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Passive Candidates Are on the Move

July 18

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, approximately 13.9 million citizens are out of work. Of those, 6.2 million workers are considered long-term unemployed, having been unemployed for 27 weeks or longer. There are also over 800,000 discouraged workers who may have given up looking for jobs. The unemployment rate is still holding around 9%, but there have been job gains in professional and business services, health care, and mining. And we’re definitely seeing a shift in hiring momentum at TMP, especially in the technology and healthcare sectors. Wanted Analytics reported that the top 10 metro locations for employment posted over 270,000 jobs in the last 90 days. May 2011 saw the most online job ads in these locations since October 2008.

But in all the hustle and bustle to open requisitions and bring in more candidates, there is a flip side to this scenario that many companies are overlooking. It’s not just companies that are looking to hire. More people than ever are looking to find new jobs – and not those who are unemployed. I’m talking about the highly sought-after passive candidate.

In a recent “What’s Working” study conducted by Mercer, "nearly one in three (32%) US workers is seriously considering leaving his or her organization at the present time, up sharply from 23% in 2005. Meanwhile, another 21% are not looking to leave but view their employers unfavorably and have rock-bottom scores on key measurements of engagement, a term that describes a combination of an employee’s loyalty, commitment and motivation.”

For the past few years, recruiters have sorted through piles of active candidates and considered them undesirable because they are unemployed and probably not the top talent they are seeking. We cannot continue to make this assumption knowing that this desire of employed individuals to find new work currently exists. Your candidate pipeline is being infiltrated by candidates that are highly desirable, highly skilled individuals – those who wouldn’t have considered leaving their stable employment environment a year ago, but can’t help but notice the swell of new, intriguing opportunities in the market, and have less of a commitment than ever to their current employers.

This is the candidate who will network their way to a new job. They aren’t putting their resumes on job boards, but they are most likely updating their profile on LinkedIn and asking for new endorsements. They may start following companies of interest on Facebook or Twitter.

The question is, do you have a strategy for engaging the passive candidate? Here are some activities to consider:

  1. Update your career site. Awards, current work, the environment. Candidates who have been “stuck” in their stable job are looking for something new and exciting. And they should be able to get information about it on your career site.
  2. Turn your employees into evangelists. Promote your ERP. Give them a story to tell and a reward for telling it. Use social media and blogs as a forum to promote your openings and to highlight the work of your current employees. It's like a social testimonial.
  3. Allow passive candidates to browse and indicate interest in your company. These candidates are more likely to fill out a short form to indicate interest than to sit through a 20-minute, 6 page online application process.

At the end of the day, candidates want to experience the new thing you’re making, selling, buying or treating. They need to understand why your company should be the next destination in their career journey. The better you can tell this story, the more likely you are to engage top talent.

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