What Percentage Increase Does it Take to Steal A Passive Candidate?

I riffed last week over at The HR Capitalist about the self-reported compensation needs of candidates to accept your offer and leave their current company.  Here’s a taste:

"More than one-third of workers would move for a 16 to 30 percent raise, according to aJerry_m Salary.com survey. Another third would walk for 8 to 15 percent more in the pay envelope. And one in six said it would take a raise of 31 to 50 percent.

I think those numbers ring pretty true.  Here’s how I get my head around it:

1.  The chronically unhappy or those in danger of losing their job will leave for a lateral pay move or a very small bump.  This number is broken out in the above numbers, but based on the other figures, this is about 20% of the average workforce.

2.  Those who are at least somewhat content but open to hearing the message from recruiters?  The bidding starts with the equivalent of a promotional pay bump, which is the 8 to 15% group.  That’s a third of those surveyed…

3.  Those who are happy and content?  They’re still willing to listen, but like the Godfather, you’ll have to make them an offer they can’t refuse – a 16 to 30% bump in pay   (33%) or maybe more than a 30% increase (16% of those surveyed).  So that equals 50% of the workforce.

So, those are the self-reported numbers, and I’m always a little leery of using data from Salary.com.  Still, assuming these numbers are directionally correct, how do the salary offer needs differ for the passive candidate?

After all, we all claim to want the passive candidate, but are we prepared to pay more?

Of course, we all would pay more.  But, I don’t think we would have to in most cases.

Think about the passive candidate.  You dig them out, then engage with a phone call.  The first decision tree for them is whether they pick up the phone or call you back.  The next decision tree is whether they say they are interested or not.  If so, the dance begins, and my take is that they are still going to fit scenario #1, #2 or #3 above.

And that’s where the skill of Tolan, Hogan, McClure, Wolfe, Koberman, Lee or Homula comes in, to figure out which box they are in, the probability to close, and get the deal done.

If the right recruiter skill is involved, they qualify the candidate as being scenario #1 or #2, and move them in the process.  If it’s scenario #3, they make them part of their network and move on to the next candidate.

Good Recruiter = Manageable Passive Candidate Comp Needs. 

It’s called pre-qualifying mixed with selling, and all the great ones do it well.

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Kris Dunn
 Kris Dunn is Chief Human Resources Officer at Kinetix and a blogger at The HR Capitalist and the Founder and Executive Editor of Fistful of Talent. That makes him a career VP of HR, a blogger, a dad and a hoops junkie, the order of which changes based on his mood. Tweet him @kris_dunn. Oh, and in case you hadn't heard the good word, he's also jumped into the RPO game as part owner of a rising shop out of ATL, Kinetix. Not your mama's recruiting process outsourcing, that's for sure... check 'em out.


  1. Jessica Lee says:

    it’s true… that telemarketing sales work i did in high school has come full circle and actually has helped me to close deals with candidates. did i mention that i was one of the youngest, and top producers? too bad i was selling a bunk product. at least now i can confidently stand behind my goods.

  2. cahanson says:

    I’ve been calling #2 the “Married but looking group” or the professional equivalent of…

  3. Hi Kris, we recently released our 16th annual Executive Job Market Intelligence Report and we asked specific questions about this topic. Here’s what we learned:
    — Senior-level execs who are not actively in the market say it would take a 19-percent increase to attract them to a new position.
    — Those who are less satisfied at work and actively seeking change said they would seek an 11.7-percent pay increase as they change jobs.
    — Those in transition say they will accept 7.4 percent
    If you are interested in more, the exec summary can be found here: http://www.execunet.com/talentmarketreport

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