What motivates passive talent? They are not as passive as you think

Roughly 21% of today’s working professionals can be considered as active job seekers. Another 20% are super passive i.e. happily employed and not interested in a new opportunity. The rest, 59% of all professionals, are approachable according to a survey conducted by LinkedIn. Interestingly, professionals with short tenure are just as likely to be in Explorer mode.

In my own research I noticed that typically 2 out of 3 LinkedIn members are open to discuss new career opportunities. In Singapore, six out of every seven passive candidates are approachable.

There are a lot of experienced recruiters and HR professionals who believe that it doesn’t matter via which source a candidate has been approached or applied. They have a strong believe in their selection and interviewing techniques to identify the best candidates. However, companies who have taken the effort to measure the quality of hires have found big differences per source.

Think about. If you advertise a job publicly, ‘everyone’ applies and sends unverified self-reported narrative descriptions of their past work, and you try with a resume selection and a few (most likely unstructured) interviews to select the ‘best candidate’ for the job. The issue is that this pool is filled with average quality; lots of under-performing job-hoppers, a few B and C players, and most likely no top talents. The result is, and data-based research and other reports are very clear on this matter, that you fill your jobs with average employees that were happy to accept the poorly written job they applied for. [Note: I will write another blog with 1001 reasons why companies fail to attract and select top talent via advertising or contingency recruitment agencies but for the good reader I already gave a few clues]

Let’s face it, you can’t produce quality hires unless top talent is in the candidate pool.

Compare this pool of active job seekers with passive candidates, the Tiptoer and Explorer, who can be found via referrals (the #1 source for new hire quality*), direct sourcing or internal promotions. These passive candidates are pre-qualified or recommended by others and will not change jobs until they are sure, and they will double check this, that it is the right opportunity at the right time.

Because when it comes to saying “yes” to a new job opportunity, what motivates passive talent is different from other candidates. Compared to active talent, passive talent is:

  • 120% more likely to want to make an impact
  • 56% more likely to want a corporate culture that fits their personality
  • 33% more likely to want challenging work
  • 17% more likely to need skill development skill opportunities
  • 21% more likely to need recognition for their contributions

What does this mean for Recruiters? Use your entire team to identify talent and referrals, talk about making an impact and listen (instead of pushing your job vacancy). The outcome is a mutual better match.

* Source: Staffing.org 2011
** Infographics by courtesy of LinkedIn

About Jacco Valkenburg

Jacco Valkenburg is an international recruitment expert, trainer and author (5 books). He has more than 20 years experience in global recruitment strategies and execution spanning numerous countries for leading companies. As founder of Recruiter University and Recruit2 he provides companies with recruitment training and consultancy. His mission is helping companies ‘from good to great staffing’.

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