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Recruiting Active vs. Passive Millennial Job Seekers

Hiring strategy
As per a study by LinkedIn, only 30 percent of the global workforce is actively looking for jobs. The remaining 70 percent comprises of passive job seekers.[i] This can be worrying for recruiters looking for high-quality candidates for an organization. However, there’s some good news too: whether they are active or passive job seekers, 87% of these candidates are interested in a new job opportunity. The reason is simple: If a good career opportunity comes along, then they are open to change. Whether you are looking to recruit active job seekers or passive job seekers, effective communication is highly important. Read on as we discuss the best communication channels for active and passive job seekers and how you can use them.

Understanding the Difference Between Active vs. Passive Millennial Job Seekers

Recruiting active job seekers can be significantly different from recruiting passive job seekers. As the name suggests, an active job seeker is an individual who is actively looking for a new job opportunity. They are readily available and can be easy to communicate with. These candidates tend to have updated CVs and will monitor job boards for new postings. They may also be working with a recruiter for new job opportunities. Many of these candidates do not have a job or have recently been laid off. They might also be looking for a new opportunity because they do not have job security at their current organization. As a result, these candidates are more motivated toward exploring new job offers and are easier to hire. On the other hand, a passive job seeker is a person who is employed somewhere and is happy with their current job. They are not actively considering switching jobs. Consequently, these candidates are not immediately available and will not have an up-to-date CV available, as well. However, if they receive a suggestion regarding a potential career opportunity from a friend, hiring manager, or recruiter, then they might be interested in finding out more about it. Most millennials candidates aren’t really passive. They are used to switching jobs so even if they are not actively looking for a new opportunity they will still be open to exploring better prospects. However, because they have the luxury of choice, it can be difficult to sway them. Typically, a passive millennial candidate will not be in a rush and are unlikely to make drastic decisions by jumping on the next opportunity that comes their way. Employers must be willing to put in the time and effort to successfully attract such candidates. For instance, if you reach out to a passive millennial candidate through text message or email, there’s a good chance they might respond. A personalized approach can go a long way here. You must also be willing to follow up with the candidate and provide them with a flexible and quick application process that doesn’t require a CV and can be done remotely. On the whole, you need to consider both sets of candidates to recruit the best talent for your organization. Since there are a limited number of active candidates available, there’s a chance you might lose a talented candidate to a competitor. This is not the case with passive job seekers. Given the differences between active and passive candidates, it is very important that you use the right method to reach out to them. Currently, some of the most popular communication channels for active and passive job seekers include:
  • Online job boards (60%)
  • Social professional networks (56%)
  • Referrals (50%)
Let’s see how the use of these platforms vary for active and passive job seekers

What Is The Best Way To Reach Out To Active Job Seekers?

Since active job seekers are diligently looking for a job, you can reach out to them through the following communication channels:

i. Online Job Boards

90% of active job seekers use their mobile devices to search for jobs so the use of mobile-first job boards can lead to a higher response rate. [ii] They serve as a medium for employer branding, as well. One study suggests that 61% of organizations use online professional networks for employer branding purposes.[iii] Successfully building your employer brand on these platforms can boost your response rate.

ii. Employee Referrals

Referral recruitment can prove to be effective for active job seekers, as well. A study suggests that referral candidates are 2.6 to 6.6 percent more likely to accept a job offer.[iv] Employee referrals are also beneficial if you are looking to reduce your cost of hire. You can save over $3000 per hire if you opt for this method.[v]

iii. Text Messaging

Text messages can be useful for recruiting active candidates, as well. Approximately 64% of job seekers use this mode of communication for engaging with potential employers.[vi] As per research, sending a job seeker text messages on Sunday will generate a response rate of 79%. The second highest response rate (75%) was observed for Thursday.[vii]

What Is The Best Way To Reach Out To Passive Job Seekers?

Recruiting passive job seekers can be tricky. Unlike active job seekers, you cannot engage with these individuals through conventional methods. Some of the best ways for communicating with passive candidates include:

i. Social Media

Social media platforms such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram can be useful for communicating with passive job seekers. You can use social geolocation tools and hashtags to find a specific group of individuals. 96% of recruiters use LinkedIn for communicating with passive candidates, making it the most popular social media platform for recruitment and hiring purposes.[viii]

ii. Networking Events

Attending networking events can also be helpful for discovering and communicating with a pool of passive candidates. You can meet top talents in person and assess whether they would be a good fit for your organization.  We suggest attending company events, job fairs, and trade shows to make the most of this recruitment tool.

Using Different Communication Approaches With Active and Passive Millennial Candidates

Since active and passive millennial job seekers have different needs and requirements, it’s important that you modify how you approach these candidates. In the case of active candidates, you can use recruiters to initiate the recruitment process. A transparent approach is very important here. You need to provide a clear description of the role they are applying for. Communicating with passive millennial candidates can be more difficult. We suggest you avoid cold messaging and take up a personalized approach. Instead of messaging them about a job opening, you can begin interacting with them by commenting on their posts or sharing their tweets. A sense of familiarity can work in your favor here. Avoid writing long messages when contacting them initially. Finally, passive millennial candidates are more likely to respond if a relevant senior manager reaches out to them first instead of a recruiter.

The Bottom Line: Use a Multichannel Approach for Recruiting Active and Passive Job Seekers

If you are struggling to choose between communication channels for active and passive job seekers, we suggest you opt for a multichannel approach that helps you recruit active, as well as passive talent. To learn more about recruiting millennial job seekers, download our exclusive report on Strategies for Attracting and Engaging Millennial Talents, and discover key insights into how you can successfully interact with these candidates.
  • [i] “The Ultimate List of Hiring Statistics.” LinkedIn, LinkedIn, 2015,
  • [ii] Montini, Laura. “Hiring? The Job Search Has Gone Mobile.” Inc.com, Inc., 13 May 2014, http://www.inc.com/laura-montini/survey-9-in-10-jobseekers-are-looking-for-work-on-their-mobile-devices.html.
  • [iii] “The Ultimate List of Employer Brand Statistics – LinkedIn.” LinkedIn , 2011, business.linkedin.com/content/dam/business/talent-solutions/global/en_us/c/pdfs/ultimate-list-of-employer-brand-stats.pdf.
  • [iv] Sockin, Jason, et al. “Why Interview Sources Matter in Hiring: Exploring Glassdoor Interviews Data.” Glassdoor Economic Research, 12 Aug. 2015, http://www.glassdoor.com/research/interview-sources/.
  • [v] Duke, Sarah. “10 Employee Referral Program Fast Facts.” Recruiter, 2015.
  • [vi] “2019 Job Seeker Nation Survey.” Jobvite, 2019,.
  • [vii] Kempton, Beth. “Candidate Text Messaging: Hire Up To 8 Days Faster With SMS.” Hireology.
  • [viii] Maurer, Roy. “Survey: Employers Using Social Media to Find Passive Candidates” SHRM, 7 Jan. 2016,
Content Creation Manager at | + posts

Evan Daniels is the Content Manager at Wavely. Coffee and hip hop enthusiast, he mainly covers changes in recruitment, job seeking, and marketing.

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