When did it become a bad idea to consider an active candidate for your open positions? What makes hiring managers and recruiters think that those individuals who are not directly applying to your positions are somehow a better fit for the open position?

In 2014, Zappos famously stopped posting jobs and moved to their Zappos’ Insider program. Individuals potentially interested in working for Zappos could join the Insider program and would be contacted by recruiters when positions became open. Overall, it is a necessary strategy to build a list of candidates who are interested in working for you. But this recent ERE interview with Zappos’ current head of talent acquisition, Rick Jordan, proves that the “passive” candidate only approach wasn’t working. So, they are returning to posting jobs. It sounds like the right mix for them is about 50% passive and 50% active (they included employee referrals in the passive bucket).

I wasn’t surprised to see Zappos make this change. The active candidate should be a focus of your recruiting efforts. Here’s why:

  1. Active candidates have shown an interest in working for you. They actually took the time to complete your ridiculously long (probably not mobile friendly) application process. They’ve likely researched your company to some extent and think they’d be a fit. You will spend less time selling them on the opportunity and the company and more time actually evaluating them as a fit for the position, the manager and the culture.
  2. Active candidates are looking for something new. Whether they are unhappy at their current job, have recently been laid off, or are looking to make a career change, they want something new. They have committed to change. Change is hard for people. These candidates are saying “bring it on.”
  3. Active candidates are looking for a position now. If they are currently working, they can start with as little as two weeks notice. If they aren’t currently working, it can be sooner. When you have an open position, time is usually quite important and you are likely measured on time to fill (but don’t get me started on that – check out my blog post on that horrible metric).

Now, I’m not suggesting that you abandon your passive candidate recruiting or that you stop building pipelines of potential candidates who have the skills you need. You absolutely must continue to source those individuals and engage them in a regular dialogue (just like Zappos is continuing to do with the Insider program). They do, however, require more time and salesmanship than the active candidate.

Just remember that active candidates are interested, ready for change and available now. Just because they are active doesn’t mean they are less talented or less desirable than those that aren’t currently looking. I’m sure that everyone reading this post has at one time been an active candidate. So, look in the mirror and remind yourself that active candidates have great value.

What other reasons do you have for showing love to active candidates?

Photo credit: www.hrexaminer.com

About Kara Yarnot

Kara founded Meritage Talent Solutions to provide tailored talent acquisition solutions to employers and employment services companies. Kara has over 17 years of leadership experience in talent acquisition and recruiting for several FORTUNE® 500 organizations, including Boeing, Intel, and SAIC.

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