The term passive job search refers to an individual that is currently employed and is willing to learn about new career opportunities. An individual that is passively job searching does not actively seek out or apply to job openings.
Also known as a passive job seeker, a passive job search occurs when an individual is employed, but is willing to learn about opportunities elsewhere. These individuals are not actively looking for new employment prospects, filling out applications, or sending their resumes to employers.
Ironically, passive job seekers have a number of advantages over active job seekers. Since they're employed, they continue to gain new knowledge. They're also likely to have a much larger network of contacts, since they're surrounded by other individuals in their workplace. This allows passive job seekers to have a relatively large network of connections, as demonstrated by their profiles on career related websites such as LinkedIn.
Passive job seekers can also afford to be more selective when approached by a recruiter. Since they already have a source of household income, they can afford to assess whether or not a move to another company aligns with their ideal career path. Unfortunately, unemployed individuals may also be stereotyped as lacking initiative or a poor performer.