Just How Passive Are Passive Candidates?

According to a 2012 infographic from LinkedIn Talent Solutions, 80% of working professionals can be considered “passive candidates.” We all know that passive candidates should not be overlooked as valuable recruiting opportunities, but it’s also important to remember that there are different levels of interest even among the passive sect.

The LinkedIn infographic pictured below breaks the candidate pool into four main interest levels, each borrowed from Lou Adler’s “Early-bird Sourcing Strategy.”

First, you have traditional “active” candidates who are searching for and applying for jobs. Next up, you have the “tiptoers” who might be considering a job hunt, but only carefully reach out to close contacts to find opportunities. “Explorers” are not actually looking for a new job, but are open to discussing opportunities with recruiters. Finally, you have “super passive” candidates who are happy at their current position and not at all interested in talking to recruiters.

If you think about it, this uptick in passive candidates is a sign of our technological times. In an era filled with devices and social networks, there are more ways than ever for employed professionals to casually spot opportunities (think job tweets, LinkedIn Sponsored Jobs and Facebook office culture posts). These platforms are all also new avenues for recruiter outreach; while a decade ago contacting a passive candidate would require an in-person meetup, phone call or personal email, now reaching out is as simple as a direct message on Twitter or LinkedIn InMail.

So if 80% of working professionals can be considered “passive candidates,” where do they fit on that passivity scale? According to LinkedIn’s data, 47% of professionals with less than one year on the job are explorers, meaning they aren’t actually looking for a new job but are open to talking with recruiters about opportunities.

What has your experience with passive candidates been? What is the ratio of interested to disinterested, and what have you found is the best way to reach out?


Compass image used under Creative Commons from Calsidyrose.