HR ChallengesHR Stories

What is the Difference Between Active Vs Passive Sourcing?

Have you wondered what is the difference between active vs passive sourcing? Active sourcing is when you are actively looking for a candidate, whereas in passive sourcing, you wait for the candidate to come to you. As discussed, it has been split based on their interest in searching for open positions. As a recruiter, we will be looking for the right candidate to occupy the open positions. The candidate can either be unemployed or employed and looking for another job. The employee is not actively seeking opportunities anymore but is willing to join another company for better perks and salary. The software consultation company needs to find the best candidates that suit their work culture in this competitive job market.

Before posting their job for vacancies, any recruitment team must step back and think about what type of candidates we are looking for? And where can we find them? Answering these questions can help us reduce recruitment stress and leads us to streamline the path of recruitment.

Before that, let's understand,


What is Active Sourcing?

The active way of sourcing the promising candidates for the job position even if they aren't employed or are currently on the job hunt. For example, a recruiter sources the potential candidate at a job fair, campus placements, networking events, etc.


Must Read: How to Describe Your Engineering Work Experience on a Resume?


What is Passive Sourcing?

The proactive way of sourcing the candidates for the job position on employed candidates and reaching out to them for new opportunities. For example, a candidate who works in a company gets matched to the recruiter of another company. The candidate gets contacted by the recruiter for an open position.

In this blog, let's dive deep into understanding the difference between Active & Passive Sourcing and how it helps recruiters streamline the talent pipeline.


Content List


Facts and Figures:

  • According to the stats by a professional networking site, 70% of the global workforce is passive talent, with the remaining 30% are actively seeking jobs
  • According to Careerarc study, 77% of passive candidates rates themselves as the top and above-average performers, compared to only 70% of active candidates and 67% of non-job seekers
  • According to a Stackoverflow survey, three-quarters of tech professionals are open to new opportunities, but only 15% of them are actively looking

Significance of Active and Passive Sourcing

"Nothing we do is more important than hiring and developing people. At the end of the day, you bet on people you bet on people, not on strategies" - Lawrence Bossidy (Former COO, General Electric)

Nowadays, scouting for suitable candidates has become the biggest challenge in the job market for recruiters. Companies worldwide are dealing with a shortage of skilled workers. To attract every hidden, active and passive talent, employers must proactively follow the methodology of active sourcing. Active sourcing is still gaining relevance and demand as a successful recruiting method. As a result, a good candidate will help with a better ROI for the business after investing every resource in the candidate.

If the perfect candidate is not found in the pool of active candidates, then the company can go with the passive candidates. The pool of passive candidates is also pretty larger. Proactively contacting these candidates is so effective compared with traditional passive recruitment. Passive candidates will not leave the job if the company offers compensation more than the current situation. Having a passive candidate will bring a growth mindset to the workforce in an organization.


Why Should the Recruiters Understand the Difference Between Passive Sourcing vs Active Sourcing?

"Sourcing is the proactive method for qualified job candidates for current or planned open positions" - SHRM Society of human management.

Active sourcing is always considered the proactive method. This sourcing helps to identify suitable candidates within the job market, establish personal contact, expand the talent pool, and build long term relationships. Every job seeker has started keeping the benchmarks on the work culture, career plans, perks & benefits, etc. They prefer to get into the right job rather than settle for any. On the other hand, scouting the candidates is pretty tricky when it comes to passive sourcing. Because they don't show any signs that they want to change their jobs or move on. Hence, it is important to understand the difference between passive sourcing vs active sourcing.

Let's understand some of the factors over the importance of active and passive sourcing:

  • Having the candidates get pre-selected reduces the hiring process's length and cost.
  • Recruiters can interpret that they are hiring the best candidates in the job market instead of someone who has applied for the job by seeing the job post.
  • Sourcing the candidates across active and passive isn't easy, but once done then, they bring a lot of potential to the company.
  • As active sourcing consumes more time initially, it helps over pre-selecting candidates as it reduces the cost and length of the hiring process.
  • Scaling the hiring process is faster as the recruiters and the candidates have already built a relationship.
  • Hiring operations aren't affected due to unexpected vacancies and positions.
  • The talent acquisition team can immediately scout the right talents to fill up the position by active sourcing.
  • It is easy to tailor the job description and postings for the candidates according to their qualifications and experience.
  • As the passive candidates come with many skillsets, experience, and education, they significantly impact the organization.
  • Passive candidates are hardworking and passionate as they were already employed in a good job.

How to Do Active vs Passive Recruiting?

Active vs passive recruiting are the two recruitment approaches for the different types of candidates as we can feel that active and passive sourcing are way different. But they are pretty similar. Active sourcing can be learnt from the methods of passive sourcing. You have active vs passive candidates. Active candidates are those who plan to move and are looking for a job, while passive candidates are employed but open to new opportunities.

