The idea that high-value talent is concentrated among people not looking for jobs has become widely accepted in the recruiting community. And the potential to locate these “passive candidates” is probably the top reason cited for using LinkedIn as a recruiting tool.
So—how true are these propositions? And how does the hunt for PCs relate to the Careers website?
On the first proposition . . . just don’t miss Ronald Katz’s article “What’s So Great About Passive Candidates?” and the brisk discussion that follows it. Some highlights:
- There is no bright line between the active and passive states.
- Needing a job doesn’t automatically mean there’s something wrong with the candidate—especially in the present economy.
- Finding and hiring passive candidates usually costs more. Worth it?
- The mere fact of current employment isn’t necessarily a good predictor of potential value.
On the second proposition . . . it’s worthwhile to take a second look. Certainly there has been a swarming effect around LinkedIn for recruitment, and definitely it’s related to the passive-candidate hunt. But as LinkedIn increasingly becomes a database for recruiters, there’s no reason to assume that most (or any) people with LinkedIn profiles are “passive.”
And now that LinkedIn is a happy hunting ground, there are hunters aplenty. Although LinkedIn was a secret weapon when Lou Adler offered 10 Great Tips for Using LinkedIn to Find the Best Passive Candidates on the Planet in January of 2008, those were the good old days. By February of 2009, LinkedIn was releasing Talent Advantage, an extensive suite of search-and-woo tools for recruiters and companies.
That said, there’s still some room left for getting creative with LinkedIn—and you can even do it on a budget with PeopleToucher, a clever LI search application. One thought: There are still some really passive candidates on LinkedIn, in the form of entrepreneurs and self-employed folk who in fact are using LI for other purposes than luring recruiters. In the rapidly changing talent landscape, these hold-outs may offer a new source of energy and ideas for companies that aren’t getting everything they need from conventional hires.
So what’s the connection between passive candidates and the Careers website? Arguably, these are the visitors who may demand the most from your site. Active candidates might love your site if it lists any jobs they can apply for, and ignore everything else while filling out forms and uploading resumes. If there are no applicable job listings, they may leave in a hurry (unless the site provides other rewards, and/or encouragements to stay connected).
But a passive candidate contacted by a recruiter may very well go straight to the company site for a look around. And what they find there could have a considerable influence on whether they decide to pursue the opportunity.