Are You Ghosting Job Candidates by Keeping Them in the Dark?

The term “ghosting” is rooted in the dating world, but it is now also a term used in reference to the recruitment and hiring process. Simply stated, ghosting is when a recruiter or hiring manager cuts off communication with the job applicant at some point between job application submission and the first day of work after a job offer. It is discouraging for the person who has spent a lot of time preparing a resume, filling out a job application, interviewing and completing a pre-hire assessment and job simulation. The result is that employers that ghost candidates are losing some of the best job candidates for their organization.

Silence is Definitely Not Golden

Ghosting can happen anywhere in the job application and interview process. Employers might not acknowledge receipt of an application, fail to get back with someone after the pre-hire assessment and/or interview is completed or stop communicating after making a verbal job offer. These events happen regularly.

Silence is not golden in these situations. Qualified job candidates will try to communicate with a company only so many times and will eventually give up. Sometimes, businesses adopt the attitude they are doing people a favor just by considering them in the first place. This attitude will negatively impact the talent management process, whether or not there is an abundance of job candidates, but even more so in a tight labor market.

The consequences of ghosting job applicants can hurt your company in a number of ways:

  • Job candidates go online and post negative reviews of your business in several social media accounts, hurting the company’s reputation as an employer of choice
  • Trust between the job applicant and the employer is destroyed, even if the employer eventually contacts the applicant
  • A workplace culture is projected as one that does not promote respect for people’s time or talents
  • Once word spreads online or verbally in the marketplace that your company ghosts job applicants, the pipeline for applicants will likely shrink
  • Current employees and people in external networks will be increasingly hesitant to make referrals
  • The best job candidates will quickly find employment with another company
  • Employers with a reputation for ghosting will likely be ghosted by a growing number of job candidates

The unemployment rate for the country as of October 2019 was 3.6 percent, but some industries face more competition for qualified employees than others. The number of contact center employees in the U.S. has trended upward over the last five years, reaching 2.87 million people by the end of 2018. The contact center turnover rate per one study is estimated at 30-45 percent or more than double the average for all other U.S. occupations. Given these numbers, ghosting job applicants is a damaging practice.

Standardize the Communication Schedule

Ghosting should never happen, and in a tight job market it can lead to critical positions remaining unfilled or positions being filled out of desperation with people who may not be the best fit. Job candidates who apply for a job need to know what is happening.

Establishing a communication process with standards for follow-up with job applicants from recruitment to the first day of work is a key strategy for ending ghosting.

It helps to create a sense of obligation in the job candidate and increases engagement with the job candidate.

Your recruitment and interview processes should include a communication schedule for follow-up with job applicants, and recruiters, and hiring managers should be held accountable for adhering to the schedule. Documentation of follow-up efforts is crucial, and data collection and talent analytics can quickly pinpoint the people in your organization who are ghosting. For example, a hiring manager regularly administers pre-hire assessments but cannot seem to fill positions. Ghosting could be one reason.

Where is the Respect?

Every job candidate needs to know where he or she stands in the hiring process. How your company treats people external to the company is crucial to protecting the brand’s reputation as an employer of choice. It also can lead to job candidates telling other people to not purchase your company’s products or services. As you know, social media is a powerful networking tool that people weaponize when upset with a company. Of course, the entire process, from recruiting to hiring decision, should be professional.

The recruitment, assessment and hiring process must give job candidates a feeling they are respected, and their time is appreciated. It does not mean the person is ideal for the job. That is what pre-hire assessments and simulations and in-person interviews can determine. Even if a job candidate is not someone you want to hire, it is important to give them a high quality candidate experience. That person may even refer other people despite not being hired, if they have a positive experience. A positive experience includes explaining why the person is not a good fit for the job or the workplace culture.

Ghosting in Reverse

By the way, job candidates ghost employers too. In fact, one Indeed study found that 76% of employers had been ghosted by job applicants. Ghosting has gained speed over the last couple of years. Similar to ghosting by employers, employee ghosting is occurring at various points in the hiring process, from failing to attend a job interview to accepting a job offer and not showing up for work the first day.

Sometimes, job applicants just stop responding to the employer’s calls and emails. The reasons vary, of course. For example, a ghosting candidate accepts a job with a different company or decides after completing a job simulation that the job is not a good fit. Maybe the potential employee felt the interview went poorly. In the Indeed study, 26 percent of people in the survey said they were not comfortable telling the employer they did not want the job, and 13 percent said communication problems with the recruiter was the reason they ghosted.

Shed Some Light on the Process

The talent recruitment and hiring process should be transparent, honest and respectful at every step. Do not keep job candidates in the dark during the hiring process. It could cost you the best job candidates, and few companies can afford to lose them.

Harver Team

Harver Team

Updated on:
June 6, 2023

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