counterpoint to referral based hiring

People often believe that hiring people that were referred to you works out the best.

I started thinking …

Could that be this is a result of the fact that most people who were NOT referred are low quality. I have found that the worst quality job applicants, on average, applied from a job advertisement they see somewhere (though I have seen plenty of exceptions).

Referrals often are not coming from an advertisement but instead are usually happily employed but open to a new position (passive job seekers).

Especially in today’s job market, passive job seekers are generally going to be better than active job seekers.

So if the only passive candidates you are seeing are referrals, than referrals are going to be much better than the alternative.

However, you can actively recruit passive candidates. You can contact people directly who are not looking for jobs and try to convince them to apply. A good recruiter should do this. And it is not clear that these passive candidates would be much worse than the passive candidate that was referred to the organization.

And actively recruiting passive candidates is the recruiting function that most companies fail on.

4 thoughts on “counterpoint to referral based hiring

  1. Parker Emmott

    Great points, Auren. This distinction between the active and passive job seeker is exactly why there is a market for concierge recruiting services to provide access to the passive job seeker. If done right, it can provide a “lean back” means for the passive job seeker to test the market, and a great way for employers to access talent that they would not be able to reach on the job boards. Basically, something between retained search and the job boards. But you are right that there is no substitute for employers’ active pursuit of great talent.

  2. Joshua Baer

    I’ve found that LinkedIn is a great tool for searching out people to hire that are not actively looking for jobs.

  3. Miguel Cavalcanti

    Hello Auren, great post. I agree passive job seekers are the best.
    Your post helped me to think about new ways of finding the “passives”.
    Best wishes, Miguel, from Brazil
    PS: found your blog on Ben´s blog.


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