The candidate journey has changed so much over the years, going from a relatively uniform interchange to meet two parties’ needs to something complicated, smart and winding today. If the typical active candidate journey has changed, then of course the passive candidate journey has changed as well. In fact, the very notion of passive candidates has changed a lot, which has certainly impacted their journey. Just a few decades ago, loyalty meant staying with a company your entire life and passive candidates weren’t just not actively looking for a new job but also may not have even considered it if the opportunity did arise.

Today’s workforce is committed to their employers, but doesn’t typically offer lifelong loyalty. They expect a lot from their employers and know that a career move can be a good thing, even if they’re not necessarily unhappy in their current position. They’re active on social media where it’s inevitable that they’ll see job postings and advertisements from employers, and they have a growing online network of peers that could be their next job connection, though they don’t necessarily view them in that way.

With all these shifts in the current workforce, it makes sense that passive candidates are seeing the job market differently than ever before and moving differently than we’ve ever seen. The passive candidate journey may be complicated, but knowing the path is the first step in creating recruiting efforts that will make an impact. There are six steps in the typical passive candidate journey, and we’ll explore them in a two-part series here. Take a look at this journey, from start to finish:

Step 1: Unaware, oblivious and employed

If this first step of the passive candidate journey were a scene in a movie, it’d be the opening credits where the two main characters are being filmed separately going about their day, completely unaware of each other and the meet-cute about to happen in 10 minutes. The candidate is unaware of your open position, the fact that you’re looking for someone just like them, and maybe even about your company. They are oblivious of all your ongoing recruiting efforts and are employed elsewhere, whether happily or not so happily.

While this phase of the journey is a time when the candidate isn’t actively seeking a new opportunity or considering your company, it’s important to remember that they are in many of the same places as your active candidates, such as social networks and professional organizations, but they use those channels in different ways. In those places, they may have met you, seen your company’s postings and ads or even be aware that you’re hiring if the right status update caught their eyes, but they are still unaware because they haven’t made the connection that it might be an opportunity for them.

 Step 2: Aware but disconnected

 If your employer campaign, job posting, employees, or inbox message made an impact on the candidate, they are now aware, though they’re probably still disconnected from the idea of being employed by your company. It’s important to note that it can take some time to go from step one to step two and this usually happens when a person has made a connection with them, they’ve had repeated touch points with your employer brand that created brand recognition, or if you’ve directly reached out and it piqued their interest.

It’s great to even get to this step with someone who may not have known what your company did yesterday and possibly hadn’t considered a career move in quite a while. However, since you’re presenting the idea to them, there won’t be an immediate connection to it. It’ll probably take time, consideration, relationship and lots of answers before they’ll be able to picture themselves at your company and then be connected to that mental image. For that reason, step two is the aware but disconnected stage.

The next four steps that follow take the passive candidate from aware to decision making, but a lot happens in between. In part two, we’ll explore those steps in depth. In the meantime, if you’re ready to start reaching passive candidates, download Talent Objects’ free new e-book on recruiting passive candidates today to see how technology, creativity and strategy are key.