I am a sucker for "bumper stickers" like the one that I recently saw for the holidays that said "It's a Jingle Out There." Okay, if you didn't like that one, how about "Ho. Greetings from the Society for the Prevention of Redundancy." Okay, I'll move on, just don't throw anything.
The site where I find these is called Internet Bumper Stickers and there are several categories on the site one of which is Oxymorans and there you will find stickers like Oxymoron #3: "Microsoft Works" or #7: "Government Accountability." Okay, I'll move on from these too, but before I do, I want to try and add what I have arbitrarily labeled Oxymoron #36: Passive Candidate.
What energized me to lobby for this addition? My friend Pete Weddle, as he has on a number of other occasions, prompted me to start pounding away on my keyboard. Pete recently published an article in one of his newsletters which he called Why Recruit Passives? In it, Pete makes, as he always does, a number of very cogent arguments about why "passives" are better than "actives." One of the points he made was this:
... Are active job seekers also qualified? Of course. But passive prospects are passive largely because they are already employed and, therefore, presumably making an acceptable or better contribution to their employers. Data collected by the Yahoo! survey tend to support this view. It found that the average experience level of passive prospects was 18.4 years, with over half reporting more than 20 years in the workplace. The average for active job seekers, in contrast, was 14.9 years of experience, with slightly more than a third reporting more than 20 years on-the-job. In addition, if pay is a measure of a person's perceived value to an enterprise, then passive job seekers are viewed as significantly greater contributors. The average annual salary for passive prospects is $66,100, while the average for active job seekers is over 10% lower at $54,583.Okay, I admit I have not gone back and looked at the Yahoo survey that Pete has referenced, so maybe it defines some of this stuff in more detail, but at least based on what I read in all this, I just don't buy it.
I don't buy the exerience level as much of a criteria for a number of reasons, not the least of which is just because someone has "hung in there" for 20 years or so doesn't mean they aren't "active." I know an awful lot of folks with 20 years in same gig who may not be "actively" looking but that doesn't mean that they are happy campers (we have lots of data from our own surveys that says they aren't) or that they aren't staying where they are because they are afraid on a lot of levels.
There is an old saying that there are two things that cause people to act; one is inspiration and the other is desperation. Point being just because they aren't out there pounding the pavement doesn't mean they wouldn't like to be "active" and certainly doesn't mean that they would be a better or more productive employee than someone who is "active" be they driven by either inspiration of desperation.
I also don't quite get the compensation as a criteria etiher. Compensation is, as we all know, dictated by any number of veriables, such as industry, geography, seniority (and I am not talking about bargaining unit seniority), etc.
That there has been and continues to be a strong bias in this country against people who are "at liberty" as they used to say back in the day versus someone who is "...presumably making an acceptable or better contribution to their employers" is hardly a military secret.
I would submit that at this stage of the downsizing game in our country that there are at least as many folks out there working like hell to find meaningful employment who are every bit as capable if not more so at making "acceptable or better contributions to their employees" as those who are still "presumably" still doing so.
I just don't think there is such a thing as a "passive candidate" in the sense that someone who is currently employed is the definition of 'passive' and someone who isn't employed is the definition of "active."
As far as those who are working being passive or active is concerned, I think that depends on how things went at the office on any given day.