Article Published on 02-03-2020

The differences between non-job seekers and passive job seekers

As a recruiter, you are on the lookout for people looking for a job. So it is easy to overlook the fact that the vast majority of the working population is not looking for another job at all. Although part of that group is open to the idea. A look at the data of our Labour Market Behaviour Survey (AGO) provides some more insight into the passive job seekers and the people who are not looking for a (different) job at all.

Sourcing pressure

No less than 88% of the respondents in the AGO said they were not actively looking for a job. Of these 88%, 48% are passively looking for work: they are not really looking, but they do keep an eye on the labour market. This group is approached more often for a job (35% at least once a quarter) than the group that is not looking (22%). In other words, the sourcing pressure on the first group is clearly higher.

How do they differ?

We are obviously very curious to know whether there are any other differences between these groups and with the Dutch Labour Force (DLF) as a whole. As far as gender is concerned: hardly. The male/female ratio is almost equal in all groups. The passive job seekers are, on average, somewhat higher educated than the group that is not looking for work. They are also a lot younger on average. Of those not looking for a new job at all, 36% are older than 50 compared to 24% of passive job seekers and the DLF. Education and the sector in which they work appear to be of little distinction for these groups, also in comparison with the DLF. The group not looking for a job is more likely than average to have a permanent contract (77% vs. 71%), the passive job seekers a bit less (68%). Among them are relatively many people with temporary contracts or zero-hour contracts.

How do they search?

We are, of course, talking about a group that is not looking for another job. However, if they were looking for a job, what channels would they use? There are hardly any differences between passive job seekers and the DLF. Social media are more popular than average with this group, while people who are not looking for a job at all would actually use them less than average. The non-job seekers are at or below average for almost all channels, only scoring slightly higher for internal vacancies. In particular, they score significantly lower on everything to do with ‘online’, but they are also less likely to search via their own network. It seems obvious that there is a connection with average age.

Job search channelsDLFNon-job seekersPassive job seekers
Company websites16%14%18%
Visiting/calling a company14%13%14%
Uploading CV in database of a job site26%22%27%
Ensuring I can be found online by employers/agencies19%16%21%
Internal vacancies22%23%23%
Open job application32%32%32%
Social media33%27%37%
Job application apps12%10%13%
Employment agency23%23%22%
Job sites57%51%59%
Recruitment and selection agency (approaching a headhunter)10%9%11%
Search engine24%20%25%


Source: Intelligence Group, 2019

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