For as long as I've been in the recruiting space, the debate about passive versus active has raged on, and while the debate has shifted from gospel truth to debated maxim...many recruiters still feel deep down that passive candidates are the very best kind of candidate. But why? It's one of those industry "chicken and egg" scenarios and if you extrapolate it out a little bit it's sort of like saying that only those who are already married are worth dating. Does that make sense to you? Yeah me neither!
69 percent of workers said that searching for new opportunities is part of their “regular routine,” whether they are employed or not, with 24 percent searching as frequently as once a week.
That's not the whole story though. Passive candidates are already employed, so the thinking follows that they're good at their job and will make good employees at the next company. Someone who's been out of work for awhile, the old saw says, may not be such a great catch. It's as if they've been thrown back.
The great recession threw much of that out the window. It was tough to assume that 10% of the population were all duds, especially as departments were slashed and companies tried to do a lot more work with a lot fewer people and lower budgets. At the same time, the job-hopping lifestyle reviled by everyone except contract recruiters started looking pretty good to creatives and technical pros alike, who were being downsized anyway.
Now as the country starts to pull out of the downturn, there is a bit of revelation among talent acquisition professionals as well. It is this, the difference between passive and active is ceasing to exist. In fact, For today’s candidates, the job search process is constantly “on,” with 74 percent of workers either actively searching for a new job or open to a new opportunity (according to both Lou Adler who puts it closer to 69% and a recent CareerBuilder survey).
So despite the side you used to or occupy now, it's clear that it doesn't really matter, because along with the shift in how we hold jobs and how open we are to new ones and how large the actual pool of "Pactive" TM jobseekers -- as recruiters and hiring managers, we need to know how to reach them.People look for jobs in three ways (when they're searching): Searching online, networking and job boards. We're not going to concern ourselves with job boards today, because we pretty much all know how to use those. BUT, the behaviors of the other two concern us greatly. Because our beloved "pactives" are sneaky. They're stealth. And they do lots of interesting things when they're getting ready to look for a new job (which of course allows us to candidates neatly back in their little passive and active boxes but we're not going to do that now-- first because we have all this new info and second, because it's so darned fun to say "pactive" ....TM).
So how do you find a star? First, recognize that modern job seeking behavior is like consumer purchasing. A simpler way to put it is, you may want to market a job more like one would market a car, or a luxury handbag. It may sound trivial but taking a page from the marketing playbook cannot only help you identify and source entirely new pipelines of candidates but learn how to reach out to them more effectively. Or, market to them. The casual browsing mentality should help focus job marketing efforts for organizations.
But I'm getting ahead of myself. Let's find them first. Finding Pactives can be hard, because they're a little tough to identify. In today's socially connected world, very few potential candidates want to broadcast to the world that they might be open to another gig. So here's what they do instead:They get a little social. It's not a seismic social shit but lots of little indicators: a location change on Twitter, a change of photos on Facebook, a more substantial LinkedIn profile...all of these together give you a sense of when a candidate might be thinking a little more seriously about a move. Have they changed their profile to include broader industry terms as opposed to the current job-specific title? Do they suddenly live in Austin when last week it was San Francisco?
They flaunt their skills. Networks like StackOverflow, GitHub and Quora allow professionals of all ilks to prove they know what they say they do on social networks like Facebook and Twitter. It's less about crowing the loudest and more about letting the cream rise to the top. Simply posting your work on one of these sites (or many more) doesn't mean you're looking (although 67% are... remember) but a flurry in activity and increase in participation usually does. Those are the people to keep your eyes on.
I'm not sure if you heard about it a couple of weeks ago but the entire staff of Radian6 was laid off by Salesforce. The reaction on social media was entirely different for marketers than it was for my sourcing and recruiting friends. Marketers said: "My heart goes out to you...fellow marketers at Radian6." Sourcers and Recruiters said: "Hey if you're looking for a great team, check these guys out!" Granted that's a highly public situation and most of those candidates are easily findable than your average java programmer in Ohio. However, research shows that a lot of employees (if they are not summarily dismissed right after a merger) will leave of their own accord, at very specific time intervals too. Usually there is a year long grace-period where everyone involved tries to get along (and wait for their stock to vest). After that, it's a steady drip of talent, until the acquiring company is left with the die-hards (which you couldn't recruit with a signing bonus the size of Texas). So keep your eyes out for IPOs, changes in leadership, and mergers and acquisitions. Oh! And if you're a great recruiter with your ear to the ground you'll know when a mid-level manager decides to leave that it may be time to look at the people directly under him or her.
