Active advantage: why passive candidates aren’t always ideal

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Passive candidates are at the height of popularity, with regular features for recruiters on how to find them, sign them and keep them, but active candidates are still more popular with America’s biggest companies.

A US survey from Career Xroads shows that while recruiters are positive about passive recruiting, two-thirds of companies fill 75% of roles with active candidates.

“There is a tendency by recruiters and hiring managers to believe that passive candidates are better,” says company co-founder Gerry Crispin. But, “they’re hiring a mix that’s mostly the active candidates who come to the career site or (apply) through job boards.”

And the results are mixed when it comes to assessing which candidates make better hires. A quarter say active candidates are more likely to “perform the job” but 38% say the opposite.

Actives do better when it comes to the currency and relevancy of their skills and abilities. By a significant majority, recruiters say they believe (73.5%), and they think hiring managers also (79.2%) are neutral to strongly positive on the statement that as compared to passives, actives have relevant and current skills.

No broad conclusions can be drawn from the survey, Crispin said, but its purpose is provoke discussion. “There are element here that I think are kind of interesting,” Crispin added. “Our perceptions may not have anything to do with the actual performance of the people we hire.”

The survey serves as a reminder for recruiters to be aware of and work to change their biases.

“There’s a huge grey area embedded in the passive versus active discussion. These are perceptions we have that recruiters need to consider. What’s valid here? It’s knowledge, skills, and experience that predicts future performance, not the status of employment.”


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