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  • Writer's pictureBen Jackson

Let's talk about ghosting...

Updated: Oct 6, 2022

OK, so we're a bit late for Halloween, but we'd like to talk about ghosting (woooooo…).

In its short life so far, social media has given us plenty of new terms with which to confuse ‘boomers (there’s one…) and generation X-types. From the ubiquitous acronyms (OMG, IMHO, ICYMI, YOLO etc etc) to words and phrases like trolling, ‘bae’, getting owned and ‘on fleek’ (nope, no idea). But the one we are most interested in is ghosting, something which has just as much relevance in the recruitment space as it does on Twitter, Instabook and Facegram.

Ghosting is a situation in which, after having had multiple conversations, one side of the conversation just stops. In recruitment terms, this means that you spend your time filling in applications, completing tests, chasing interview feedback – and then? Nothing.

However, ghosting works both ways. You spend ages nurturing a relationship with a candidate, supporting them through the process, guiding them around salary conversations and… they disappear.

We’ve all had instances in our personal lives where someone we know has gone to ground, or at least has simply cut contact (well, I have…). How do you feel in those situations? Hurt, angry, confused, upset – it’s like a mini-grief cycle. So when a job is at stake, why do we find ourselves acting in this way?

Let’s think about candidates first. In a tough job market (2020…), the number of candidates will outnumber the available positions. So, as great as it is that technology has made the process of applying for jobs quicker and easier, it means that candidates can now fire off loads of applications in a short time. Let’s face it, there is always a temptation to see applying as a numbers game, so job application volumes go up and candidates forget just what they’ve applied for.

And for recruiters, faced with hundreds of candidates for each role, the issue is how you communicate with each person, when – let’s face it – only a few are good enough to get the job, and filling the job is how you are measured (rightly or wrongly).

Maybe this is just one of those things, something we need to get used to and accept. But then again, maybe not.

According to Careerbuilder, 66% of applicants stated that they would cease to be loyal to a company or would stop buying their products if they didn’t hear anything back after an interview, yet in the same survey 60% of applicants said that they had not been contacted by employers after an interview. In total, 80% of job seekers say they wouldn’t reapply to a company that didn’t notify them of their application status. Not great.

And it’s not just about the candidates’ preferences, since ghosting unsuccessful candidates limits your future talent pool, making it harder to recruit. If you take the time to give constructive feedback to candidates, they are four times more likely to consider your company in the future, helping you to build your talent community and long term pipeline.

So how can the experience be made easier for everyone?

Well, a bit of common courtesy goes a long way. In a buoyant market, candidates hold the cards. Let’s face it, even if they ghost you, are you really going to bear a grudge about that in a year’s time when that counter-offer hasn’t worked out and they are keen to explore opportunities with your business again (assuming that you, as a recruiter, haven’t moved on to pastures greener in the meantime)? Well, probably not – you need to fill the job, right – although in fairness I’ve certainly worked with recruiters who remember bad experiences with candidates for a very long time.

But what about the other way round? It is, quite frankly, unacceptable in this day and age to claim that you don’t have time to contact everyone, simply because there is plenty of technology out there that can enable you to keep in touch with candidates, whatever stage of the process they are in, proactively, personally and courteously.

If your recruitment technology isn’t enabling you to manage your employer brand by ensuring you are not ghosting your candidates, you need to make some changes. And more than that, you may have the right tech in place, but not the right process. This, in a nutshell, is how we can help.

We know that recruitment can be difficult for both sides. Applying for jobs is stressful but so is trying to please hundreds of candidates all wanting a quick response and updates on the process. Technology can alleviate a lot of this but it’s still important to humanize the process and make sure the candidate experience is always beautifully optimised.

After all, none of us likes being ghosted, so let’s make 2021 the year we finally allow ghosting to rest in peace.


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