Attend any recruiting conference, or read just about any recruiting blog and you’ll find a steady drumbeat about passive candidates: Why they’re better; How to source them; What to say to convince them to work for you, and; What you need to do to attract them and then keep them.
Active candidate are OK. But current fashion is to go find the people who don’t want your job.
Now we find, that some of America’s biggest companies — collectively hiring hundreds of thousands of workers annually — hire only active job seekers, while more than two-thirds of them fill three-quarters of their jobs with actives.
Actives vs. passives
These not-so-surprising revelations are in a new survey from the recruiting consultancy CareerXroads.
“There is a tendency by recruiters and hiring managers to believe that passive candidates are better,” says 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.”
Crispin, who with his partner Mark Mehler, is a founder and principal of CareerXroads, described the survey as “interesting,” though it can’t be considered as representative of hiring practices generally. It was conducted only among the consultancy’s clients — 34 participated — many of them leading employers in their industry hiring thousands of workers annually.
Besides just getting estimates of the passive vs. active hiring the companies do, the survey asked the recruiting leaders to offer their view — and their perception of what hiring managers believe — about the qualities of both types of candidates.
Biases we need to operate against
For instance, 24 percent of responding recruiting leaders believe active candidates are more likely than passives to “perform the job.” By the same percentage, they say they think hiring managers feel the same way. But at the other end of that scale, they say they believe 47.1 percent of hiring managers think actives don’t perform as well as passives. Some 38.2 percent of the leaders report believing that themselves.
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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 percent), and they think hiring managers also (79.2 percent) are neutral to strongly positive on the statement that as compared to passives, actives have relevant and current skills.
Even though no broad, industry conclusions can be drawn from the survey, Crispin said its purpose is provoke discussion. Both the perceptions part of the survey and another part about how recruiters are engaging passives and actives are grist for conversation about recruiting strategies and practices.
“There are element here that I think are kind of interesting,” says Crispin. “Our perceptions may not have anything to do with the actual performance of the people we hire.”
The survey does serve as a reminder that “we have biases and we need to operate against them… 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?”
He adds, “It’s knowledge, skills, and experience that predicts future performance, not the status of employment.”