Active vs. Monitoring: understanding candidate behaviour is key to your talent sourcing needs


Active or monitoring? There’s currently a lot of noise in the recruitment space around the idea of active versus monitoring candidates.

The argument usually revolves around whether it is more effective for hirers and beneficial for companies to source active or monitoring talents. And while passive candidates also usually come into play during these type of arguments, hirers tend to focus more in discussing the potential that there is in engaging active and monitoring candidates.

Should hirers exert effort in attracting both types of candidates or are they better off focusing on just one of them?

Defining active and monitoring candidates

Active candidates are the ones actively and openly looking for a new job. These candidates are either presently unemployed or are simply looking for an alternative to their current job. They are the ones that browse job boards, respond to job ads, and send their application to hirers.

Further along the spectrum are monitoring candidates. These candidates are currently employed and are not looking for new job. Unlike active candidates, they do not actively or openly browse job boards or send out their resumes to hirers but they continue to keep their eye out for new opportunities.

While active and monitoring candidates seems almost the total opposite of each other, the differences between these two types of candidates are less pronounced if you are going to look at their job hunting behaviour. In today’s job market, the job search process for candidates is constantly “on”. Candidates, monitoring or active, continue to keep their eye out for new opportunities.

Active candidates are more or less overt about their job hunting activities. For the most part, monitoring candidates remain inconspicuous and discreet. But that doesn’t mean that they are unwilling to make a move when the right opportunity presents itself.

The rise of the mobile jobseeker

The growth in mobile job applications is one of the key trends that are fundamentally reshaping the talent sourcing landscape.

Mobile visits now account for a great percentage of the overall traffic on website indicates that the use of mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets has now surpassed the use of notebook and desktops when applying for a job.

Mobility plays a key role in changing the job market. Not only do hirers become more visible and accessible but it also is gradually changing candidate behaviour.

The promise of mobile technology as a whole is to allow people to access information at anytime, wherever they are. Now, with job portals becoming more mobile-friendly and with the rise of a whole new range of job search apps, candidates can now look for jobs anywhere and anytime.

Mobility affects candidate behaviour in a more profound way than what was recently thought. Being able to apply for jobs using a mobile device means that both active and monitoring candidates can now take their job search with them and search for new career opportunities whenever it’s convenient.

Candidates want to take their job search with them regardless if they are active or monitoring.

While this presents a whole new range of challenges for companies looking for top talent, mobility provides an unprecedented opportunity for hirers to reach the emerging breed of mobile jobseekers.

Who you hire depends on your needs

Active candidates remain as the most reliable source of recruits for companies and hirers. It is from the huge number of active candidates that most positions are filled.

Hirers have traditionally engaged and pursued active candidates. Not only are they easier to find and attract but they are also deemed as more enthusiastic and motivated.

Companies who are looking into a speedy way of filling in positions or those who are trying to hire several employees at a time will find job advertisements as they best way to go.

For some hirers, however, the best candidates aren’t the ones actively searching for a job.

Though they are more difficult to hire, monitoring candidates are perceived as more attractive due to existing stereotypes. Not only is being employed an advantage but they are seen as more skilled and experienced compared to their active counterpart.

The rise of specialized job functions (i.e. cross-platform mobile developer, PPC specialist, drone operator), the increasing need of niche skills (i.e. Ruby on Rails, Facebook Ads Manager, problem-based learning) and the desire for companies to edge out their competitors has made the recruitment of monitoring candidates a vital part of anyone’s talent acquisition strategy.

In the past, companies have attracted monitoring candidates through various means like referral programs, and through headhunters. But even then, they are only able to tap into a sparse number of passive candidates. It is only in the recent years that a number specialized online services enabled hirers to directly interact with passive candidates.


Active or passive – who makes the best hire is still subject to argument.

What remains certain is that in order to remain competitive, hirers need to go beyond common recruitment practices to find the most relevant candidates. Companies and organizations as well as the hirers that act in their behalf should put a lot of hard work in identifying what kind of candidate they should engage to help them grow their business.

Further reading:

Use behavioural-based questions to spot the best talent

Hiring Top Talents through Referral

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