The Case for the Active Candidate

When did it become a bad idea to consider active candidates for your open positions?  What makes hiring managers and recruiters think that those individuals who are not directly applying to your positions are somehow a better fit for the open position?

In 2014, Zappos famously stopped posting jobs and moved to their Zappos Insider program.  Individuals potentially interested in working for Zappos could join the Insider program and would be contacted by recruiters when positions became open.  Their focus was almost exclusively on passive candidates and it didn’t work.

The active candidate should be a focus of your recruiting efforts.  Here’s why:

  1. Active candidates have shown an interest in working for you. They actually took the time to complete your ridiculously long (probably not mobile friendly) application process.  They’ve likely researched your company to some extent and think they’d be a fit.  You will spend less time selling them on the opportunity and the company and more time actually evaluating them as a fit for the position, the manager and the culture.
  2. Active candidates are looking for something new. Whether they are unhappy at their current job, have recently been laid off, or are looking to make a career change, they want something new.  They have committed to change.  Change is hard for people.  These candidates are saying “bring it on.”
  3. Active candidates are looking for a position now. If they are currently working, they can start with as little as two weeks notice.  If they aren’t currently working, it can be sooner.  When you have an open position, time is usually quite important and you are likely measured on time to fill.

Now, I’m not suggesting that you abandon your passive candidate recruiting or that you stop building pipelines of potential candidates who have the skills you need.  You absolutely must continue to source those individuals and engage them in a regular dialogue (just like Zappos is continuing to do).  They do, however, require more time and salesmanship than the active candidate.

Just remember that active candidates are interested, ready for change and available now.  Just because they are active doesn’t mean they are less talented or less desirable than those that aren’t currently looking.  I’m sure that everyone reading this post has at one time been an active candidate.  So, look in the mirror and reminder yourself that active candidates have great value.

What other reasons do you have for showing love to active candidates?