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Room 4 Improvement 4

(March 29, 2006)  The second issue we defined in the introductory article is the so called Passive Candidate question. The theory goes something like this. Passive candidates are those people who are gainfully employed and, for a number of reasons, not currently looking for work. Job Boards, it is said, do a lousy job rreaching out to this group.

It's sort of circular reasoning, don't you think. Another way of making this case is to say that the flaw with Job Boards is that they don't reach the people they don't reach. We've written often about Passive Candidates. We've sought them out, defined them and prayed that no one would ever utter this useless term again.

There is no such thing as a passive candidate.

The idea of the passive candidate emerges from the same small thinking we discussed in yesterday's article. It's that marketing generated notion that a universal communications system should work in the global employment market. A passive candidate is someone who can't be reached by a job board.

Let's think about the domestic employment market in the United States as a way of clarifying some things. The following table shows our 'back of the envelope' estimates of the size of various parts of the employment market:



Job Board Users (Active Candidates) 65 27%
All Other Workforce Members (Passive Candidates) 75 31%
Small Business / Grey Market 100 42%

Some small print is necessary. For purposes of this argument, we're going to define "Active Candidate" as "anyone who has ever submitted a resume to a job board, public or private". By definition, we mean "anyone who has not submitted a resume to a job board" when we say "passive candidate". Our "Small Business" category includes the entire range from undocumented landscapers to high paid partners in law firms. It's really the universe of people who work but are not covered by unemployment insurance. The numbers are rough estimates based on far too many years of looking at the statistics. Anyone wishing to make a more specific argument ought to. These rough numbers are adequate for this case.

In the United States alone, 240 million people go to work every day. The number is definitely higher, but the accounting gets obscure. Job boards (large small, vertical and local) do a pretty good job of reaching the market that they reach. There are a number of usability and ethics questions that make it hard to keep a straight face when you say that all 65 million job board users are satisfied customers. But, that's a separate discussion.

For a variety of reasons, slightly more than half of the people covered by employment statistics (everyone but small business people) do not use job boards of any sort. The reasons include: status, specialization, seniority/security, technical sophistication, age (surprisingly, the younger, the less likely to use...it's a privacy thing), education (that its possible to look for work online), education (that it's possible to look for work), education (it's easier to get work from my peers), and internet access. Alumni services, referral systems and other opt-in utilities are beginning to take up some of the slack.

The simple truth, again, is that no one tool is adequate to address the needs of an audience of 240 Million potential employees. Job boards do a tremendous job of serving a huge (65 Million people) marketplace. The employment market, however is more than 3 times that size in the United States alone.

John Sumser  . - .  Permalink . - . Today's Bugler

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