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Passive vs. Active Jobseekers: Report Uncovers a Big Disconnect

If your company is like most employers, research finds, then you're probably underestimating the number of passive jobseekers within your organization.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017
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Recent research from the ADP Research Institute finds there's a big disconnect between companies and their workers in the perception of how many employees are actively looking for new jobs, and how many are passively looking.

The Evolution of Work report, produced by the research arm of the Roseland, N.J.-based global HCM vendor, is based on a survey of 2,000 employees and managers in 13 countries. The survey found that while only 24 percent of employees are actively seeking a new job, 42 percent said they're not actively looking yet are open to considering a new position. Meanwhile, employers overestimated the number of active jobseekers within their ranks: When asked to estimate the number of active jobseekers within their organization, they chose an average of 37 percent. Yet their estimate of the number of passive jobseekers within their workforce -- 22 percent -- was way off from the actual number of 42 percent.

"Employers are definitely overestimating the number of active jobseekers and underestimating the number of passive seekers," says Ahu Yildirmaz, a co-head of the ADP Research Institute and co-author of the report. "In order for employers to win the talent war, they need to really understand their employees and they should be aware of this vulnerable pool of employees -- the passive jobseekers."

Why are so many organizations underestimating the number of passive jobseekers within their ranks? Yildirmaz says it's because they're more focused on attracting new talent than on retaining and engaging the talent they already have.

"If you think about the talent cycle, it's not just about attracting new candidates, but keeping your existing employees, too," she says.

The report found that although money matters when it comes to attracting and keeping talent, but it's far from the only thing. Globally, 44 percent of employees say they'd consider taking a new job that offered the same or less salary than their current one. The top five factors for attracting and keeping employees, the report finds, are career development opportunities, work hours, the work itself, company reputation and flexibility.

"Not surprisingly, we found that the top five factors that attract talent are the same five that keep them at an organization," says Yildirmaz. "This tells us that we have to deliver on what we promise."

Indeed, the report finds, six out of 10 employees said they'd walked away from a job opportunity because it turned out not to be what was promised.

The take-away for recruiters, says Yildirmaz, is that jobseekers -- especially millennials -- are focused on career development. Seventy three percent of employees said their personal development goal is to grow at their company, but nearly half (49 percent) believe they'll need to leave their current employer in order to advance their career. This means recruiters should emphasize the potential for career development of the job they're trying to fill, and ensure that onboarding programs touch on this as well. Younger candidates are also looking for meaning in their work, she says, which means recruiters should try and emphasize a job's potential to help improve society and offer interesting work.

"The work itself really matters," says Yildirmaz.

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