Fast Track Recruitment

The Passive Job-Seeker

Posted by Mitch on 9th September 2009

First off, let me explain to those of you who don’t know, what a ‘passive job-seeker’ is.

A passive job-seeker is someone who is not unemployed, does not need another job but is open to the possibility of getting a better job. They’re different to most of the regular candidates that apply for lots of jobs on the Internet. Different in so much as:

They don’t have a lot time to spare.
They look at other job opportunities relatively infrequently.
They’re looking for a better job, not just another job.
They’re invariably off the market relatively quickly once they decide they want to move.

These are the types of people that most recruiters are looking to interview.

So, to those of you still in the ranks of the employed, here’s a career management tip – always be looking for your next career move while you’re still relatively happy in your current job. It’s better for you and it’s better for the potential new employer. Much better.

It’s better for you because you can view the job you’re interviewing for with more objectivity than if you were out of work and needed something to pay the bills. It’s better for the potential new employer because, for reasons best known to themselves, they’ll consider you a better candidate if you’re not out of work.

Most companies have problems finding these passive job-seekers and is one of the reasons why there are so many recruitment agencies feeding off the employment system – agencies who for the most, are only marginally less worse at attracting candidates than their clients.

The only real difference is the agencies have more time to process vast numbers of average candidates (the best two or three of which are given a 10 minute ‘makeover’ and presented as “the cream of the crop”) and can sell the notion that these people are in fact the best that is out there. It’s money for old rope really, but more on that another time.

To save money on communicating their vacancies powerfully and building their own specific candidate knowledge-banks, many companies put up poorly conceived and badly written job-postings on job boards. Some even allow recruitment agencies to put up the same poorly conceived and badly written job-postings on job boards on their behalf.

The passive job-seeker doesn’t look at these job boards containing all of these job-postings, except when they’ve had one of those days where they think that they’re overworked, undervalued and underpaid. These days happen more regularly than you might think.

So, after getting home at half past eight the night before (covering for their incompetent boss), they start looking at a few job boards in the hope that there’s something better out there. This is the hiring company’s and the recruiter’s window of opportunity to capture some of these people.

Here’s what happens next.

Since most passive job-seekers don’t have much time to spare, they only look at the titles of the jobs and the names of the companies on the first or second page of any job board listing. So if the job or title or advert doesn’t stand out, then the company or recruiter don’t have a chance.

If they get past this, they’ll then read the ad-copy. If the job sounds boring or lists the traditional ‘must-haves’ like skills, years of experience, industry background, with a few duties and responsibilities mixed in, and they see no difference between that job and the one that they’re doing at the moment, then the passive job-seeker will opt-out. I mean, we all would really, wouldn’t we?

If they read the ad-copy and see something different in the employment proposal, chances are they’ll next look at the company or the recruiter’s website and the detailed job description (if there is one). If this isn’t as convincing as it could be, or not easy to find, then the passive job-seeker will say goodbye and get on with their life.

However, if the company and/or recruiter manage to get the candidate past these hurdles and get them to send in a CV or an application, and then contrive to not call the person back by the next day at the very latest, their chances of convincing this passive job-seeker that they take recruiting new staff seriously is greatly impaired.

Then the passive job-seeker will wish they’d done something more constructive with their time …like repeatedly smashing their head against their desk for a couple of minutes. We’ve all been there, right?

Hiring managers, HR people and recruiters will post on the Internet almost weekly complaining about how difficult it is to find good candidates and bemoan the fact that they get so many applications from desperate (and/or unemployed) people with little or no relevance to the jobs posted.

They also wonder why so many people think agency and inhouse recruiters don’t really know what they’re doing or understand the role they’re trying to recruit for.

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