Human Resources Blog - Spark Hire

How To Stop Neglecting Active Job Seekers

When it comes to hiring, it’s best to have a blend of active and passive candidates applying for an open position within your company. Yet, sometimes active candidates don’t get the same kind of attention that passive ones do, often inadvertently.

Hiring managers are spending so much time recruiting passive candidates that they forget to cater to those who are actively in search of new employment opportunities. If you’re trying to balance working with active and passive candidates, here are some essential points to keep in mind:

Active doesn’t necessarily mean undesirable

It’s easy to make a snap judgment about an active candidate: they must be leaving because they know they’re about to be let go. They got fired. They’re a job hopper and are itching to get out of their current company, despite arriving there only a few months ago.

However, it’s important to remember that active candidates, classified as 25 percent of the workforce, might be searching for a new job for any number of valid reasons, such as:

  • A spouse got an employment opportunity in a new city and they need to move with them.
  • They’ve realized they can’t grow within their existing company and want a new challenge.
  • Their vision and values aren’t in alignment with their current employer’s.
  • They’re looking to take their career in a new direction.
  • Their current job has them traveling frequently and they’d like to be home more.

Not all active candidates are on the hunt because they’re undesirable employees and have burned bridges at their current or past companies. Because active candidates are valuable applicants, it’s important to make sure you’re not inadvertently neglecting them during the hiring process. So how do you make life easier for job seekers who are hoping to find a role within your company?

Keep the hiring process easy

Whether the individual desperately wants the job or is a passive candidate and needs to be recruited, the hiring process they’re part of should be as turnkey as possible. To ensure that is the case, put yourself in the professional’s shoes. If you had to go through the steps they go through to get hired at your company, would you bother?

If the process seems too time-consuming, take an analytical look at how you can make some adjustments. It’s no secret that attention spans are more limited these days, so cutting down on the amount of time required to submit materials for an open position is important.

Candidates should be able to apply for an open job within your company online. If you’re still asking for resumes via snail mail, even the most engaged candidates will probably lose interest in your available position. The online portal you use should be low maintenance too. If you make interested individuals set up a profile, then enter all of the information found on their resume and retype their cover letter, you’ll lose them despite the fact that the application can be done electronically.

Regardless of a person’s employment status, people are more crunched for time than ever before. They don’t want to waste hours trying to apply to a job at your company. Make it easy for them in order to increase the pool of desirable candidates that you get.

Once you collect resumes, you should sort and store them in a database. Even if a particular candidate isn’t chosen for that specific opening, the fact that they applied indicates that they’re interested in your brand. Keep their file on hand and you can contact them when future openings become available.

The best new hires are those who are truly excited about what your company offers. If they’ve applied once before, then they probably agree with what your business stands for and would like to be part of the team in the future too.

Break away from the traditional cut and dry interview

The interview is the perfect opportunity to find out a candidate’s real story. Why are they seeking work right now? What do they have to say about current or former employers? If you’ve got questions about a job seeker, now is the time to get them answered, so make sure you use the interview process to your advantage.

If you look at an applicant’s resume and see that they typically only stay at a job for 6 months before moving on, don’t let this fact linger as the elephant in the room. Be upfront and ask a question about why this has been the case. The job hopping may have stemmed from a series of events that were out of the individual’s control, including layoffs, illness in the family, or other logical reasons. It doesn’t always point to character flaws on the part of the employee.

Make your job descriptions count

When someone is actively looking for work, it’s likely that they’re using a number of different strategies to find openings. One of these techniques is doing a Google search using keywords that apply to their particular skillset. Make sure that your job posting shows up in the search results.  

If, for example, you’re hiring for an account rep with experience selling pharmaceuticals, sprinkle this phrase and others that anyone looking for this kind of position might search for into your job description. You want to increase the likelihood that they stumble across your posting while scoping out what Google has to say.  

The rest of the description itself should give the candidate a clear picture about what you’re looking for. Provide real examples of day-to-day tasks that the person would need to accomplish. What are the short and long-term goals for the position? What kinds of people would the new hire work with regularly? What sort of office environment will they encounter? What personality types have done well in this position in the past?

