Here’s What Happens When Candidates Go From Passive to Active

Yes, you do it, too. Don’t deny it.

When you’re gainfully employed, happily or not so, and you actually make the time to update your LinkedIn profile, for whatever reason, you uncheck the box in your account settings that reads:

Let people know when you change your profile, make recommendations, or follow companies.

Getting hit on via LinkedIn

LinkedIn even adds a footnote for you that calls out why you would uncheck the box:

Note: You may want to turn this option off if you’re looking for a job and don’t want your present employer to see that you’re updating your profile.

There you go. Sure, there are valid reasons as to why you’re updating your profile that don’t relate to job seeking. Maybe you received a new certification, or you want to list a recent volunteer stint.

And the converse value of wanting to be found online, having a peer-vetted public profile, is the fact that is it public and you can be found when you don’t really want to be. Again and again I’ve heard from sought-after professionals who get hit on more often via LinkedIn than at a hip new nightclub.

So they don’t update their profile. Or they mask it with false information. Or then pull it down completely.

What “active” candidates are using

But mercy me, if you’re socially savvy and know how leverage the Wild West Interwebs and have pivotal skills companies need and don’t call yourself a thought leader while others do, you’ve got to pull down a lot more than the LinkedIn profile if you don’t want to be riddled with spray-and-pray pitch pellets from virtual sawed-off shotguns.

And if you haven’t done it already, social profiling sites like Entelo and TalentBin have most likely already aggregated all your online exhaust and profiled you for the big game hunters. We make ourselves big ol’ targets with our data – created by us and distributed by us – some clean, vetted and valid, and much of it not so much.

Plus, according to 2013 Candidate Experience Awards data, “active” candidates are clearly using a few sites quite extensively in their job search activities, which means we’re quite visible on them including (of course) LinkedIn (55 percent), Glassdoor (21 percent), Google+ (17 percent) and Facebook (14 percent) – all of which were probably underreported and will surely to spike higher in the 2014 CandE data.

But the operative word above is “active,” and during a recent conversation with a colleague, a long-time recruiting and ATS veteran who works everyday with large global talent acquisition teams, he scoffed at the proverbial “passive” candidate myth.

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“Passive, schmassive.”

Here’s what we need

OK, he didn’t actually say that, I did, but you get the idea. That’s when we talked shop around the public profile conundrum outlined above, especially for those who don’t want to be found.

Invisible is not the same thing as passive. People are either looking for jobs or they’re not; they either want to be found, or not.

And that’s when the visceral snap of a simple epiphany hit me right between the eyes. Bryan Chaney, sourcing executive at IBM, told us on the TalentCulture #TChat Show that, “the difference between a passive and active candidate can be less than 90 seconds.”

Damn straight. Less than 90 seconds, which is why we need:

  • Relevant content — Happy or unhappy, opportunity in the form of smarter and engaging content and storytelling, personable and professional, can remove even the most elusive engineer’s invisibility cloak. In fact, after Bryan conducted a 90-day case study on social media content, conversation-based content increased response rates by 54 percent. Stories rock and that’s immersive marketing 101 these days anyway.
  • More relevant conversations –– Savvy marketers can and should educate recruiters and sourcers how to engage prospects in real conversations. Whether it’s on a forum, user group, blog, simple email or any social network, or the old-fashioned phone call or at a live event, the relevant conversation should always be the goal.

Relationships and tipping points

That’s not easy to do when you’re a global company dealing with hundreds of applicants per open req and hundreds of thousands per year, but the recruiters who hit their marks always know their market and the talent they’re targeting. Recruiting (and marketing) are only human and all about relationships and the tipping points of interest can come in a [enter city here] minute.

Passive schmassive, indeed. Wait, you can’t really see me, can you?

This was originally published on Kevin Grossman’s Reach West blog.

Kevin W. Grossman is the Talent Board president of global programs responsible for all aspects of the Candidate Experience Awards worldwide, the first nonprofit research organization focused on the elevation and promotion of a quality candidate experience. He also produces and hosts multiple “world of work” podcasts including The CandEs Shop Talk and WorkingTech. A certified Talent Acquisition Strategist (TAS) and Human Capital Strategist (HCS) by HCI, he has over 19 years of domain expertise in the human resource and talent acquisition industry.

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