Are you an ‘active’ or ‘passive’ job seeker?


Eric Wale

This is a question I see recruiters asking often, and I have to admit that I actually hate it.

I have an issue with the ‘active’ versus ‘passive’ job seeker titles, and it all comes down to mindset.

One piece of advice I always share with job seekers is that you need to put yourself in the right headspace before any meeting or approach. This is often hard to control, but one of the utmost importance in my opinion

Allow me to explain.  As a search firm, we are often presenting jobseekers to companies who are considered ‘passive’, those who are already securely in a position and fairly comfortable to walk away if the opportunity presented is not appealing enough for them.  On the other end of the spectrum we have the ‘active’ job seeker, eager to find employment and often prepared to be flexible around certain areas such as salary, seniority, and location in order to secure a new role.

When presenting a mix of the two to companies, we see an overwhelming number of the ‘passive’ candidates being called back for a second meeting, as opposed to those that are ‘active’.  I believe it has nothing to do with the experience levels, especially given that often the ‘active’ candidate can often have more to offer given their flexibility, and everything to do with how they have conducted themselves during the interview.  

Those who are ‘passive’ will have the confidence to ask the right questions, would often have conducted their research before agreeing to the meeting and essentially conducted themselves in such a way that the interview turns into more of a two-way conversation, a meeting more than an interview.

Confidence comes from knowing that the decision goes both ways, and is not just in the company’s hands. This may seem like a small change, but the difference in a meeting is huge and the results of which we have seen cannot be disputed.

Although a word of warning: be careful as confidence can easily cross the line into arrogance and that is not an attractive trait for any would-be employer!

My advice is therefore to approach every interview as a meeting, go prepared and be confident that the decision is for both parties.  If you ask questions to determine whether the company is one that you would like to work for, and have answered all of their questions honestly and to the best of your ability, then I would feel confident knowing that if either party walks away, it was in both parties’ best interests. 

Feel free to share your thoughts!