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Glossary: HR & Recruiting Definitions

Active Candidate

An active candidate is someone looking for a new job opportunity. Most active candidates job hunt online, using job boards and search sites to search through job post listings and apply for job vacancies. Many active candidates will also upload their resume or portfolio to a job search platform to make it easy for recruiters to find them for relevant roles.

What is the difference between active and passive candidates?

A recruiting strategy generally involves both active and passive candidate sourcing. Here’s a quick look at some of the main differences between active and passive candidates:

Active candidate

  • Typically is unemployed and available to start a new job immediately
  • Proactively searching for a new job
  • Will set up job alerts to be notified of new relevant job posts from job boards, career sites, and job search sites
  • Is actively applying to job openings

Passive candidate

  • Is currently employed and wouldn’t necessarily be able to leave their position on short notice
  • Not looking for a new job but could be interested in a new opportunity
  • Might have their attention caught by a job post while casually browsing online on LinkedIn or other social media sites
  • Wouldn’t apply for a job unless they were personally engaged to do so

How can startups or SMBs reach more active candidates?

Reaching more active candidates will, in turn, increase the number of applications a job posting will deliver. Follow these three tips to engage and attract a higher number of relevant active candidates:

Optimize your job postings: Candidates are searching and filtering for jobs by title, skills, location, etc., so your job descriptions should include all possible relevant keywords to appear in the right search results.

Share your job posts on social media: Social Media posting gets your job posts in front of more people, especially when employees or other followers are encouraged to share your posts.

Have a mobile-friendly career site: Job seekers are increasingly using mobile devices to search and apply for jobs. Either incorporate responsive design in your career site or make sure it's mobile-friendly to preserve the main functionalities.

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