Active or passive candidates? Proactive recruitment can make a difference in a scarce skills market

By Dalya Ketz, Managing Director at Gcubed Boutique Recruitment

As the demand for specialist skills rises, sourcing passive candidates is becoming an increasingly necessary talent acquisition tactic to match job requirements and fill important vacancies. With 70% of the global workforce consisting of individuals not actively seeking employment, it is important to leave no stone unturned in the hunt for the right skills to enable companies to reach their full potential and contribute to economic recovery. This is where head hunting comes in. However, HR managers are struggling to find the right individuals to fit their needs, as databases run dry, and the same small talent pool is repeatedly drudged to little effect. Organisations should therefore turn their search from individuals to fill specific vacancies, to a recruitment agency partner that can handle all their talent acquisition plans and requirements.

Active talent pool is small and over-fished

Despite high unemployment figures, only around 30% of the global workforce are active job seekers. This means that the available talent pool for hiring companies is small and over-fished already. This is not to say that active job seekers are not viable candidates, it just means that there is a lot of talent being overlooked because these candidates are currently not actively job seeking. Such individuals are known as passive candidates, and those who are in the market for a new job are known as active candidates. While passive candidates may not be dissatisfied at their current companies, they are still worthwhile prospects for other employers with vacancies that need to be filled. Particularly where skills sought are niche. For hiring managers, recruiting passive candidates can prove trickier than finding active job seekers, but it is fast becoming an imperative tactic for successful talent acquisition.

Massive potential in passive candidates

Drawing a distinction between passive and active candidates in talent acquisition illustrates a simple point. With the right job offer, anyone can be persuaded to take on a new challenge. There are more jobs than there are skilled candidates, and by focusing solely on the 30% actively looking for new job opportunities, recruiters would be neglecting their duty to conduct a thorough, exhaustive search to find the best candidate to fit the job. It’s also important to bear in mind that this 30% refers to the entire job market, and this entire 30% is not necessarily interested in or qualified for every position available.

Recruitment is more than ticking boxes

In a candidate-driven market, potential employers need to make a few mindset adjustments. They do not have the luxury of time, especially where the skills sought are specialised. They cannot afford to ‘string’ candidates along and must be swift and clear with their offers today or they risk losing that candidate to another company tomorrow.  It’s also important for organisations not to get caught up in ticking boxes. Yes, the candidate might have all the necessary skills and might be the perfect match on paper, but a recruitment partner will be able to focus properly on the best fit for the job while balancing the necessary IQ and EQ considerations within a wider understanding of the client’s business needs and the market.

Network trumps database

Recruitment agencies can assist hiring companies to get the correct perspective on filling their vacancies. The right recruitment partner does not rely on a database of candidates, which outdates quickly, and reflects only a portion of available talent. Instead, an astute recruitment partner takes a networking approach in their search. The same way that we acknowledge the importance of advertising vacant positions, it is also necessary to acknowledge that one advertising method is not enough. This is where networking can prove to be an instrumental strategy to identifying exactly the right talent. Through networks built up over many years of engaging in the industry and forming relationships with individuals and companies, a savvy recruiter will get creative with the ways to discover the talent that wouldn’t otherwise come knocking at the door. This involves a combination of social media networking, employee networks and keeping up with prospective candidates, as they move through their careers and gain additional experience or switch professions entirely.

Recruitment is a balancing act

A discerning recruitment partner will have a deep understanding of their clients’ industries, as well as a clear idea of market conditions, which they will balance with an appreciation of job seekers’ wants and needs. They’ll be best positioned to advise their clients on how to put together an attractive job offer (that centres around more than just money) within the context of the broader market. They’ll best be able to assess whether the candidate will be a good fit, not only from a job description perspective, but from a personal and workplace culture viewpoint as well. Skills can be taught, but culture and chemistry needs to be innate. Either an individual has it, or they don’t.

Choosing wisely

This is where the right recruitment agency partner can make all the difference, and if companies choose to partner with a reputable, experienced agency in their recruitment, they can be sure that the search for the talent they require will be conducted ethically, efficiently, and as quickly as possible. There are several clear benefits to head hunting a passive candidate for a role, and finding the appropriately skilled recruitment agency is a critical step in getting it right.

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