February 24, 2017 Yscouts

The Passive Candidates vs. The Unemployed Candidates

When it comes to vetting candidates for a role, there are many factors to consider. What’s the culture fit? Does the resume experience align? What do reference checks reveal? Is the job applicant currently out of work, or simply a passive candidate? Here, we asked a handful of business leaders to dive into the passive candidates versus the unemployed ones.

The Passive Candidates vs. The Unemployed Candidates

Be Cautious

As millennials start to dictate the new hiring trends, it’s sometimes hard to distinguish between an active and a passive job seeker. Side hustling has become a way of life, and if the job seeker has completely put his/her career on hold, waiting for another job opportunity, then it raises a red flag with me. It wouldn’t necessarily be a stop sign — I would still interview them, but I would try to raise the question and pinpoint their exact situation.This is a great gray area, but it is really telling for businesses looking for specific skills — especially the companies seeking extremely proactive people.

– Neil Napier, CEO of JobRack

Seek Out Passive Candidates

As an organization who headhunts top performing salespeople, we target gainfully employed (or passive) candidates. Why? In the sales industry, candidates who are employed, or have longer job stays, tend to be A-players. If they are unemployed, or have shorter job stays, it’s an indication to us as recruiters that they were either let go for not meeting targets or quit because they weren’t generating sales, thus not earning commission.

While there are some exceptions, we only go after gainfully employed salespeople. So to us, it is extremely important.

Tips for other organizations: Headhunt these candidates yourself. Don’t go looking for passive candidates on job boards or websites such as Indeed or Monster. The gainfully employed candidates aren’t spending their days applying to jobs. Find them through social networks like LinkedIn, and reach out to them with the opportunity.

– Taylor Dumouchel, Executive Sales Recruiter at Peak Sales Recruiting

Look For Other Qualities

You might think that passive candidates hold an advantage, considering that they are currently working. But that’s not always true. Although the economy has generally recovered from the most recent economic downturn, the unemployment rate is by no means low. There are still plenty of qualified folks out there looking for work. And while this is something to pay attention to, it is probably a mistake to factor someone in or out based upon any particular status – passive or unemployed.

Instead, look at other more reliable characteristics such as a solid work history, stellar references, or even smaller things like showing up for the interview on time with a well-written resume, as a quick example.

You might want to vet an unemployed candidate a little more thoroughly than a passive one, such as finding out why they have yet to find a new job, but either candidate could potentially be a benefit to your organization.

– Andrew Schrage, CEO of Money Crashers

Seek Out Quality, Regardless Of Employment Status

As a business owner I would have more problems with a passive candidate than an unemployed one.

When I’m vetting a candidate, I look more at their skills and dedication to their craft than whether they are employed or not.

As a very specific example, if I’m looking for a social media manager and I come across someone who is unemployed but has been studying for a few years and really knows his craft, that candidate would have a lot more potential to me than someone who is passive and doesn’t seem to care that much about his work.

When it comes down to vetting, I would always recommended looking into what work your perspective candidate has done in the past. Have they had any successes with their profession? Can they prove that they are a professional at their work? You can also research and ask open-ended questions about their profession and see what type of answers they give to evaluate if they sound right for the job.

You should also never rush into hiring someone. Always give it at least a few days after your interview to think it over and decide if they’re right for the position.

– Alex Reichmann, CEO of iTestCash

When it comes to vetting passive candidates and unemployed candidates, what’s your approach? Let us know!


Y Scouts is a leadership search firm that finds purpose-aligned and performance-proven leaders to help organizations achieve their missions faster. Ready to supercharge your leadership search and get the right person in your organization? Contact Y Scouts.