Why Passive Candidates Now

September 30th, 2013

Before the recession of the early 1990’s, companies were hesitant to lay off workers – they shied away to avoid any possible public backlash.

However, in the early 90’s, many had no choice.  They were simply broken and required drastic measures to repair themselves.

Down-sizing, right-sizing, and mass layoffs were born.

After 20 years of downsizing, rightsizing, outsourcing, laying off and economic downturns, industry leaders have now realized that most of the top performers – the people they want to hire for their organization – are engaged and working for someone else, not available and unemployed because they were laid off (exceptions do occur, but call them “needles in haystacks”)

They know this because when they downsized (or right-sized or laid off) they did not cut their best.  The best employees left when they became disenchanted over poor company performance, lack of opportunities, or were recruited for a “grass is greener” opportunity.

The key in identifying, attracting, selecting and hiring these desirable passive candidates is by recognizing the difference in their frame of mind – from their active counterparts and most hiring managers – during the hiring process.

First, they have to be identified.  These passive candidates are not looking for other opportunities consciously.  They have to be found.  You can find out who they are by using public sources, referrals and confidential information.  The information is plentiful and accessible; it is simply time-consuming to process.

However, the true job of recruiting – or talent acquisition – in 2013 is not one of candidate identification, as it was 10+ years ago.  It is one of candidate recognition.

There is no secret sauce to locating highly qualified candidates.  The introduction of LinkedIn, resume databases and (even) Google has taken care of that.  The true skill comes in candidate recognition, or being able to recognize the high performers and what is required from a performance profile standpoint.  In other words, the true job of a recruiter is to recognize and validate the “caliber of the candidate”.

A recruiters job well done is to steer the interview process and assist in making sure all the bases are touched.  All candidates should be thoroughly screened and interviewed, but it is important for the interviewers to remember they must sell both their job opportunity and the company to passive candidates.

These candidates may not come to the interview dressed in their best suit and tie, look you in the eye, shake hands aggressively, etc.  They may not be articulate and sell themselves around the job. Company interviewers who expect this behavior are still interviewing in the past when a surplus of candidates existed, and the game was to weed out the losers. We are now dealing with a scarcity of high-caliber candidates, and the same interviewing process will lose more passive candidates than they will hire.  The candidate has also come to gather information, find out about the company, position, who it reports to, etc.  The candidate’s interest must be addressed to further the hiring process.

Finally, it is necessary to make more than fair salary offers when possible.  Salary equates to value, and passive candidates need to feel valued if they are going to make any type of career move and leave their current position.

So if you are serious about hiring only the best candidates for every key position, work with Honer and Associates.  Our specialty is knowing how to identify, attract, select and hire the best and brightest.  Contact us today!

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