Are You Hiring Unemployed Candidates?

July 29th, 2014 | Articles, Hiring Resources | No Comments »

Unemployed Candidates

The hiring and recruiting field has its undisputed truths. A great employee is more than just a list of skills. A cultural fit is better for the long-term. Great talent doesn’t stay available for long. Lately, one mantra that pervades the web and emanates from hiring managers and recruiters alike is passive candidates are better than active unemployed candidates.

Is there an inherent value to passive job seekers over unemployed job seekers? Or are they more or less on the same terms?

A Sea of Passive Candidates

For starters, there are far more passive candidates out there. LinkedIn’s Talent Trends 2014 survey found that 75 percent of the workforce is made up of self-described passive job seekers:

  • 15 percent that aren’t interested in changing jobs.
  • 15 percent that are only searching through their personal network.
  • 45 percent that are open to conversations with recruiters.

For any veteran employer, a passive candidate is an enticing untapped commodity. In most cases, passive candidates aren’t in any job talks with other companies, so if you happen upon one through a recruiter or an employee referral, you might have exclusive contact with that person.

Additionally, there’s a higher probability that they are still gaining new experiences. That means continued learning, even up to the moment you are bringing them into your company.

However, passive job seekers are harder to coax from an existing position. The planets have to align in the right way, with ideal job factors all coming into place, before they migrate to a new company.

Active Candidates: Ready to Work

In LinkedIn’s Talent Trends 2014, active candidates, a number of them unemployed, make up the remaining 25 percent and can be broken down into two different groups:

  • 12 percent that are searching for new jobs every single day.
  • 13 percent that are only casually checking jobs from time to time.

Though active candidates are the workforce minority, this segment comes with their own advantages.

Unemployed job seekers are faster to move when offered a job. Ready for a new challenge, they will not drag their heels with trepidation. Their current job search experience often makes them more resilient and adaptable, as they have learned to modify their approach to better connect with employers and recruiters.

More often than not, what keeps employers away from the currently unemployed is a lingering stigma. It’s hard not to wonder how or why they ended up unemployed in the first place. Yet not all were dismissed for negligence or deficient morale. Give them a chance and most can articulate the reasons behind their employment gaps and how they’ve been working to improve their careers.

Is One Better Than the Other?

The belief that passive candidates are intrinsically better is short-sighted.

Do passive candidates have a structured environment to amass new skills? Yes. Can driven unemployed candidates earn comparable skills in their own spare time? Of course.

Through alternative opportunities, unemployed candidates can achieve just as much as passive candidates. Furthermore, we know that unemployed job seekers aren’t the only ones who can adapt to adverse situations.

Labelling one group as superior to the other overlooks the individual merit of each candidate. It distills them down to base stereotypes and increases the chances of a bad hire, risking a company thousands of dollars in the process. An equitable evaluation of each candidate’s skills, personality, and experience is a less risky prospect by far.

by James Walsh

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