I’ve been spending a lot  of time recently talking to people who don’t appear to be massively active in the social channels, but who I know are in the job market. I was interested in why they were job hunting but apparently not connecting, and I got some interesting answers back that have made me dig a bit deeper.

At the same time I have been looking at an increasing number of posts talking about the importance of engagement, about how candidates want to connect and join talent communities in the hope of one day being hired. I’ve read the LinkedIn experts talking about why you should be joining LinkedIn groups and joining in discussions if you want to get noticed. The message has been clear, engage, engage, engage.

On the whole I agree with what is being said. I understand the benefit of engaging with candidates, there are plenty of people who are looking to connect and engage with organisations, but there is also a big passive audience who just want to observe, watch and wait for opportunities. The conversations I have been having are around this point. They want to see the content and plenty of it. They want to be able to sign up to talent networks and get relevent notifications of opportunities as they come up, what they don’t want to be doing is engaging and talking to recruiters until they are in the application process.

There are a number of reasons for this, the biggest one being a fear of being found out or noticed. A feeling of job insecurity is rife in this uncertain economy, so the fear is that if I start talking to recruiters in public places, joining in chats and the like then the alarm bells might just start ringing with their employers. They also don’t want to be joining talent communities or forums where other members from the same industry might just take their participation as a sign of itchy feet, whilst others say that they just don’t know what to say or how to engage.

There are also those who don’t naturally engage. In any social network, community, network or group, it’s rarely more than 5% of the members who generate content. The percentage of people who actively watch is harder to measure, but I’m sure it is considerably bigger, as well as those who connect or follow then forget about it.

My reasoning behind this post is NOT to say that you should not have a strategy of offering engagement. I’m still convinced that all employers should be creating places and opportunities to connect and engage with potential employees. The elephant in the room though is that large section of  potential employees who for whatever reason don’t want to be engaging. Social recruiting is not all about engagement, whatever might be said elsewhere. Theres a big audience who want to watch and quietly apply, and you need to make sure that your recruiting strategy is inclusive for everyone.