The professional networking site LinkedIn has announced some new features to make it more attractive to both job seekers and employers, Ken Yeung notes at VentureBeat. For employees looking to change jobs, the new Open Candidates feature solves the problem of their current employer finding out that they’re playing the field:
In research conducted in the past year, LinkedIn claimed that 77 percent of professional workers are open to their next opportunity. However, with social media, the fear has been that any signal made on a profile could get back to an employer, which is why the Open Candidates feature lets anyone operate stealthily. It’s perfect for those who are open to change, but aren’t precisely set on making a move … yet. “This is a signal to recruiters that you want to hear from them,” explained Eric Owski, LinkedIn’s head of talent brand products.
To use Open Candidates, access the jobs homepage on the social network, select preferences, and scroll to the section labeled “Let recruiters know you’re open.” Toggle the setting to notify recruiters that you can be contacted, and then complete the fields below, such as the field and title you’re interested in — which will be used to guide recruiters, but not limit searches — job type, availability date, location preferences, and a short introduction about yourself. All of these details will be used to target recruiters and will be kept confidential from not only your employer, but also any affiliated companies.
While this option is most directly aimed at skittish employees who are afraid of getting caught job hunting online, it’s good news for recruiters as well. Considering that 25 percent of the labor market is active, 45 percent is passive, and 30 percent is neutral, Open Candidates may give companies better access to that 30 percent that is open to a new opportunity but not actively pursuing one. Making it easier for employees to explore their options discreetly also puts more pressure on employers to deliver better careers for their best people or risk letting them slip away. Ingrid Lunden at TechCrunch approves of the new feature:
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Forbes contributor Liz Ryan doesn’t like the term “passive candidates.” In a post billed as telling the “horrible truth” about this segment of the talent market, Ryan gives corporate recruiting functions a partly-deserved slap on the wrist, but presents a somewhat confused view of both passive candidates and the merits of a recruiting strategy premised on sourcing them. She begins by defining what a passive candidate is (and is not):
“Passive” job candidates are all the rage among lots of employers these days. They want to find their own candidates rather than running job ads and talking with the job-seekers who respond to those ads. These days, employer representative and in-house recruiters pick up the phone and call unsuspecting working people to say, “Want to come and work for our company?” nearly as often as third-party recruiters do. …
A “passive job seeker” is anything but passive. They get up and go to work and take care of a million details every day the same way we all do. They are only passive from the employer’s point of view. You want to talk about passive? The standard recruiting process, the one that is showing its ineffectiveness in the new millennium, is the most passive business process anyone could imagine. Many employers run job ads and expect qualified applicants to flock to their door. That’s about as passive as you can get!
The “passive” candidate is referred to as such in recruiting circles not as slight on their productivity or engagement with their current employer (if that were the case, recruiters wouldn’t be interested in targeting them), but rather because they are not actively applying for the job you have. More on why that is important in a moment, but first it’s worth stating that I agree with Ryan that the standard recruiting process, whereby organizations post their jobs on job sites and hope for qualified applicants to find them, is largely ineffective, particularly in segments where individuals have multiple options. Ryan rightly identifies the content of job ads as an endemic failing:
In its annual Candidate Behavior Study, CareerBuilder finds that “3 in 4 (75 percent) of full-time employees are either open to or actively searching for new job opportunities”:
The average job seeker is more empowered than ever before – from a growing economy to advances in technology that make searching for new careers fast and easy.
In the past, CareerBuilder and other industry thought leaders would distinguish between “active” and “passive” job seekers – those who are committed to finding a new job and others who are simply browsing to keep an eye on the opportunities available, respectively. With an overwhelming number of employed candidates open to new opportunities, the days of making this distinction may be over.
Technological changes are indeed blurring the distinction between active and passive job seekers. Data we’ve collected at CEB shows that in less than five years, the number of employees regularly keeping their online professional profiles up to date has risen by 10 percentage points. Today, about a quarter of all employed individuals actively maintain a professional online presence.
Dr. John Sullivan at ERE marvels at Google’s sneaky sourcing program that identifies top tech talent by the things they search for on the job, then lures them in with puzzles that serve as a pre-offer assessment:
The program has two major components. The first (a “keyword sourcing” approach) identifies employed top talent (some call them passives) based on the advanced terminology that they place in the Google search box while learning and doing their job. After they are identified, an unexpected message appears on their open Google search page stating “You speak our language.”
The second component challenges them to “follow the white rabbit” to an invitation-only “foobar” page. This begins a series of coding puzzles/problems (that can take over 30 hours to complete) that are designed to first excite and then to assess their capabilities. With fewer than 20 total hires during its short run, rabbit hole certainly isn’t a large program but it does produce quality. It has an extremely high offer rate (nearly 20 percent of interviewees) and an amazing 100 percent offer acceptance rate.
There are several important lessons that corporate recruiting leaders should learn from this Google program. The first is that the best way to identify top employee talent is not through resumes or profiles, but by finding a proxy for “their work” online, which, in this case, are the advanced search terms that reveal the high level of their work. A second almost-as-important lesson is that rather than relying on what they see as boring interviews to assess top talent, excite and assess them with some form of real-world puzzle or contest.