Recently I've seen a deluge of comments in social media forums, Q&A sections, and even advertisements suggesting that to hire successfully you must find those who are not looking for a new job - also known as "passive candidates." The prevailing thought among many seems to be that the best folks in the talent pool are passive candidates.
Sounds theoretically possible, right? Heck, it's good enough for an argument among those who follow broken traditional recruiting processes. But that's not even the most disturbing part of the logic. One of the commentators revealed more than he may have realized when, as he asked for tips and tricks to find passive candidates, he stated that he's got to find more because they are the top talent he needs.
Stop the presses!
In mathematical terms, that particular logic trail looks like this:
Top Talent = Passive Candidates
Passive Candidates = Top Talent
In other words, if top talent generally comes from passive candidates, then I must focus my searches on passive candidates because they are top talent. What is created by this faulty logic is an assumption that passive candidates have a high probability of being top talent. This assumption often results in less stringent qualification processes, and no surprise, underwhelming performance. By their own definition, passive candidates are not looking for a job. But let's qualify that for a minute.
When I read of someone putting so much emphasis on passive candidates, I see someone who is trying to find the easy route to hiring. There is no substitute for applying consistent, stringent processes that follow a path begun in the correct spot with the right performance measurements. It's what we call, "Hire hard to manage easy."
Here's a helpful visual just in case you should run across the topic of passive candidates in the future:
Passive candidates ≠ Top Talent