Beyond the resume: The hidden potential of passive candidates

May 15, 2023

    passive candidate

    What is a passive candidate?

    A passive candidate is an individual who is currently employed and not actively searching for a new job opportunity. This group comprises a significant portion of the workforce, with approximately 70% of professionals falling into this category. While these candidates may be content and engaged in their current roles, they are valuable prospects for employers seeking to fill open positions, particularly if they possess niche skills or expertise.

    Recruiters and hiring managers often view passive candidates as an untapped source of talent due to their potential to bring fresh ideas and valuable experience to a new company. Since passive candidates are not actively seeking new opportunities, they might not apply for positions or search for job listings. However, over half of passive applicants are open to hearing about new positions, making them an important demographic for businesses to target in their recruitment strategies.

    Several methods exist for identifying and recruiting passive candidates. Approaches include utilizing social media platforms, networking events, and targeted outreach. By understanding the mindset and behaviours of passive candidates, employers can effectively leverage their networks and resources to attract top-quality talent for their companies.

    Comparison to active candidates

    Active candidates, on the other hand, are individuals who are currently searching for a new position. They makeup 30% of the workforce and typically have their resumes and profiles updated to reflect their job-seeking status. Unlike passive candidates, active candidates are more readily available for interviews and job offers.

    How to identify passive candidates

    Common characteristics

    Passive candidates tend to be satisfied in their current positions and may possess niche skills in high demand. They often have a stable work history and may have received promotions or other achievements within their current companies. These factors make passive candidates attractive prospects to recruiters.

    Online presence

    Identifying passive candidates requires recruiters to search beyond traditional job boards. Their online presence may include a well-updated LinkedIn profile, industry-related forums, or blog posts. They may also participate in professional groups or contribute to industry conversations.

    Social media profiles

    Scouring social media profiles and professional networks is an effective way to find passive candidates. Platforms like LinkedIn and Twitter can give insights into the candidate's skills, work history, and professional interests, helping recruiters to identify potential matches for open positions.

    How to effectively engage passive candidates

    Engaging passive candidates can bring valuable talent to your organization. These candidates are not actively seeking a job but may be open to new opportunities.

    Here are some ways to engage them for potential opportunities with your business:

    Effective recruitment strategies

    A proactive approach, such as passive recruiting, is important for identifying top talent. Employers can use Boolean searches and social media to find and engage passive candidates.

    Build and nurture the relationship

    To successfully engage passive candidates, it's crucial to focus on building relationships. Passive recruiting involves nurturing a network of qualified, already-employed candidates that can be tapped into when job openings arise.

    Advantages of hiring passive candidates

    Employers often find value in hiring passive candidates due to their highly desirable skill sets, specialised experience, and potential industry connections they have built over time.

    High-quality candidates

    Passive candidates are usually high-quality candidates with a proven track record of success. As they are not actively looking for a new role, it is highly likely that should they consider a new role; they will be more selective and discerning about the opportunities they pursue.

    Competitive advantage

    By identifying and approaching passive candidates, you can tap into a talent pool that is not actively seeking job opportunities. This can give you an edge in securing top talent that may not be available through traditional job postings or recruitment methods.

    Reduced time and cost

    Hiring passive candidates can be a more efficient and cost-effective recruitment strategy. Since passive candidates are not actively seeking employment, they are less likely to be inundated with job offers, which means they may be more responsive to outreach from recruiters. Additionally, since they are not actively job hunting, you may not need to spend as much time and resources on job postings, advertising, or other traditional recruitment methods.

    Improved retention

    As passive candidates are not actively seeking new opportunities, they may be less likely to leave their current employer. This can result in improved retention rates for your organisation, as you are more likely to hire candidates who are committed to their work and are less likely to jump ship at the first opportunity.

    Diverse perspectives

    Passive candidates may come from various backgrounds and industries, which can bring fresh perspectives and ideas to your organization. By hiring passive candidates, you can tap into a wider range of talent and diversity, leading to improved innovation and problem-solving within your organisation.

    Challenges of hiring passive candidates

    While there are advantages to hiring passive candidates, there are also potential challenges to consider.

    Here are some that may arise:

    Limited candidate pool

    Passive candidate may be harder to find and identify compared to active job seekers. You may need to use more targeted and strategic recruitment methods, such as networking or reaching out to them directly.

    Reluctance to leave current employer

    Passive candidates are usually satisfied with their current job and may be hesitant to leave for a new opportunity. They may need more convincing and persuasion to consider a new job offer.

    Limited visibility into candidate's job fit

    They may not have a current resume or may not have updated their online profiles. This can make it harder to assess their skills, experience, and overall fit for the role.

    Longer recruitment process

    Recruiting passive candidates can take longer than hiring active job seekers, as you may need to spend more time building relationships, networking, and nurturing candidates before they are ready to consider a job offer. This can be challenging for organisations that need to fill open positions quickly.

    Salary expectations

    Passive candidates may have higher salary expectations than active job seekers, as they are not desperate for a new job and may be more selective about the opportunities they consider.


    Recruiting passive candidates can be challenging, often requiring more effort from requiters. However, the potential benefits it can bring also make it a worthwhile strategy for organisations that want to build a team of highly skilled and experienced professionals.

    This post was written by: Leanna Seah, Content Manager