Whenever I go to recruiting conferences, or industry events, it seems someone is always talking about "active" versus "passive" job candidates, and their respective search timelines, as well as how they can be reached, engaged, and on and on. I was just looking at the 2012 Candidate Behavior Study by CareerBuilder and it seems the distinction might be kind of passé. It looks like most people are always kind of looking. At least passively. Or something like that.

If someone really is serious about a new job, the survey says they begin their search in earnest about six months out from when they would ideally like to make a move.

So what is going on during that time? They're spending a lot of time online, as you might imagine, researching opportunities, looking at corporate sites, asking friends, and doing a bunch of Googling.

That insight should serve as impetus to make sure your online presence is active and up to date, that you are creating and publishing engaging content and that the stories you are telling about your culture and DNA, as well as the descriptions of specific open reqs, are accurate and aligned with reality.

“Employers tend to think of active and passive candidates in terms of ‘bad’ and ‘good’,” says Career Builder's Kassandra Barnes. “Yet, passive candidates are not necessarily better than active candidates. If anything, they might even be less ambitious or willing to leave their current company.”

“Employers tend to think of active and passive candidates in terms of ‘bad’ and ‘good.”

Here are some of the key findings from the survey:

  • 77% claimed they were either actively searching for a new job or open to new opportunities
  • 35% say they begin preparing for their next job within weeks of starting a new one (Yikes! Really?)
  • 71% say searching for new opportunities is part of their “regular routine”
  • 27% search for openings frequently, at least once a week

Every staffing, HR and recruiting site, including this one on occasion, weighs in on how to more effectively and productively source passive candidates, using Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other platforms.

Does this survey make you reframe that strategy, or your thinking? How does knowing that most workers are casually browsing opportunities and employers at any given time change the way you work? Or doesn't it? Did you assume this was the case anyway? Do you think there is still a place for the classification of "active" and passive" candidates?

Tags: Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter, News, Active Job Candidates, Passive Job Candidates, Passive Job Seekers, Active versus passive job seekers, Career sites, Psychology of passive behaviors