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What drives active and passive job candidates? And how can companies understand their motivations and mindset?


Employees form the foundation of a successful and enduring company. That is why a hiring and recruitment team is crucial in performing the challenging task of talent acquisition. 

Companies are able to find quality candidates for job openings when the hiring team understands and tailors their recruitment process to reach applicants wherever they are in their career. 

Who should hiring teams identify, attract and hire? 

Individuals who are on the hunt for job opportunities usually respond to job postings, networking events, and direct sourcing. These are called active job seekers.

Statistics in the past 2 years say that 3 to 4 out of 10 job seekers are actively seeking new jobs. 

Meanwhile, 6 to 7 out of 10 workers are not job hunting actively. These people have the skills and qualifications that companies want, making these passive candidates a big part of the talent pool. They are normally reached through talent pipelines, attractive employee branding, and direct approach. 

Surveys are consistent in saying that half of passive candidates (54%)  are open to discussing job opportunities with recruiters if they are approached. This gives companies access to a group that would bring value to the company if they are hired.

Thus, companies better have a deep and updated understanding of both active and passive candidates’ motivations, perceptions and needs in order for them to fill job openings and retain top talents. 

Understanding perceptions. What drives passive and active candidates? 

A study involving data from almost 20,000 post exit interviews showed employers’ perception why employees leave. Almost 9 out of 10 companies believe that talents leave because of compensation. However, data from employees say that money is only 12% of the reason why they look for other jobs. 

This disconnect between employers’ and employees’ perception needs to be addressed, so that an increasingly win-win work environment can be achieved. 

  • Company branding has become increasingly important to candidates. 

According to hiring managers, hiring candidates nowadays is faster when candidates are acquainted with the company’s brand. A company which has developed a positive reputation about important things for candidates ( good compensation, rewards for performance, diversity, inclusivity in the workplace, flexible work options, etc) attracts both active and passive candidates. 

  • Responding to the needs of the uniqueness of Millenials and GenZs sends a positive message to talents. 

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, Millennials and GenZs will comprise the majority of the workforce in the next 5 years. And companies who provide more opportunities for skills development and professional training are highly attractive.

  • Having an updated and attractive offer gives companies the edge. 

Surveys comparing 2023 and 2024 data about why workers either leave a job or decline a job offer shows  that career advancement (33% vs 31%), company culture (27% vs 29%) and company leadership (25% vs 26%) are among the top factors that workers consider. 

This gives companies insight on how to create better offers that respond to what factors are most important to employees. 

Hiring and recruitment is all about finding the best job and candidate match. Whether you focus your efforts on active applicants or passive candidates, companies still need to be able to differentiate themselves from others so that they stand out in this changing job seekers’ market.  

In order to do this, companies have to get realistic insights on what motivates employees and what are their current challenges. This way, companies can make sound decisions and create a growing workforce that is both happy and productive. 

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What drives active and passive job candidates? And how can companies understand their motivations and mindset?
Brandon Resasco