There's always a lot of talk about active candidates vs passive candidates. Which one has more value, the perception that passive candidates are desired over active candidates, etc.
Realities about the passive vs. active debate:
-We always want what we think we can't have. Thus, someone who actually wants to work for us is thought to be broken in some way versus someone who has no interest. That's deep.
-A lot of active candidates ARE broken in some way - but not all of them are defective. The trick in selling an active candidate to a hiring manager with a snob view is the right spin related to "why are they looking". And the right spin is different with every hiring manager who thinks active candidates are fundamental unattractive.
-The best way to spin an active candidate to a snob hiring manager is to talk about what they are looking for in their next manager - and have that spin line up seamlessly with who that manager thinks he or she is. At that point, you can turn it into a kitten rescue type of effect.
The moral of the story? If you're dealing with a hiring manager who doesn't want to hire anyone who is actively looking, you're going to have to be a marketer when you submit that candidate - and match the stated desires of the active candidate with who the hiring manager thinks they are as a leader of people.
One other thing - candidates who don't direct apply to your position love to be considered "passive" candidates, even though they become active the minute they say they're interested. With that in mind, you ought to start every conversation with a candidate you sourced (they didn't directly apply) by telling them what you are looking for, then asking them who they know who might be a fit.
You didn't ask them if they were interested. That's a compliment to them. But don't worry - if what you're selling is attractive, they'll be happy to tell you.
And they'll be stroked that you considered them a passive referral source as the reason for the call.
Treat talent like passive candidates for best results - both with hiring managers and the candidates themselves.