The mystery of the disappearing candidates: ghosting in recruitment

We’re all familiar with the notion of ‘ghosting’ in a social environment. Whether it refers to being cut off (or deleted) after dating someone. Or perhaps you’ve experienced being blocked by a friend with no apparent reason? Either way, ‘ghosting’ has become a (sadly) normal behaviour in day to day life. Only now, it’s not just limited to social relationships. Recruiters are reporting an increase in levels of ghosting from candidates right through the recruitment process.

Recruitment no-show

After investing time and money in searching and finding appropriate candidates, recruiters are finding candidates who simply do not show up for interviews. Or the do not return contact from clients, and may even no-show on their first day of work after accepting a position. Not insignificant behaviour considering the efforts of all parties to reach this stage.

The increase in this type of behaviour is causing marked problems in the industry. Not just the costs associated with continued and duplicate recruitment, but also the reputational costs that can arise from repeated recruitment rounds.

Give us a reason

In some instances these actions are completely outside a recruiter’s control. Some individuals will simply be uncomfortable delivering bad news or saying no. Some may not feel in any way obligated to a firm. Others may simply not be bothered to stay in touch.

Most obviously the rise in recruitment ghosting is founded in the current competitive job market. With an increase in job opportunities, the market is candidate-led. This means that individuals may see ghosting as acceptable behaviour when juggling multiple applications and often multiple job offers. It’s also suggested that in this digital age of recruitment, individuals feel fundamentally less accountable to communicate.

Making moves

With all this in mind, there are some steps companies can take to minimise the frequency of ghosting as well as the impact of it when it does happen.

Tune up your employer branding:                     

In the digital age, candidates are savvy and have access to plenty of research online before they accept a job. This means that spending time brushing up your social media and website presence before a recruitment round will be time well spent. Focus on showcasing the life and culture of the company. What makes you different and interesting to work with? Remember that this is a competition to win the best candidates. Don’t just blend in with every other company and do your best to sell your organisation as a place to work. Take some time to look at yourself from a candidate’s viewpoint, and research as they would. If you discover all isn’t looking as positive as it could be, perhaps there are internal communications and culture-building activities you should be looking at to improve things.

Make sure your communications are stellar:

Excelling at your own communications with candidates makes it more difficult for them to drop you. Make sure you keep in touch regularly. Use clear and relatable language, as well as inviting feedback and questions at all stages. Very importantly, don’t be tempted to ghost a candidate!

When you receive an application, give yourself a swift period to turn it around. In the meantime stay in touch with the candidate to let them know what stage of the process they’re at. Be efficient, establish your criteria and time scale before the recruitment round, and stick to them.   

Waiting is never encouraging for anyone.  Always round out exchanges and draw a line under every case. Make sure you do check with your HR team precisely how this is being managed and worded. Don’t just take it for granted that this is happening.

Emma Murray

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