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Tuesday, November 19, 2013

The True Social Referral Happens with the Passive Candidate

By Jessica Miller-Merrell

When you think of social referrals, you likely picture someone who is working their way across every social network, posting rapidly as they go. However, it may be a surprise to hear that social job referrals actually come from those you may never even notice on your social networks. Lying in the shadows, hiding in plain site, passive candidates are the ones to watch for social referrals.

To fully see why passive candidates are to thank for many of your social referrals, it’s important to understand exactly what defines a passive candidate. Some would say a casual job seeker is a passive candidate but in all reality, a passive candidate isn’t a true job seeker yet. The passive candidate hasn’t updated their LinkedIn profile or vented to their best friend that they’ve had enough, and they may not even realize yet that it’s time for a change, though they are likely feeling the itch. The passive candidate knows there are other employment options out there and knows their skill level and experience will make way for their next employment opportunity. Rather than jumping in with both feet, they dip a toe in the water and are educated on what’s available before they ever become active in the job search marketplace.

Knowing what a true passive candidate is, it makes perfect sense that they utilize social networks as their jumping off point before entering the job search. The very nature of social networks is such that browsing, reading and learning can all be done behind closed doors and without anyone knowing.

The non-search search

The first act is usually very innocent, meaning passive candidates don’t set out to search job openings, but somehow found themselves coming across them. It could start by visiting a specific company’s Facebook page, reading a company’s Tweet that catches their eye or by seeing an article in their LinkedIn feed and wanting to know more about the organization.

Safe zone

For passive candidates, the Internet is their playground. They can view to their heart’s content, allowing their search to wander through numerous organizations with just a few anonymous clicks. It requires no commitment, no sign up or applications and is often the starting point of their future job search. The Internet, and social networks especially, are extremely appealing to passive candidates because there is no risk involved in hopping from page to page and seeing what’s out there. The news won’t get back to their boss and their family and friends won’t ask questions yet because aside from their browser history, no one knows about their search.

Information all in one place

Privacy isn’t the only reason passive candidates start their search within social networks. Social sites such as LinkedIn provide a convenience factor that is nearly unparalleled when it comes to hopping from page to page for company and job opening information. Social networks provide bite-size information, educating newbies on what they need to know, rather than requiring them to sift through a website. Each network has it’s own advantages, from the candid posts on a company’s Facebook page to the opportunity to see what the company’s culture is like through images on Instagram, but all provide value to the passive candidate as he or she steps out into the world of the active job search.

Does your organization capitalize on the opportunity to recruit passive candidates online? Tell us how you do it and what challenges you’ve faced in the comments below.

Jessica Miller-Merrell, SPHR is a workplace and technology strategist specializing in social media. She’s an author who writes at Blogging4Jobs. You can follow her on Twitter @blogging4jobs

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