Candidates are not active or passive, they are PACTIVE

Pactive Candidates

How many times have you heard the phrase 'Active and Passive candidates? Every week? No more like every day in the recruiting world!
What the hell does it really mean anyway?

LinkedIn have made the bold statement that they believe that only 21% of the people on their network are 'active' candidates, with this definition:

LinkedIn Passive Active Candidates

 But the reality is surely that EVERYONE is active…….IF the right opportunity presented itself, aren't they?

Last week I watched a superb 100 mph presentation by Matt Jeffery , Head of EMEA Talent Acquistion & Global Talent Brand at Autodesk, at the Social Recruiting Conference, where he explained the phrase that we should really be adopting for candidates. Actually he 'borrowed' it from Lisa Scales, the CEO of Tribepad, and it is one that as recruiters we really knew about but never managed to put a word on it. Thanks Lisa!

Matt's / Lisa's descriptive word is 'Pactive' – a simple merging of the two words. Why didn't we think of that earlier?

As I said earlier, everyone (and that includes you and me) will ultimately have a 'price' – and by price I mean a job /salary / location /company that they would ultimately move job for. For many you just won't know what it is until it gets presented to you!

So forget all this active / passive nonsense and start learning to call people pactive from now on!


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  • Good words. It makes complete sense.
    The minute recruiters start closing doors and considering specialist talent inactive, they miss the boat.

    All the time, we see people make career moves we never expected them to make. When an opportunity too good to avoid arises, people will be tempted in 90% of circumstances.

    Everyone is `Pactive` – everyone is reachable. People prefer to hear opportunities from trusted sources/recruiters, rather than be ignored.

  • I understand the logic behind this… but I cordially disagree. If you treat the passive job seeker (which you’ll need to find and sell the job) the same as an active job seeker (the person who responds to an advertisement) then:
    a) you will not hire that passive job seeker, or
    b) you will not hire the right active job seekers.

  • Everyones a still a target for a recruiter – but shouldn’t you treat passive and active candidates differently?


  • I actually think in today’s work climate, there would be very few people that would listen to an opportunity, as long as it presented to them in an appropriate and professional way.

  • I am not saying you would treat them the same Jacco. The point I was making is that the label is wrong. Everyone should be considered – as long as you approach them in the right way.
    Obviously talking to someone who is actively looking for a job would be different to talking to someone who was not expecting a recruiters phone call.

    Any good recruiter would tailor the approach specifically to the intended recipient, of course.

  • Totally.

    As I have explained above – pro-active job seekers would be a totally different conversation to someone in work not expecting a recruitment call.