Obviously keeping track of all this stuff can be daunting, which is why I'm probably the only person in this space not to think that talent pipeline is a dirty word. There are lots of tools to help you, from RSS Alerts to Yahoo! Pipes and building a social listening station (google Chris Brogans post on it or a fantastic one from SM Examiner) and they're all free! Of course there are paid options as well. Many of you are familiar with LinkedIn, BullHorn Radar and tools like Entelo, the company sponsoring this webinar. They keep track of the various signals FOR you and even send you an email when a candidate on your watch list start displaying the above behaviors.
So what do you DO with these candidates? This is the fun part, where decades (almost two! TYVM) of marketing experience come into play. We talked a bit earlier about marketing jobs like we market luxury purchases. This is key, even though it seems silly. The reason is that consumer behaviors are changing because of the shift online and further social advances, so as new generations come into the workforce, they are pursuing opportunities differently and working differently. Resist learning the new techniques, and find yourself with a drastically limited talent pool from which to choose.
Okay so either you've done the research yourself or you're using one of the new smart tools to do it for you. You've committed to learning about the ways to reach out to these people. Here's what you need to know.What do they like? This is where your own research or that of a social search engine can come in very handy. Unlike job boards, with social sourcing you get a wealth of information about the KIND of person you're dealing with. You know where they hang out online, what sort of projects they're proudest of and how they interact with others. You might also gain information about likes and dislikes, awards they've won and similar people (a sourcer's dream!) When marketers get information like this, they use it to create a profile, but unless you're always recruiting for the same role, that may be overkill, instead use this to figure out what to talk about.
Key point here: practically every single recruiter in the world uses the cold approach via email or inMail, they talk about the opportunity and blast it out to everyone. While that does allow you to reach more people, it resonates less with the RIGHT people. So use your information to create a shortlist and when you reach out, make the communique about THAT person. This speaks to marketing and human behavior in so many ways it's dead simple. 1) It's flattering. 2) It sets you apart from every other sourcer/recruiter contacting this immensely talent person -- that's why you're contacting them right? and 3) It gives them an idea of what they would look like in the position (that' selling 101 my friend). Mention their interests, past projects and employers and even awards they've won. Even if they aren't interested, your flattering and detailed offer will more readily be forwarded to similar candidates in their network because it makes them look good and now they like you and are inclined to help.
How do they work? If you can see from their profile that they've stayed four years in every company then you may not want to contact them about a temporary role just yet. If they are what used to be called a job-hopper but you're looking to place someone in a very staid company with low turnover, you may again, want to rethink that decision. Using social and professional network data makes it easy to see whether someone is drawn to startups or corporations, creative and innovative or tried and true. This too can help your approach-whether phone call, email or social outreach (tweet, DM, Facebook et al). The difference between how you market a job and the company changes drastically from person to person. You know how we tell jobseekers to change their resume and cover letter to suit the position? Yeah, do that but in reverse.
How do they want to be communicated with? You can tell a whole lot about a person by the way they behave on social networks (even the lesser known ones). Are they braggarts? Do they post a ton of their work for adulation but don't ever engage? Then you know something about that person. Tailor your approach. Do they seem to know a lot of people but rarely engage in online conversation? You can deduce that they are phone, email or private DM people (i.e. don't post an opening to their wall, approach them privately). Are they open and honest, jumping into every conversation with abandon? Then you can ping them openly and ask about others they know. That type of person will be happy to connect you others, that's the kind of person they are and it makes them feel good to do so. Like a marketer, keeping the needs of your target market paramount gives you a better chance at standing out from the crowd. You don't put a QR code on a bus because it moves. You don't put a complicated web address on a billboard because that's stupid. And you don't contact a qualified prospect in a way sure to put them off because you know better.
How do they want to connect? This is a purely tactical section. There are lots of recruiters who still believe the phone is the best way and in a world full of email and social interactions, that a good old fashioned phone call will make them stand out from the crowd. I am here to tell you that is NOT TRUE. I am very sorry but I know of no person under the age of 40 who answers and appreciates an unexpected phone call. There is a time and a place to the unexpected phone call and it may indeed win them over eventually, especially if as I suspect, you are very good at your job.