Crafting a vivid description helps to weed out candidates who may not actually be interested in the available job. Plus, it allows those who are applying to customize their cover letters and resumes more carefully in order to illustrate why they’d be a great match.

Post on multiple platforms

Those who are actively seeking new employment are searching for opportunities on multiple platforms, including social media. Make it easy for them to find you as they browse. Post your openings on sites like Indeed, but also tweet about the position, post it on your company’s website and Facebook page, and include a listing on LinkedIn.

This increases the chance that someone who’s interested in your business will be able to find you and submit their materials for consideration. Don’t forget to include specific instructions about how someone should go about applying for the job, including what kinds of documents you’d like them to submit.

Pump your company’s site with information

Help active candidates put their best foot forward during an interview by allowing them to do plenty of research about your business beforehand. One way to make it easy for them is by paying close attention to your company’s website. Is it up to date? Does it properly describe what your business is all about? Does it contain information about relevant news pertaining to your brand?

When active candidates look to study up on your business before the interview, help them find the most relevant, current content to ensure that they’re able to speak intelligently about why they’d be a good fit for your company. If your site hasn’t been touched in two years, you’re leaving candidates to talk about outdated projects and news, unless they’re able to find more recent information during a Google search.

Ask for referrals

When you have an opening to fill, use your employees as a resource. They probably know someone who’s in the market for a new job, whether it’s a friend, family member, or even a former co-worker.

Taking recommendations from your team helps in the job hunt process because you have the real life endorsement of people you trust backing this candidate. They can speak to their strengths, personality type, and goals. Since they know what it takes to succeed in your company, they can reflect on whether this person would blend in well with the existing team.

While they might not come with the “thrill of the chase” allure that passive candidates possess, there are a number of reasons why an active candidate can be a valuable asset to your business. For example:

They probably want the hiring process to move quickly, too:  

A slow hiring process drains a company’s resources and its employees’ energy. Just as you want to move along and find the right individual for the job as soon as possible, those who are actively seeking work want to move through the process quickly too. This way they can either begin their new position or know that it’s time to continue their search. Being in job hunt limbo is highly undesirable.

Their materials are up-to-date so you’re able to get a better sense of whether this individual might be a good fit:

A person who’s satisfied with their current job probably isn’t thinking about updating their resume and LinkedIn profile as carefully as someone who’s looking to make a move. Therefore, when you go after a passive candidate, you’re not totally sure whether the materials you’re reading are updated.

With active job seekers, you know that they probably update their resume and profiles regularly. Therefore, what you’re reading is a good reflection of the kind of person who would actually come work for you if they got the job.

Active candidates are ready to get to work as soon as possible:

When you extend a job offer to an active candidate, you can feel fairly certain that they’ll be able to start work within a few weeks. Give them time to notify their current company (if they’re still working), and then they can begin getting acclimated with your business.

Passive candidates are on a different timetable. You might have to wait several months for them to finish up a project at their current job, or until they can get another person in to replace them. Since they’re not trying to leave, they won’t feel as inclined to speed up the process. This puts a strain on you as you have to go longer with an open position in your company.

Passive candidates are not necessarily more talented:

Some hiring managers and recruiters automatically assume passive candidates are more desirable or more talented, simply because they aren’t actively looking for a job. In reality, active candidates can be equally as skilled and enthusiastic. Sometimes professionals with strong skill sets and great personalities get into a job situation that just isn’t the right fit for them, so they look to move on. This doesn’t make them any less qualified for future work.

When you’re seeking out new talent, it’s also important to pay attention to those who fall in the gray area between active and passive candidates. These individuals aren’t hopping on job posting sites each night and constantly revamping their resume, but they’re are actively priming the pump for a new job. They’re talking with people in their network about possible opportunities and are making it a point to learn about potential leads.

Place value on these types of job seekers as well, and understand that catering to applicants with a range of current employment situations helps you to broaden the pool and ensure that you’re getting the best applicants for the job. You never know who your next star employee will be, so keep an open mind as you sort through resumes and conduct interviews.

Lauren Levine

Lauren Levine is a copywriter/blogger who contributes to a number of magazines and websites including The Frisky, USA Today, and others. She also authors her own blog called Life with Lauren. She loves cooking, anything on the E! network, and is trying to convince herself that running isn't so bad.