The Myth of The Passive Job Candidate Exposed

By Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter

I worked as a recruiter for more than 40 years. Many years ago, helped to create the myth of the superiority of the passive job applicant. The myth was created to combat the huge advertising advantage that larger search firms had by inferring that the people they were representing were inferior.

The myth suggests that passive job applicants (meaning someone I recruited who had not applied to a job) were superior to someone who had applied for acover letter | Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter position because active job hunters are the ones who are a failure at their current firm or were cut by a company for inferior performance.

The First Question You Need to Practice Asking

While those points may be true of some, most people who are looking for work were laid off because of economic circumstances, not because of incompetence and, if they are working and looking for work, because they are seeking a better opportunity elsewhere, not because they are losers.

And, if you are someone who found a position by answering an ad, how do you feel hearing that others think less of your qualifications based upon the medium you were located by rather than through an evaluation of your skill and ability relative to others?

In addition, if someone found you and recruited you for a position, but you were actually looking for a job and had your resume on one or two job sites, which one are you? The passive applicant who was recruited (superior) or the active person (inferior)?

So, the next time a recruiter tries that little speech with you, I hope you stand up proudly and tell them that you found your job through an ad (or found the recruiter who referred you to the job through an ad) and put this nonsense away once and for all.


© 2009, 2023 all rights reserved.

7 Common Mistakes Managers Make That Cause Employees to Quit


Jeff Altman, The Big Game HunterJeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter is a coach who worked as a recruiter for what seems like one hundred years. He is hired to provide No BS Career Advice globally. That can involve job search, hiring staff, management, leadership, career transition and advice about resolving workplace issues. Schedule a discovery call at my website,

He is the host of “No BS Job Search Advice Radio,” the #1 podcast in iTunes for job search with over 2500 episodes.

I do a livestream on LinkedIn, and YouTube (on the account) Tuesdays at 1 PM Eastern. You can send your questions about job search, hiring better, management, leadership or to get advice about a workplace issue to me via messaging on LinkedIn or in chat during the approximately 30-minute show.

Website: (schedule a paid coaching session or free discovery call)



Main YouTube:




Video Podcast: Spotify



Resume & LinkedIn Profile critiques

My courses are available on Skillshare

CareerFitter offers a free test and if you want career recommendations, upgrade to the paid version


We grant permission for this post and others to be used on your website as long as a backlink is included to and notice is provided that it is provided by Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter as an author or creator.

About the author

Leave a Comment, Thought, Opinion. Speak like you're speaking with someone you love.

%d bloggers like this: