Passive Job Applicants? Yeah, Right. Sure. | No BS Hiring Advice

What may be a passive candidate to you may actually (heaven forbid!) be an active applicant with a resume on a job board. How do you figure out which category they are in?


Jeff Altman

2 years ago | 3 min read

By Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter


As someone who helped to create this myth more than 30 years ago when mass advertising meant running an ad in a local newspaper, what may be a passive candidate to you who does not use a job board but may have been introduced to someone through a referral or contacted them through LinkedIn, may actually (heaven forbid!) be an active applicant with a resume on a job board. How do you figure out which category they are in?

Back in the Stone Ages when some of us didn't want to invest in an advertising budget, we would tell our clients that we didn't just try to find the best person who happened to read an ad on Sunday, but the best person available. Sound familiar?

Now, it's the best person referred to you, the best person with a personal commercial on ZoomInfo or Hoovers or who happened to have a message on an online forum, Stack Overflow or GitHub . . . or who responded to an email from a database.

And once you have that passive applicant interviewing with your client and they decide to put their résumé on a board and interview with others, do they suddenly become inept because they are now actively looking for a job?

One person’s passive maybe another's active ad response or search query, respondent.

With that said, many corporate recruiters are far too busy to do the sort of cold calling necessary to unearth an allegedly passive applicant. After all, with 6-8 interviews per day plus reporting requirements, meetings with managers, communicating with search firms and other responsibilities, when are they supposed to do this?

Now for the most logical part of the argument, the best person is the one that the manager selects, regardless of source. To reject someone because they decided to be aggressive with their career instead of being an obedient slave taking what crumbs their employer or manager gives them, because their division is struggling through no fault of theirs, impacting their career options or because they decided that changing jobs was financially beneficial (a job changer who gets a $10000 raise effectively earns more than $56000 with job changes and more than $75000 if they change positions for a second time in 3 years.

So, since the primary attributes that make someone a great employee are skills competence, character, self-confidence (maybe charisma, even) and chemistry--attributes that translate into personal leadership, the source of these attributes should not be at issue. That the person has them should be the only determinant of excellence.

And given the number of hires done from active applicants, it should go without saying that companies seem to be consistently disagreeing with this myth.

© The Big Game Hunter, Inc. Asheville, NC 2017, 2021     



Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter is a coach who worked as a recruiter for what seems like one hundred years. His work involves career coaching, as well as executive job search coaching, job, and interview coaching. He is the host of “No BS Job Search Advice Radio,” the #1 podcast in iTunes for job search with more than 2200 episodes.

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Jeff Altman

Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter, (he/him/his), is hired by people for No BS career advice globally. In the past, he has helped companies hire talent and people find work. More than 40 years of recruiting experience assisting individuals to improve their careers as an executive recruiter. Do you need help with a career transition or in your role as an executive? Schedule a free discovery call or coaching session at Listen to the #1 podcast for job search, No B.S. Job Search Advice Radio wherever you listen to podcasts. Also, subscribe to on YouTube. Connect on LinkedIn at Mention Tealfeed!







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