One of the hallmarks of the superstar recruiters is that they possess a more sophisticated understanding of passive candidates. The average recruiter thinks of candidates as either active or passive. The active candidates are those who are cruising job boards, lining up around the building trying to get jobs, and filling recruiters’ inboxes with resumes. They are generally dismissed and perceived as undesirable. Passive candidates are successful professionals who are succeeding at their jobs and not looking for new opportunities. They are highly sought-after and are considered the best quality candidates.
But, the more sophisticated recruiters understand that the market is far more nuanced than that. They recognize that pigeonholing candidates into these two distinct categories is not only simplistic and inaccurate but unproductive.
The Passive Candidate Map
Based on years of candidate research and analysis of candidate behavior, the Passive Candidate Map (above) identifies the eight distinct segments within the spectrum of candidate motivation and aligns them based on their receptivity to new opportunities.
Understanding these segments and being able to identify where a candidate falls is key to tailoring a recruiting message and identifying hot buttons that will resonate with desirable individuals and result in consistent success.
Although there are many factors that affect why candidates become Locked, many fall into this category due to family obligations and restrictions or perhaps because of the allure of hefty retention bonuses. Regardless of their reasons, Locked candidates are highly unlikely to be open to discussions.
Recruiters also will want to avoid most Arrived candidates, as they are likely to feel they have achieved a level of career fulfillment that cannot be found anywhere else. While they may occasionally demonstrate curiosity about job opportunities, the Arrived are almost untouchable.
These candidates are performing well in their current roles but they may be looking for a bigger and better job with more responsibilities or more staff to manage. Although they are often appreciated within their company, they may want to be promoted more quickly than their company can promise.
Accomplished candidates are solid performers who are comfortable in their role and have no real incentive to move on, but they may be tempted to pick up their heads and look around from time to time. The trick for recruiters is to determine which Accomplished candidates have somehow found themselves in a backlog at their company and which are just average, ho-hum performers.
Whether it is due to a conflict with their boss or changing priorities from new owners, these candidates are incredibly frustrated with their current situation, but are often still loyal and working hard in their role. Although they may be unhappy where they are, they are still not actively looking for new opportunities.
These candidates can see the writing on the wall — they are anticipating a layoff, loss of an account, or the sale of the company. Yet, they appear fully employed and many are still passive candidates. The Fated with dated skills and low performance ratings are to be avoided.
Superstar recruiters recognize that even the Unemployed are not a homogenous group. There may be any number of reasons why candidates drop out of the workforce — for instance, to care for an ailing parent, or because of an outsourcing of their division’s functions. Although the most motivated to be hired, they also may be low performers with skills in low demand.
At the opposite end of the spectrum from locked candidates are the Unstable — the individuals who have jumped from job to job once a year (or even more often). With this many red flags, most of the Unstable should be avoided, though there may always be a needle in the haystack.
Achieving Results by Refining the Passive Candidate Definition
Working professionals comprise a spectrum of active and passive dispositions. Each candidate has specific reasons why they are not currently applying for a new position.
Recognizing where candidates fall on the spectrum of talent — and why — can give recruiters greater insight into the candidate’s behavior as well as their likelihood of being interested in new opportunities. Recruiters who have a deeper understanding of who these passive candidates are and what may prompt them to investigate a position further can fine-tune their approach and improve their overall hiring success rate.