7 reasons why employers should hire active job seekers

A disturbing conversation with statewide colleagues revealed that some hiring authorities are still overlooking “active” job candidates and only considering “passive” candidates. I thought employers were getting past this malarkey and letting go of the idea that only passive candidates are best. Apparently not.


Do you remember way back in 2011 when some employers shamefully admitted to not hiring active job seekers? I performed a search on this topic and found the infamous article from the  Business Insider,  72 companies that might not hire you unless you already have a job, supporting this fact.

There is something inherently wrong with employers refusing to hire people who are out of work for one year, six months, and even three months. It is especially heinous if employers are still carrying out this practice during COVID-19.

Here are seven reasons why employers should hire active job seekers.

1. It is often beyond a person’s control when they’re laid off. CNBC announced in 2015 that Kraft Food was going to lay off 2,600 people. All very capable and diligent employees, they were not terminated due to poor performance. They were terminated because the employer failed.

Other large employers in my part of the state, such as Philips Lighting and EMC, and Keurig Dr. Pepper have laid off many skilled people. Again, employees losing their jobs had nothing to do with their performance. Yet somehow employers overlook the fact that victims of major layoffs are unworthy of consideration.

2. The unemployed cannot be accused of not wanting to work. In fact, getting back to work is their motivating factor in life. Employers should see this as an opportunity to hire hungry qualified active job seekers.

According to a poll taken for a 2015 Indeed.com article, still applies: “VPs say active candidates have better motivational drive than passive candidates. When a candidate shows interest and applies in a job, they’re more likely to be invested in the role and have a higher chance at succeeding.”

I was encouraged to hear from Amy Miller, a recruiter at Amazon, that she searches for people who have the “Open to Work” displayed on their LinkedIn profile photo. More employers should take this approach in hiring.

3. Good job candidates shouldn’t be blamed for inadequate job-searching. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve listen to job seekers say they’ve sent out hundreds of resumes, using Indeed.com, Monster.com, Dice.com—and other job boards—without getting any love.

The sad fact is that they know the best ways to conduct their job search, but they can’t bring themselves to network, use LinkedIn properly, contact their alumni association, enlist the help of recruiters, and basically get out of their house. They do what’s easy, not what’s right.

Furthermore, when they land an interview with employers, they freeze and all the intelligence they possess seems to vanish like fog. They go to interview after interview where they become increasingly nervous. Employers need to recognize this as nerves, not that candidates are incapable of doing the job.

4. To improve the economic landscape, people have to work in order to contribute. Doesn’t it make sense to hire a capable active job seeker as opposed to someone who is already employed? My feelings are particularly strong about this given the pandemic has all but killed many businesses.

One might reason that the person who leaves an employer for the next one will be replaced by a new employee. Not necessarily. Employers aren’t quick to fill vacant positions. Reviving the weak economy must be a priority of employers.

5. Employers’ complaints they can’t find enough talented workers is an excuse they use for not being able to pull the trigger. What they’re saying is that they can’t find someone who can assume the duties immediately, and aren’t willing to take a chance on active job seekers who (related to # 2) want to work.

In a conversation I had years ago with a recruiter, he told me his list of positions that needed to be filled was a mile long. He said it wasn’t for lack of trying, his hiring managers wanted the perfect candidates.

Perhaps an active job seeker doesn’t have the latest experience in Java or Salesforce or HR procedures, but they have the motivation and ability to update their skills. These candidates will probably make the best employees in the long term, if given the opportunity to learn.

6. Let’s not forget about emotional intelligence (EQ) which is perhaps more important than expertise in the latest technology. Reports claim that people with high EQ are 58% more likely to be successful than those who lack EQ.

Employers must look beyond an active job seeker’s resume and give them a chance to demonstrate themselves in an interview. Yet, too many active job seekers don’t get past the resume scan if they have an employment gap of more than three months.

7. It’s just plain wrong to default to passive candidates. As a webinar/career coach at an urban career center, I see the hopes of my clients crushed by being interviewed a number of times only to find out that an employer hired people who were already working.

Hiring employers must show compassion and try their best to hire qualified candidates who need the work. They have a moral obligation to hire qualified job seekers, regardless of their age, disability, race, gender, or employment status.

As well, a gap of up to a year doesn’t necessarily mean the active job seeker is unable to do the work required and do it well. Related to number 3, some job seekers struggle emotionally with their job search. This can be a huge barrier in finding work.

One more: active job seekers aren’t broken. To recruiters, “passive” job seekers seem like a sure bet. But there’s one thing they need to consider: just because someone is unemployed, it doesn’t mean they’re broken. Additionally, not all passive seekers are quality workers. Let’s keep this in mind. Please.

Photo: Flickr, Troy Granger 


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s