The Rise and Rise of the Passive Candidate

3 Minutes

DefinitionPassive Candidate:A passive candidate (passive job candidate) is someone who is be...


Passive Candidate:

A passive candidate (passive job candidate) is someone who is being considered for a position but is not actively searching for a job.Passive is best.

Being an active candidate is quite a funny feeling, it’s like running down a hill, you’re never completely in control and while it might feel fun at first you can also fall over at any time through no real fault of your own. Which is why, for me anyway, it’s now the passive candidate that seems to be king of the global candidate market. As a passive candidate clients will know they have to sell to you. That 1st stage used to be a total grilling for all candidates, we’ve all been there where you’re fired competency question after competency question and you have to try and respond with as many relevant examples as possible.

However, you do this to a passive candidate and you stand more chance of putting them off your role and company than you do of enticing them. A passive candidate doesn’t need to be there, but they are because they see this as a potential opportunity and ideally want to meet the company and an interviewer who shows some emotion and genuine interest in their career. That 1st stage interview is now a 2 way street, it’s as much about the candidate as it is about the client. A connection needs to be made in order to cement the candidate’s interest or they will just remain in the job they already have.

Why is Passive better?

Due to the constant evolution of social media, platforms such as LinkedIn mean that people who are not actively looking for a job are now increasingly approached for new opportunities. The route to finding a job has changed drastically from where it once was.

How can you be a good Passive Candidate?

Create a good network of close contacts, within that should be old colleagues, good agents and mentors that can help you through your career. This should help you to identify the opportunities that are real, and that will truly take your career in the direction you want. This doesn’t mean going for coffee for everything you ever hear about, so when you do get that call/message there are three key questions/rules you should be asking yourself:

What does this role add to my career?

This can be anything from sector experience, to more money, to just working with a great HR practitioner or business leader. The reason for your interest should match up to your career aspirations and priorities.

Will it continue my career journey?

Identify where the role might sit in your Career Road Map, moving sideways isn’t sometimes a bad thing if it offers you something your current position doesn’t.

Is it worth my time?

Don’t accept every invitation or enquiry, if you do you just become an active candidate. Clients like what they can’t have.

How does the Client spot a good Passive Candidate versus a time waster?

Well, one thing I can tell you is that a candidate who spends a chunk of their time updating LinkedIn with their successes isn’t passive, they are fully active and are letting the world know. The people that are genuinely passive are the ones that usually have a LinkedIn profile but it probably isn’t perfect, because for most of the day they are busy doing their job. But it really comes down to that initial meeting again, good passive candidates are ones you can build rapport with, they engage with you properly in a 2 way interview where they ask questions but also give you something back. They don’t interview for selfish gains, they do it because they want to know more and have shown an interest.

If you would to discuss any of the above with me, get in touch at

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