What is so negative about active job seekers?

Are active job seekers bad hires as compared to passive ones?

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A general perception hovers around active job seekers in the job market— that they may end up as bad hires for a company. Why? Well, the belief is that since they are actively looking for a job, there must be something wrong with them as opposed to passive job seekers who are considered worth pursuing, given their relevant skills and experience. Can active job seekers and passive ones be equally good hires? Why is there so much negativity surrounding active job seekers, and what contributes to it?

Nowadays, company restructuring is frequent and layoffs are rather common. If being too active in the market creates a problem, then the laid-off employees have to approach the situation differently. Being too active may make the employers question why these employees were laid off in the first place, which can lead to doubts surrounding their talents and capabilities.

Being cautious may not be the only solution to finding a new role. The way around for senior employees is to not lean too heavily on the market. Even during downturns, the need for high- quality talent never subsides. A senior-level employee can use networking to find an appropriate role without any harm to their reputation. Senior-level positions take time to fill and desperation from the employees may make the employers uncomfortable.

Ganesh Chandan

“It matters whether the job seeker is an entry-level candidate or a senior-level candidate. For the former, being an active or passive job seeker hardly creates any difference. For the latter, on the other hand, it creates a bad impression to be too active on the job market.”

Relying too heavily on the market may lead to distress job searching, and this causes problems across all levels. Sending out resumes to multiple locations may give the impression that the person is not clear about what she or he is looking for, and is just desperate for a job. It leads employers to think that the candidate does not have a well-defined career path in mind. The stakes are higher for middle- to senior-level employees. This can be one of the reasons why employers seldom consider active job seekers.

As Rajesh Padmanabhan, director and group CHRO, Welspun Group, argues, “Distress job searching is seen negatively. Mature employers do not discriminate between active and passive job seekers. But not all employers have the ability to be neutral. Active job seekers should not excessively canvas their case with prospective employers. Reaching out is positive as long as there is no pursuing or putting pressure. Searchers have to show care, restraint, professionalism and follow processes.”

Active job seekers may be graduates fresh out of college, or middle- to senior-level employees who have been laid off, and the perception differs in both cases. Ganesh Chandan V., CHRO, Tata Projects, argues, “It matters whether the job seeker is an entry-level candidate or a senior-level candidate. For the former, being an active or passive job seeker hardly creates any difference. For the latter, on the other hand, it creates a bad impression to be too active on the job market.”

Rajesh Padmanabhan

“Distress job searching is seen negatively. Mature employers do not discriminate between active and passive job seekers. But not all employers have the ability to be neutral”

The act of job hopping can be another factor contributing to the negativity. Job hopping shows indecisiveness and a lack of responsibility, and such candidates are not taken seriously. In today’s times, it is not uncommon for workers to change companies frequently and this creates a negative perception around the candidate.

Active job seekers may be better hires than passive ones

Active job seekers may be more enthusiastic and eager to engage. They reach out to companies more aggressively and this reduces the effort on the part of the company to find a good fit for any role. This may result in faster hires if the person is found suitable enough.

Armaan Seth

“I think companies have matured enough to consider employees who have been laid off. Because a lot of time, people who are experienced enough can get impacted and companies will certainly take into consideration the calibre and the potential of the employees who have been laid off”

They are less expensive than the passive hires. Employees already associated with a brand will demand a higher remuneration and better benefits to switch to another job. On the other hand, active seekers may focus more on the average wage in the market. Hence, they will cost less to the company willing to hire them. Companies will have less negotiating capacity with a passive candidate as they are the ones to reach out to the candidate first. This may result in the organisation having to provide more to secure them. The same will not apply to a person who reaches out to the company first.

“I think companies have matured enough to consider employees who have been laid off. Because a lot of time, people who are experienced enough can get impacted and companies will certainly take into consideration the calibre and the potential of the employees who have been laid off. Moreover, the new-age companies have good recruitment practices, which can weed out people who are not actually interested or simply trying to test the waters,” says Arman Seth, head-HR, Indian Subcontinent, Philips.

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