For years, we’ve spoken about job seekers in dual-form. They’re either active, and therefore actively seeking vacancies and job offers. Or they’re passive, and uninterested in one of the twelve million messages they receive daily on LinkedIn. According to new research by Talent Intelligence experts Intelligence Group, it’s time to forget everything you ever thought you knew about the latter group: so-called passive job seekers must be split in two. While active job seekers are what it says on the tin: active, passivity can be divided into two separate columns: active-passive and passive-passive.
Active-passive job seekers
Unlike their purely active counterparts, active-passive candidates don’t have their CV’s uploaded onto job sites or CV databases. They might take a look on occasion to see what’s out there, whether through job boards, social media, or recruitment sites — but it won’t result in an application. “They’re generally the ones that ensure they can be found via LinkedIn and leave digital traces in their network, so they can be found by recruiters”, says Geert-Jan Waasdorp, Founder of Intelligence Group.
These candidates are seemingly passive, meaning they’re generally heavily pursued by sourcers.
It’s not just playing hard-to-get, however. The main issue, if we can call it that, is that a lot of recruiters are already hunting this particular target group. Because these candidates are seemingly passive, they’re generally heavily pursued by sourcers. “They may put in the occasional call to a recruiter or account manager, but generally aim to be portrayed as passive”, Waasdorp adds.
Passive-passive job seekers
Then we’re onto the hors catégorie of passivity. While passive-passive job seekers may sound like the new villain out of Mission Impossible: A recruiter’s tale in 2023, they’re not as bad as they sound. “They’re surprisingly receptive to employer branding messages and job-related content”, Waasdorp says. “You can recruit them through their colleagues and former colleagues, acquaintances and friends. It’s generally the result of long-term employer branding: they have been following that company for a long time and sometimes communicate with it.”
“They’re very focused on internal mobility and generally don’t go the extra mile to be found online.”
But there’s a catch. These are candidates generally aiming to be promoted within their own organisation. In other words: they’re a loyal bunch. “They’re very focused on internal mobility and generally don’t go the extra mile to be found online. I think employers have ignored it too much in recent years. I think in a tight labour market, you have to force yourself to look from within.”
Employer branding and RMA to the rescue
Talking strategy, employer branding through Recruitment Marketing Automation (RMA) appears to be the best route to reaching the passive-passive job seekers. “If passive-passives are not present on LinkedIn, I am curious how recruiters go about contacting them”, says Caroline Pols, expert within the field of RMA and founder of Netherlandse-based UP in Business. “Then suddenly, your options are limited.”
“There’s a whole process leading up to the moment a passive-passive job seeker even gets to your company’s website.”
“What we see a lot is that people have to be active on LinkedIn for their work, and not so much for personal branding. Yet there are opportunities there. By being visible as a company on LinkedIn, you can become part of their world. Only sourcing and approaching out of nowhere is counterproductive. There’s a whole process leading up to the moment a passive-passive job seeker even gets to your company’s website.”
Using the right data and content
Pols and UP rely on labour market data provided by Intelligence Group to first get an estimate as to what any specific target group looks like in terms of passivity. “If a client needs X-amount of developers, we first consult Giant to get an idea of the size of passive target group. Suppose that’s 50%: now we know how many people we need build a brand preference for. The next step is finding out where they are, so we start formulating an approach on the channels they’re active on.”
“With the concept of Recruitment Marketing Automation, we closely monitor the behaviour of those passive-passive job seekers.”
It’s all about professional content, Pols says. “That’s what everyone wants, right? There must be a clear correlation between the brand and the position they may see themselves working in, one day. With the concept of Recruitment Marketing Automation, we closely monitor the behaviour of those passive-passive job seekers. There’s no use in actively headhunting developers, for example, they need interesting content by IT professionals. That’s the only way of getting them remotely interested in your company.”
Turning candidates from passive to active
Recruiting expert Koen Roozen sees reason to view the job application process as a journey. “You aways start a job with sense of satisfaction that will likely shift one day. But people generally don’t share their feelings right away. Only when a candidate thinks a job is really appropriate, he or she will respond or engage in conversation. Whenever they actively act on their impulse, then they transform from passive to active.”
“Above all: every passive candidate, no matter how passive, wants to be seen as a human being first.”
So reason for organisations to focus on Recruitment Marketing Automation and Internal Mobility, according to Roozen. “When people aren’t aiming to apply, pitching a vacancy makes no sense. You first better pitch your employer proposition: that you are a company that does cool things, for which RMA can be a very valuable tool. When you tailor messages to every phase, you’ll eventually make a breakthrough. All those touch points must communicate a sense of relevance. Above all: every passive candidate, no matter how passive, wants to be seen as a human being first.”
“In all cases, it’s about having the right knowledge and data of this passive target group as an important starting point.”
“I think it’s all about clarifying the subtle differences within any passive target group”, Waasdorp adds. “And catering the recruitment process, through a variety of different strategies, to their needs. Whether you’re looking to add senior personnel or blue-collar workers to your team. In all cases, it’s about having the right knowledge and data of this passive target group as an important starting point.”