Tuesday, February 15, 2011

10 Myths – Passive candidate sourcing

Guess, you already know about them, recruiters weigh them in gold, hiring managers love them, they are difficult to find and they don’t change jobs easily… this is how generally “Passive candidates will be described. Love to be one
Lets try and unravel some myths about approaching these species
Myth 1: Don’t Sell the Job - They are picky, they are sensitive! You may end up offending them by selling the job
The more passive the candidate, the more selling is required. Bland Job adverts or unenthusiastic pitch is never going to land you a passive candidate. If you just brag about the job and its benefit, the likelihood of you convincing the candidate is quite low. The key to selling a job to a passive candidate is to find out one reason, for which he will change the job.
Myth 2: Passive Candidates are not looking out – They are happy with their current job and are not looking for a change.
Just check how any on Linkedin, don’t check “interested in job opportunities”. They are always looking out
There is never a perfect situation. Some irritant in the job will always be there. They may not be interested in moving out for a reason. Find the reason and irritant. You might find the irritant is more important than the reason not to move for some.
Myth 3: Your Call is going to irritate most Passive candidates
Being wanted is flattering!! Yes, they may not be expecting your call and may be taken aback, they may be busy and you may have intruded at the wrong time. If approached professionally, no passive candidate will get irritated. Give them time to get comfortable and don’t forget to follow up.
Myth 4: A “NO is the end of the conversation
The likelihood of the passive candidate saying not interested is higher than the active candidate. I have seen a lot of times, this NO is just a natural response to not being prepared for the call. Always try and understand why they are not interested to change a job. Make them comfortable enough so that they speak atleast 5 sentences. After that you wont have a problem. The first five are the most difficult. Control the conversation and the “No” is easy to encounter.
Myth 5: Calling Passive candidates is not ethical
That’s an internal battle for you to fight. If you don’t feel happy in what you are doing it won’t be good enough. I don’t see anything wrong in offering a change for the better to a candidate. Even if it means, opening the eyes of the candidate.
Myth 6: Always Email First : Don’t want to make an unsolicited call
Safe bet!! Email first, candidate is aware that you are calling, or at least you can say, “I had informed”. The only challenge with this approach is in deciding what information to reveal in the email. I would not want to give a solution, without understanding what’s bothering the candidate but still believe that a well worded email or voicemail wont hurt.
Myth 7: Always Be Honest with the Passive candidate
Won’t dare to say this in public but I am a Sagittarian. Never give a false picture to the candidate about the role and related information. You don’t always have to be honest about is how you found his contact information. Don’t say anything that will make them suspicious.
Myth 8: Passive Candidate will perform better than active candidate
Well, they will be more valued for sure by the recruiters, but can’t say if they will perform better. Assuming that passive candidates are currently performing better than their colleagues, leading to high satisfaction and hence not looking out, it is but logical to assume that they will perform well in the new company. Run a sample.. hire the best performers in your competition, and you will find they may struggle in your company. Apart from skill, it is the company’s culture, policies, procedure, environment, that will determine successful performance.
Myth 9: Job boards don’t have Passive candidates
Hidden in CV’s are references, which could be excellent passive candidates, and also a contact for a ruse to connect. Apart from the references, I personally believe, all candidates who have not update their CV, for more than 3 months have turned passive. Had they been serious, they would have got a job by now.
Myth 10: Passive candidate search is only effective in hiring senior level requirements
For senior level requirements, you don’t have an option on the job boards. Passive is by and large the only source for fulfilling these requirements. For other requirements, job boards, would generally give a decent response. That doesn’t mean, you can’t look beyond them to find more candidates. Definitely try the job boards’ first, easy thing to do. Don’t compromise on the quality of candidate, if you don’t find your best match. Remember, Passive is always an option, albeit a challenging one.

Care to add more!!!

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Beliefs of a Passive Candidate Sourcer!!


  1. Very informative blog post about Passive candidates. Thanks for writing.

  2. Thanks Rajan. What was your key takeaway?

  3. Very useful info. Is it ok to contact candidates on there company email address if you dont have there number or personal email address for Job opportunity?


  4. Hey Paddy,

    My opinion: Contacting is fine at any email address. Offering a job over an official email address will be inappropriate.

    With your NG skills, I am sure, you can come up with lots of reasons to contact.

    Hope this helps