But I believe this to be a risky strategy that can too easily backfire unless it has been and continues to be your forte. Instead, show that you respect their time and preferences by reaching out where they are the most comfortable. If they are active on Twitter, send them an email and then ping them on twitter to let them know to check their inbox. If they seem like they communicate well on their profile at GitHub, by all means, send an exploratory and introductory message there. Don't be vague, top tier talent are too busy for that crap. Be interested, direct and use a call to action at the end. What is the next step. Being inscrutable just irritates me...and other people too.
Some things to expect: Pactive Recruiting is usually not a short game. Settle back and get ready for the long haul. While there may be some incredible results in terms of fit, suitability and purple squirrel hires, the real benefit of this sort of pactive sourcing happens once you've built the relationships, selected your tools, and built up your pipeline. Just like market research and subsequent targeted advertising takes time, so too does researching, sourcing and approaching these candidates. While it would be easier to fire off 50 emails to potentially qualified applicants, you may only get one response. Using sophisticated tools to tailor your approach to five highly suitable candidates will serve you better in the long run.
Marketing a Job vs Marketing an Opportunity: It used to so simple. We could tell people the duties of a job, explain the benefits and if they wanted it, they signed on. With the economy and work changing rapidly and the addition of a new generation to the workforce, it's not so simple anymore. But it doesn't have to be hard. We've learned surprising things in the last few years; we've learned that for many, money is not the game changer, we've learned about how important culture can be and we've learned that overwhelmingly, jobs are not forever and surprisingly enough, no one wants them to be.
Corporations and PEOPLE alike are starting to agree that a project based economy is better for many in the long run. Entrepreneurs, freelancers, workers and contractors are merging into one large but diverse group, weaving in and out of the workforce with ease, some when they start a family, others when they hit what used to be called retirement age. While we use the term JOBSEEKER or CANDIDATE to try to define a specific group it's almost antithetical to identifying what they really are: People. People who want to do something unique and useful and even maybe fun with their days.
The concept that work could be enjoyable was widely scoffed at as a millennial's pipe dream just a few years ago. Now here we are, on this webinar, trying to position our openings and opportunities as something that some qualified person will find attractive. When you are wooing someone there are specific steps and if you look at the information we've gone over today, those steps are clearly outlined. It's similar to dating. It's similar to shopping. It's similar...to stalking (but not in a weird way!) You learn as much as you can about what they want and then try to make what you have meet those needs. It's not easy for a recruiter who often finds him or herself caught between the organizational goals and the candidate's desires.
Getting attention: The key is to generate awareness of your company among such candidates before they're ready to start searching actively. That way, when your passive candidate does have a bad day, you'll be on his or her mental list of employers to consider.
Personal networks are the most common means by which passive job seekers learn about new employment opportunities. Almost three-quarters (73 percent) of all passive job seekers who responded to a WetFeet.com survey said they relied heavily on their personal networks to gain information about potential employers. This means you need to leverage your company's employee referral program. Oh, yes and do not treat your current employees poorly if you have any input in that area.
Advertising is another way to get the passive job seeker's attention. About a third (30 percent) of all passive candidates who responded to the WetFeet.com survey said they had investigated employment opportunities at a company after seeing an employment-related ad. Almost as many (28 percent) had investigated employment after seeing a general, nonemployment-related ad. Perhaps you don't have the budget to create employment ads, few talent acquisition teams do, but you may have consumer or general marketing collateral onto which you can hang your hat. Fight hard to ensure that your jobs tab or career site is on the front page of your website and when looking for pactives, get your job advertisment copy into every format you possibly can (tweets, fb messages, linkedinetc) Create a customized link so that you can keep track of where your interested candidates are coming from.
24% of all passive candidates who responded to the WetFeet.com survey said that they used news media to learn about potential employers. Therefore, a corporate PR initiative focused on getting positive news about your company into the media could have a significant effect in attracting not only customers or clients to your company, but passive job candidates as well. Can't afford that? Then listen and don't just tweet jobs. Talk about your culture, your company, the people in the company, the fun stuff, your customers, your story, the company's story, the boss's story, the team's fun days, all that is up for grabs!
Targeting PassiveCandidatesHow, Why and If It’s BetterwithMaren Hogan,Red Branch Media