Women need to become more active passive candidates

by Sep 3, 2015


Why you should talk to head hunters even if you are not looking for a job!

3Plus carries out executive searches for companies who want gender balanced short lists. They want to be able to discuss their opportunities with women. This might just be about box ticking or meeting KPIs  – it doesn’t matter. The important thing is to be invited to the table. 3Plus has a massive global network of ambitious women we can reach out to. But sometimes in specialist searches we have to contact what is known in the search business as “passive candidates.”  These are women who are not actively looking for a job.

Passive candidates

Most passive candidates are happy to hear from me. I am highly visible and it’s easy to check out my credentials. If on the rare occasion they are not, I thank them for their time and invite them to stay in touch. Most are super accommodating and know well that the next call they get from me could be the opportunity of a life time. Those that aren’t – I remember! First impressions really do count.

However, I sadly report that women tend to be less willing to engage in the process than men in similar situations.

There are a number of reasons for this. Many aren’t on the job market, some lack confidence, others simply don’t bother to read the mail. But responding to head hunters or recruiters is really important. [Tweet “Even if candidates are not looking for a job, this is a networking opportunity.”]

Why a polite two-minute networking conversation is so important

Even if you are not active on the job market it is always useful being open towards approach calls. I can understand multiple calls can become intrusive – but simply changing contact settings on LinkedIn will deter all but the most crassly insensitive.

With more than 80% of openings especially at a senior level being filled from what has become known as ”the hidden job market”, the motivation for individuals to make themselves highly visible to search professionals or directly in contact with them, should be seriously compelling.

Want help with your gender balanced short lists? Contact us!

A good recruiter or search consultant will help you stay in touch with the job market and will contact you for any matching opportunities. This is not just about you! This is also the best way he can serve his client. It is why it is always useful to send a strongly key worded resume to a head hunter, even if there is no interest at that particular moment, because the company will upload it onto their data base for future reference.

All women should also have strong LinkedIn profiles. Just as importantly make sure your profile is always up to date. This allows you to appear in any appropriate searches and facilitates contact when a potential opportunity arises in the future, even if it’s years later.

Any decent search consultant will also ask you for a referral. This is your opportunity to pay it forward and develop a reputation as a sector source.


Some women have also expressed concern about being openly connected to search professionals in this way, fearing it may be seen as a sign of instability or disloyalty to their existing employer. Truthfully, as companies have laid off millions in the past 8 years and job creation is slow at picking up, the concept of loyalty is being constantly redefined.

My own view that not to work with reputable professionals or specialists is simply short-sighted.

It will be these very same people who at the first sign of a problem begin to panic and complain about recruiters not making time for them and the lack of opportunities. Search consultants work for their clients, not you. [Tweet “The best time to cultivate them is when they call you. “]

Strategic on-going wide networking and raising visibility in this day and age should no longer be the preserve of the dynamic go-getter, but imperative for everyone. As we know, there is great strength in a weak network!

Dorothy Dalton Administrator
Dorothy Dalton is CEO of 3Plus International. A specialist in diversity and bias conscious executive search, she supports organizations to achieve business success via gender balance, diversity and inclusion. She is CIPD qualified, and a certified coach and trainer including digital learning.
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