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  • Writer's pictureIlan Fluxman

The great Passive V.S. Active Candidate Debate!

Updated: Dec 20, 2019

I have noticed a lot of talk lately on social media about the long-standing debate about how great recruiters will only deal with Passive candidates and therefore will always put forward the best and highest caliber staff. It got me thinking about the topic more than usual and this is how I see things after 20 years of recruiting for some of the top companies on the planet!

For clarity- a passive candidate is defined as someone who is currently working, not looking for a new opportunity, not responding to job ads and whose resume is usually not on the job boards. As they are usually happily employed and not looking for work, it is thought that the passive candidate is a valued employee making worthwhile contributions to their current place of work.

Conversely- an active candidate is one who usually not working, or working but actively looking for a new opportunity. By definition, therefore, they are usually not happily employed, and if they are not happy it is thought that they are not making a worthwhile contribution at their current place of work- or can't because they are not employed.

Based purely on the definition, it would seem that the passive candidate is a better option and to be honest, my experience has shown that this is most often the case, however, the recruiter who ignores the active candidates because they feel that only passive candidates are worth pursuing, do so at their own peril.

One should never forget that life happens- there are many reasons why great people can be active candidates, their current employers can be experiencing hard financial times, there could have been a management change, they can suddenly wake up after 8 years at the same company and wonder what else is out there. The list is endless- but the point is you should never think that active candidates hold no value and that you need not pay them any attention. Quite the contrary- always, always, always keep an eye on the active candidate market- you never know what gems may show up.

This is especially true within the Behavioral Health space. We work in an extremely volatile market with facilities opening and closing all the time. This means there are fairly often great active candidates on the market. They don't stay active long, and are usually snatched up quite quickly, so you need to have your ear to the ground and keep your eye on the job boards.

Something that is often overlooked about the passive candidate pool is its sheer size. There are at any given time tens of millions of Americans actively looking for work, but there are hundreds of millions that are passively working and not necessarily looking for work. Setting up a consistent strategy to keep in touch and in tune with this huge pool of talent is priceless.

In trying to put an end to the debate, I would like to suggest that there is no debate, neither is better or worse, working with both is just smart recruitment. They require different approaches and methodologies, but that is what separates the great recruiters from the good recruiters- we have many different strategies and more unique methodologies in our recruitment arsenal, know when to use which ones and know how to use them more effectively.

About the Author:

Ilan Fluxman, author and CEO of Rocket Science Recruitment, has two decades of experience in professional recruiting. During the past five years, he has directed his focus specifically on behavioral health. Having firsthand experience of working in multiple facets of this industry, he is dedicated to utilizing his recruiting knowledge and expertise in headhunting to better equip businesses find talented team members. He is passionate about helping overcome the challenges in this important field so people's quality of life can be improved on both the professional levels of those working in the behavioral health industry and for the patients seeking help.

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