We Are Not All Passive Candidates
I’ve recently blogged the findings of some Jobsite research which shows that the most important factor in a happy working life is having a good relationship with our work colleagues. Most surprising were the relatively healthy numbers (there were some age and gender differences) who would reject a move with a pay rise in favour of staying with colleagues that they respect and get on with.
I found it particularly interesting as I’ve always considered the belief that all employees are either an active or passive candidate to be a myth. The thought that anyone will change jobs for a pay rise, a promotion, a new challenge or because someone thinks they are headhuntable is daft. It ignores the complex range of motivations, relationships and emotions that make up the human race…in favour of the vision of recruiter as powerful kingmaker who can sell anybody anything.
A few years ago I worked in a business that had a small team placing senior sales people within a niche industry. All the roles were retained – third on target list, third on shortlist interviews and balance on acceptance – yet the team rarely ever billed the last third. They identified the best candidates and got them to final interview…yet few deals were closed. The individuals were all good recruiters but the candidates could not be closed. The client would offer, take them out to dinner with their partners, yet still not seal the deal.
Because the final decision for the candidate was about much more than a new title, an extra £5k or a bigger car. It was about stability, lifestyle, and family security…loyalties, friendships and relationships built in the current company. Some colleagues were golf partners; some had children at the same school as the candidate’s and some had wives or husbands who had also become social friends.
It wasn’t about a lack of vision or confidence but about doing the right thing for everyone.
I have debated this long and hard in the past. I respect the view that the right opportunity will encourage someone to think about moving jobs, but don’t agree that a move will inevitably follow. From my experience it’s not just about the ‘right’ opportunity… security and stability, particularly during tough times, are often overlooked as key drivers for many employees.
The three component model of engagement looks at commitment to an organization as a psychological state, and has three distinct components that affect how employees feel about the organisation that they work for:
- Affection for your job (strong emotional attachment to the company and the work you do…identification with goals and values)
- Fear of loss (the loss one may experience by leaving is greater than the benefit they might gain in a new role)
- Sense of obligation to stay (because it’s the ‘right’ thing to do, maybe because of an investment made in you, or through a moral/familial view of loyalty)
It suits recruiters (agency and corporate) to perpetuate the belief that everyone is either active or open to looking but it isn’t the case. Average length in a job is often used to support this but it’s a random statistic and an unreliable measure as different levels and seniorities will have different tenures. An average won’t take into account trainee roles that only last 1 or 2 years, nor general wastage as people choose to relocate, re-train or generally try something new.
It’s widely thought that most people in the workforce falling under the ‘Gen X’ or lower end ‘Baby Boomer’ categories may probably average 10 jobs in a career…but this isn’t because they are all high achievers who jump ship every 2/3 years when a new opportunity is floated in front of them.
The truth is that there are many committed, engaged, passionate and loyal people out there who believe in what they are doing and who they do it for…and more often than not they are the ones that recruiters want to reach. But they usually remain out of reach.
And do businesses really want passive candidates if they can be reached?
As Gerry Crispin found in the research “There is a tendency by recruiters and hiring managers to believe that passive candidates are better but they’re hiring a mix that’s mostly the active candidates who come to the career site or (apply) through job boards.”
(Plug : If you have colleagues that you value, respect or just plain like then don’t forget to enter a snap of them in the Jobsite 9-to-5 Buddies competition! You can win £250 of drinks to share with them!)