The term of passive talent has become more central on corporate talent agendas as of late. We’ve all understood how it works out. The best talent doesn’t have it hard to get a job. Most often they are working with an interesting assignment already. When a great talent suddenly turn active in his job search it is because he is A) either ready for a new challenge or because B) his present employer fails in satisfy his top career preferences. When he find that match he once again turns passive. Talents are mostly passive, especially the best. But does that mean they are not looking?
Truth is that “passive” is a term that should not be generalized. Being passive does not mean you’re uninterested in opportunities. A vast majority of talents are interested in hearing/knowing of recommendations and suggestions on what their next big play could be.
“Cool, so we can just continue to spam them with job adverts and hope they find something they like?”
The main difference between an active and a passive candidate applies to their digital journey and sought digital experience.
“Wow, that sounds complicated!”
Don’t worry, in fact it is pretty simple. An active candidate will head out to the channels of his choice to search for the most suitable opportunity, will more proactively adapt his résumé and cover letter for some chosen vacancies and will start to work more on contacting companies, headhunters and activate his network. Thus he will be easier to find. A passive candidate however, is not really looking. He is thus very hard to find. That means that the talent behavior is completely different with the passive candidate from the active one. They seek different information and to engage with different content. Thus, their digital journeys differ and so does their sought digital experience.
Talent behavior is easily benchmarked to buyer behavior as it has the same attributes. If you look to buy a new car, you’re most likely looking into catalogues of your favorite brands, perhaps surfing various sites for information, talking to your network of their views and recommendations, visiting various retailers to have a test drive etc. In short: You are actively looking and easy to find. If you are not really thinking of buying a new car at the moment you are not as likely to have catalogues at home or involve yourself as much in automotive conversations unless you happen to work in the industry. That does not mean you can’t become interested if you happen to stumble upon something exciting out of coincidence. The main difference is that you won’t seek the opportunity to do so, it falls in your lap at the right time with an “emotional” and “practical” offer, relevant to your needs. And wham(!), the passive might just turn active. The talent market is exactly the same.
“Alrighty. So what does that mean literally?”
It means that in order to find and lure the interest of the passive candidate you have to:
- A) Understand the content and information the passive candidate is interested to acquire.
- B) Understand where the passive candidates are. At which locations are they present to interact and engage with their preferred content?
- C) Understand their channels of choice for obtaining professional information and thus entering with the right “user mindset” – another important criteria when measuring efficiency in digital journeys. Hunting passive candidates at a channel where they are not interested to look for professional information highly reduces the chance for them to see content as relevant to their “sought digital journey”. A sought digital journey includes that a talent seeks specific information at specific places and are much more likely to find material interesting if it is in context to other things he was looking for.
And last but not least; engage them. Making a passive candidate active is about making them interested in you over time. Therefore you will have to engage with the passive candidates in such a way that your content always appears relevant and not disrupting their digital journey in a negative manner, consistently over time and thus allowing the passive candidate to build a natural interest and perception of your brand.
That said, all talents are opportunity oriented. The timing, the context, the relevance and the relation is what matters.
Best of luck,