The Myth Of The Passive Candidate & #hci2011sta

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Hello from NYC where I’m attending the 2011 Strategic Talent Acquisition Conference.

(What does that mean? Recruiting and hiring, baby.)

Lots of talk about the ‘passive candidate’ and how it’s important to find more candidates who aren’t actively looking for a job. Right. Because people who aren’t looking for a job are happy, normal, satisfied, well adjusted, and sane. We totally want to disrupt the lives of those workers instead of people who identify themselves as interested in our organization.

That makes sense.

Sure it does.

Here’s the deal, job seekers: the word passive really sucks. Never describe yourself as passive at ANYTHING or I will punch you in the face. As someone who works in the global economy in 2011, you must always actively manage career. Stay on top of connections. Keep an eye out for better opportunities.

Here’s the other deal, HR peeps: there are no passive candidates. They don’t exist. Sure, there are people who aren’t looking for a job right now. That’s a temporary condition, though. Most of us look for work. The label of passive or active is subjective. And it depends on whether or not we’re being honest about our search.

And I’d like to add that there are no reliable or valid studies showing that passive candidates are better than active job seekers — and I challenge you to find me a valid study done during the past few years as we emerged from this recession.

So the passive candidate? He’s a myth. You want someone who isn’t actively looking for a job during a recession? I got him. He’s a lazy in-law of mine and he isn’t looking for anything better than his two-bit crummy job. Have at him. Take him off our hands. He is about as passive as it gets.

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