Jan 25 2007
I’ve been wanting to do a posting on this topic for a little while. A few weeks ago, I put something up on what the difference is between a “lead” and a “candidate”, so I think I should take my own advice and call these people leads to begin with! I don’t present candidates to my recruiters any more; I give them leads. It’s up to them to turn them into candidates if they are a good fit for the client. They do this by calling the leads I give them and qualifying them.
As for active vs. passive leads, what I wanted to get out of writing on this topic is an understanding of a couple of value differences between the two. Compare a Cadillac and a Ford Festiva. Both are vehicles; both will get you from point A to point B. But one will typically outlast the other and get you places in greater style and comfort. And cost is a big difference: you pay for quality when you buy the Caddy, and you pay for economical benefits with the Festiva. Plus, no offense to anyone who drives a Festiva, but you wear a car like that and an Escalade will backfire bigger things than a Festiva!
As a researcher you will use different resources to find these two very different types of leads. And as a recruiter, you will probably get different responses when you call on these two different types of leads!
- Active leads are found on active resume boards. You will most likely find an active lead somewhere like CareerBuilder, HotJobs, Dice, and Monster. If you use these types of resources, good for you. You will certainly find a plethora of resumes fitting your job requirements. Just make sure you are prepared to fight other recruiters for these people! Folks have their resumes on these sites for a reason – they want a good paying job that’s less stressful than their current work environment. That is, if they are even currently employed. A good handful of the people who have a resume up on a job board are unemployed, and that’s why they want to get as much exposure as possible (i.e. the hundreds of recruiters who will inevitably view their resume).
- Passive leads will be found at work – working. You will find passive leads through sources such as press releases, company profiles, trade associations, and the like. Researchers, if you want to find quality leads for your recruiters, you will at some point need to venture away from the job boards and learn some passive sourcing techniques. Recruiters, if you’re interested in gainfully employed, successful individuals that might not use your opportunity as leverage for a higher paying salary at another opportunity, then you’re going to have to pick up the phone and call these leads at their companies, because that’s typically where you’ll find that type of person – at work. My opinion on this matter is that if a person is being quoted or written about in a published news article, they are probably doing something good in their industry and would warrant at least a networking phone call.
- Active leads are usually active for a reason. Take this into consideration: if you, as a recruiter, were unhappy with your current position, would you personally put your resume up on a job board? If your answer is ‘yes’, you might want to rethink that. Most would answer with a resounding ‘NO!’ because you understand that YOUR company probably looks there from time to time. Noticing one of your employees having their resume on a job board would send up some serious red flags. I have even heard of big companies who have HR folks troll the job boards once a week looking to see who in their company has posted their resume. Most (but not all, I will add) active leads who have their resume out there do so because they are not currently employed and need a job NOW. In your mind, you should be wondering why they are not currently employed, especially if they have been unemployed for a number of months.
*I will also add here that posting jobs on big job boards is also risky; a client of a former employer had its HR department check the big job boards once a week to make sure we were not posting their opportunities and sending them people from those sources!
- Passive leads are usually passive because they are doing well at their current job. This is not to say that a passive lead would not be interested in exploring other opportunities. How do you find out? You pick up the phone and call them, of course! In my honest opinion, one should always be open-minded to other opportunities out there. It is a pretty arrogant person who thinks they cannot possibly improve their current situation. When you think there’s no room for improvement in your life, there’s one big indicator that there is A LOT of room!
- Active leads are usually talking to many other recruiters. No matter WHAT they may tell you! One question that almost all recruiters I know ask their potential candidates is ‘are you currently exploring any other opportunities?’ If you got your lead from an active job board, 9 times out of 10 the honest answer they should give you is yes. I don’t know how many times I’ve seen deals go south because a candidate took another offer that we were shocked to find out about! Hey, you can’t fault people for wanting to have as many options as possible, but as a recruiter you want the monogamous relationship with your candidates. However, I have heard the saying that a job is simply a dating relationship which will be ended as soon as a better one comes along.
- Passive leads are more choosy about the opportunities they pursue. Good passive candidates will get phone calls from recruiters from time to time. I was just talking to a friend of mine the other day who works in sales, and I asked him if recruiters call him. He responded, “Yes, I usually get at least one call a week from a recruiter.” I asked him what his thoughts were on that, and he said, “I am always nice to them because you never know when you’ll need them. And I always listen to their opportunities. I don’t usually pursue them, but one of these days one of those opportunities will be perfect for me and I’ll want to look into it further. And if I choose not to pursue their opportunity, I can usually recommend someone that I know who is looking.” Not every person is going to be as nice as my friend in this respect, but this is what true recruiting is all about – networking!
My closing thoughts on this topic are this: if you need instant resumes, use a job board. But don’t use ONLY job boards as your resource, especially if you are a researcher!! This is something that bothers me constantly; that researchers are viewed simply as resume gatherers from those resume boards. Like we walk out in to the resume-tree orchard and just start plucking away. That is not research. That to me is like someone saying they did ‘research’ online by typing in a company or product name into Google and looked at the first website that popped up to come up with their own personal opinion. No, no no! Research is more in-depth and you must use multiple sources! Didn’t we learn that in high school science? If you are a researcher, take the time to learn how to do passive sourcing! If you are a new researcher, take an AIRS course. Find out who some of the prominent researchers are out there and ask them to help you.
If you are a recruiter, using only job boards cheapens your work. Why would a company pay you a 25% fee to do something they can hire someone for $8/hour to do (harvest resumes)? If you are a new recruiter, you will cripple yourself if you rely only on active resumes bo
ards. You will never learn how to really recruit. Ask any successful tenured recruiter what percentage of their placements comes from active resumes vs. passive/networked candidates and referrals. You will find that the majority of their placements come from people they found through cold calling and networking. A 7-year tenured recruiter in our franchise organization has billed nearly $4MM in his time as a recruiter, placing over 300 people in new opportunities. When asked the percentage of those people who came from passive sources, the reply was about 80%. That is powerful!
My FINAL thought (I feel like Jerry Springer here…): if your researcher gives you a list of passive leads, call them. Network with them. You will be surprised at how far these lists will take you. If they give you a resume, consider that a bonus gift. Active leads (resumes) are like the cheap jewelry you get at Wal Mart – it looks pretty for a little bit but it will turn your skin green and you would not be heartbroken if you lost it. A passive lead is like a flawless diamond from a reputable jeweler: you’ll be more likely to treat it well, cherish it, and you’ll get plenty of compliments on it!