The Truth About What Passive Candidates Really Want

Screen Shot 2015-02-12 at 7.41.08 AMExpect to see a surge in the recruiting of passive candidates. While only 25 percent of global respondents from LinkedIn’s research are actively looking for work, 45 percent of candidates say that they would be open to speaking with a recruiter, which means that the passive talent pool could be a great source for finding fresh candidates. But how do you convince candidates who are satisfied with their job to make a switch?

Here are three things that can make the difference for a successful hire and what notable business leaders have to say about them.

Figures First

While many commentators claim that money isn’t a main motivator, LinkedIn’s recent survey begs to differ. In fact, both active and passive candidates cite money as a top priority when it comes to a new job. For passive candidates it is actually the No. 1 pull factor for deciding to change careers. While active candidates sometimes prioritise opportunities for advancement and more challenging work, financial incentives — including annual salary, compensation, and benefits — are all contributing factors to motivate passive candidates to take on a different job role.

“Compensation and perks can open doors and entice a candidate,” says Sabrina Balmick, marketing manager for ACA Talent. “With a more competitive compensation package, your company will be able to attract better quality candidates who are serious about building a career with your organization.”

Work/Life Balance

Next on the list of pull factors for passive candidates is work/life balance. Employees are increasingly placing a higher value on their time, and will factor this in when contemplating a job offer. Many passive candidates want their jobs to be challenging and rewarding — but not take up their entire lives. The prospect of time at the end of the day to pursue their hobbies, head out with friends, or home to their family could very well entice candidates to make the switch.

“It’s important for businesses of all sizes to ensure that their employees have a good work/life balance,” says Tim Kitchen, founder of online marketing company, Exposure Ninja. “Many of my employees have the benefit of remote working and flexi-time. Everyone wants to be able to find the work/life balance that works for them and this is a good way to do it. And it means that when my employees are on the clock, they’re on fire.”

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Company Culture

Professionals around the world agree that whether their prospective company is a good place to work is a highly important factor. 56 percent say the company’s work culture reputation is most important factor when considering a new job. 85 percent of active candidates and 90 percent of passive are passionate about the work they do, and a company that appreciates their work is essential. As a result, company branding and social media presence is more important now than ever.

“Culture eats strategy for breakfast,” is the phrase coined by Richard Plepler, CEO of HBO. Plepler is a leading advocate of transparency in the workplace, creating a company culture where employees feel able to contribute. He further said in an interview with the Financial Times: “The work environment that we create has to be transparent. Everyone can say what’s on their mind and once we make a choice, everyone is behind it.”

The Truth of It

When it comes to recruiting passive candidates, those pull factors need to be ever so slightly stronger. While a bigger pay packet might be the main draw, don’t overlook the importance of providing employees with a good work/life balance and creating a strong company culture.


5 Comments on “The Truth About What Passive Candidates Really Want

  1. So passive candidates want money and not to work what’s now the typical 80 hour week? That’s nice, and only what every recruiter without their head rammed firmly up their posterior knew already. Those are also the two things most companies steadfastly refuse to offer: decent pay and reasonable hours.

    Welcome,, to the disconnect between candidates/employees and employers that the rest of the world has been aware of for the last several decades.

  2. Ron – Although I appreciate the LinkedIn Survey, I believe that your article skews the truth and ultimately influences a recruiter to sell what they have and not what the candidate wants. Based on the survey and your article it seems you are suggesting that recruiters and companies focus on these three areas. What happens if the candidate has other desires? wants? needs?

    We need to stop recruiting by selling what we think a candidate wants, and actually find out what the individual candidate really wants/needs. The art of recruiting is about finding a real need and addressing those needs and not making assumptions about what they want. The used car sales approach of selling what you have is dead. Throw these surveys out and develop a real relationship with candidates to uncover their individual, specific needs.

    1. Might also depend on age/where you are in life. You might have seen the press release headline today: “Futurestep survey finds compensation one of the least important factors for recruiting millennial talent.”

      1. Agreed Todd. In my experience the pendulum swings from one side to the other based on who is doing the survey and who is being surveyed. These surveys do not mean much when dealing with a specific candidate!

        1. It also swings based on how the survey is done, what questions are asked, etc. So, much as I like this survey, it’s essentially useless.

          I any event, until I see people tearing up their paychecks or giving away their incomes to a great extent, I will never believe money is anything but the top priority of all people, unless they can get comparable salary along with other things they desire. Real life means opportunity cost, I wonder how much salary would matter if, instead of a survey, people were given the choice of their current job or their dream job, but the latter comes with a salary that would only afford them a studio apartment or a room in a crappy neighborhood, and barely any discretionary income.

          The problem isn’t people’s differing desires and priorities, it’s the fact that recruiting ‘thought leaders’ and other such people continually try to deprioritize money and substitute intangibles that don’t pay bills, and which most companies simply don’t even offer, so they can’t substitute those things for money; they don’t have them. Most companies are ‘commodity’ companies, not top tier EOCs like Google. Commodity companies compete on price. No one is buying a Kia because they are passionate about it or the fulfillment it brings them from the driving experience, it’s what they can afford and decent value for the price.

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