Let's analyze some of the big things that you can include in your recruitment strategy to make sure you're scouting the best one:


    1. Employment Branding:

    You must always share your employer branding across job postings, websites, social media channels, press releases, outreach messages, etc. Also, make sure that your employer branding must be compelling and believable as it makes your active vs passive job seekers the referrals to scout the best hire for your organization.


    2. Killer Job Postings:

    Job postings are the traditional way of reaching out to candidates. So by mentioning the job postings, you must always be aware of referring it across the employee referral programmes to find the active candidates easily and pass it out across the passive one.


    3. Social Media:

    One of the significant ways to make active and passive sourcing is by building a solid social media presence. Your social media channels are a powerful medium to leverage your employment brand.


    4. Proactive Sourcing:

    An effective way of sourcing active and passive candidates is by proactive sourcing. While most active candidates can reach out for employment by seeing your job postings, proactive sourcing helps to find the passive candidates either by boolean searches or social media.


    5. Positive Candidate Experience:

    One of the best ways of attracting candidates is by creating a first impression through the recruitment process. As a recruiter, when you first put the application and interview process, make sure to design every hiring process more effective. It is essential to check with every application process on how it works, what type of candidates, and more.


    6. Assess Current and Projected Needs:

    Every organization must understand its current and projected staffing needs. They can conduct a staffing assessment that identifies the current and forecasted organization needs, workforce, skills, and knowledge.


    7. Cultural Fit:

    While the candidates need to like your company's offer and its culture, the company needs to create a dynamic work culture that helps the candidates to leverage their position inside your organization, employee engagement, performance and productivity. It makes the candidates happier, have greater job satisfaction, are more committed, perform better and stay with the organization for a long time.


Should A Company Focus on Active or Passive Sourcing?

Yes, It is significant for every recruiter in the organization to segment the active and passive sourcing. It helps the recruiters understand the need for the role and its priorities to fill up the position. Sourcing the candidates enhances the organization to fill its workforce with bright minds and streamline its talent pipeline with the proper methodologies. It is essential to understand that the active candidates don't reach out to you immediately, or the best ones or passive candidates aren't easy to pick immediately. If all this happens quickly, there is some mistake in your work. Whether active or passive sourcing, it is all about how you communicate.

Now, there are pros and cons to passive sourcing. Let’s take a look at the positives first. There is comparatively less competition. You also get a better timeframe to work around the hiring process. Passive candidates are more likely to bring more experience, and skills as suited for the role. Passive candidates are also generally more prepared. But, there are also some cons. For example, if you are hiring passive candidates it is very likely that your competitors are doing the same with you. Concentrating on hiring just one employee will lead to a talent shortage. To bring in the best fit qualified candidates, you would need to pay more. It is also likely that they may change their mind if the current company they work for offers them a better deal. Also, understanding your candidates' motivations and fit allows you to help them succeed once they start.


Trending topic: What are the Recruiters Looking for in a Phone Interview?


Focusing recruitment on one group or the other can help you fill-up the open positions in an organization. But the recruiters need to build a robust recruitment strategy that will help them build a strong team that is constantly developing. It allows leveraging your employer branding, which will help you to scout the potential candidates to be sourced for future job openings.



    1. How to source active and passive candidates?
    • Expand your social presence across different social media platforms
    • Invest in automation tools
    • Establish referral programmes
    • Explore job boards and candidate database service
    • Focus on enhancing the work culture and growth potential
      2. Why sourcing is essential in recruitment?

    Building a pipeline of candidates is the most effective way to manage the company's talent needs. Sourcing allows you to connect with the potential candidates far before the candidate's needs arise. It is precious when you consider hiring a new employee can take several months.

      3. How is sourcing different from recruiting?

    The process of actively seeking out, finding, and hiring candidates for a specific position or job is known as recruitment. The recruitment definition encompasses the entire hiring process, from initial screening to integrating the individual recruit into the company. Sourcing, also known as procurement, is locating and selecting businesses or individuals based on predetermined criteria.

Show More


  1. An fascinating dialogue is price comment. I think that it is best to write more on this topic, it may not be a taboo topic however typically people are not enough to talk on such topics. To the next. Cheers

  2. Thanks , I’ve recently been searching for information about this subject for a long time and yours is the best I have discovered so far. However, what about the bottom line? Are you certain in regards to the source?

  3. Hello There. I found your blog using msn. This is a very well written article. I?ll make sure to bookmark it and come back to read more of your useful info. Thanks for the post. I?ll certainly comeback.

  4. I like the helpful information you provide in your articles. I?ll bookmark your blog and check again here regularly. I am quite certain I will learn plenty of new stuff right here! Good luck for the next!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Back to top button