Candidate Ghosting

· by Lindsay Hunter

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Implementing Effective Communication Strategies to Avoid this Trend

Before we attempt to dive into this hot button issue let’s start by defining the trend.

Ghosting (v): in the recruiting world, this is traditionally defined by a candidate disappearing into thin air after receiving, and sometimes even accepting, an offer of employment. No calls, no emails, no communication of any sort. They let you know they are no longer interested by simply not replying to your attempts at contact.

In this instance, I will use the term ghosting to refer to a candidate’s lack of communication not only at the offer stage, but at any point in the hiring or selection process (interviews, follow-up, offer, start date).

More than ever before, candidates are falling off the map with no communication once entering the hiring process. Whether that be not showing up for an interview, their first day of work, or simply leaving work one day and never showing back up, the occurrence of this seems to be at an all-time high. As someone who works in recruiting, this is a very disturbing trend considering the market is already a tight one. However distressing, this is unfortunately not a new phenomenon, it has simply “changed sides”. In days past it was the recruiters who ghosted candidates by calling about a job and then never following back up.

This begs the question, as recruiters, how do we avoid being ghosted? The trend is so prevalent that it seems impossible to get a handle on it while trying to fill jobs. Here are a few tips for recruiters, and candidates, on how to avoid ghosting in either fashion.

Both parties: Stand your ground

  • If you are ghosted, do not work with that candidate/recruiter again.
  • If you do make contact in the future, be clear about your expectations going forward. Stress that the behavior is not acceptable. Behavior will not change if it continues to go unaddressed.

Recruiters: Be clear and define the process

  • Set the stage by being up front and clear about the process and expectations. If a candidate applies for a job but will only be contacted if they are amongst the most qualified, put that in your job posting, or send an “application received” email that does just that.
  • When you speak with a candidate about a position be able to give them the details regarding the position and the process. Be specific, not vague.
  • Set guidelines for communication and follow-up. If a candidate understands that a lack of communication may result in disqualification for the opportunity, they are more likely to be diligent about following up.

Candidates: Ask questions and get details

  • If the recruiter cannot explain the job expectations to you, or the process, they are likely not working with a decision maker and the likelihood they are able to help you in the long run is slim.
  • Be wary if there are questions they cannot answer, and ask for follow-up. If you do not receive it, find another recruiter.

Recruiters: Make it a priority to follow-up

  • Just because a candidate is not a fit for a particular position after interview or initial assessment, does not always mean they will not be a fit in the future.
  • Let candidates know when they are not selected, and if possible, why. If you are not hearing back from a customer or hiring manager, don’t let that stop you from communicating with your candidate.

Candidates: Know what you need and communicate it

  • Be honest with your recruiter about what you need and other job activity.
  • If you are interviewing with multiple companies, make that known. This helps the recruiter/employer understand the sense of urgency required if they wish to move you forward in the process. It signals them to communicate with you more often about your status.
  • If a recruiter asks you to interview at a time that is difficult, express that concern and ask for a different time. Good employers will work to accommodate your schedule as long as you communicate.

Recruiters: Know your target market

  • Ensure that your selection & hiring process is a fit for the candidate pool you are trying to attract.
  • Simplify your application and onboarding process to ensure a fluid and consistent candidate experience.
  • Ensure that you are communicating in the same way you would expect communication from the future employee. If you wait until the last minute to communicate things and do not make them a priority throughout the process, you can expect the same type of treatment.

Candidates: Be accessible

  • Oftentimes it may appear the recruiter is ghosting you, but in reality, you are repeatedly inaccessible.
  • Be sure your email address is accurate and always provide one. Check your email daily.
  • Set up your voicemail and make sure it is not full. Return phone calls in a timely manner.
  • If you are not going to be available or are no longer seeking opportunities; the employer/recruiter greatly appreciates a simple response letting them know.

Ultimately the point is: don’t burn that bridge. You never know when you might need each other in the future regardless of how this particular job or interaction turns out. Build relationships with your candidates/recruiters; you are more likely to be mutually useful to each other in the long run.

 To all the candidates looking for jobs:

Do you want to stand out? It’s really very simple these days, show up for work, do what you said you would do when you said you would do it, and communicate, communicate, communicate. I cannot speak for all recruiters, but I promise that I will do my best to reciprocate!

To all recruiters trying to fill those jobs:

Respect your candidates by maintaining communication and demand the same respect in return. It’s a tough market out there, but don’t sacrifice your integrity to fill the job.