ghosting may be the talk of the dating world, but job applicants are also disappearing from the recruitment process.
If dating is not an activity you partake in, you are excused for not knowing what “ghosting” means. But if you are a busy employer constantly looking to hire talent, you most likely have been “ghosted” by job applicants. And there is nothing to be ashamed of.
The task of attracting and acquiring talent is very much like dating, so it’s not surprising that the phenomenon of ghosting has crept into the recruiting continuum. Originally a term used to describe a love interest who has gone missing in action or stopped replying to the texts and calls of their suitor without warning, it’s now a very real phenomenon employers face daily. Here’s a typical scenario:
You interview a highly engaged and interested job applicant. He expresses enthusiasm for the role you have, boasts about his qualifications and leads you to believe you have found the right candidate. And then...silence. the individual doesn’t reply to your emails or calls, and you’re left wondering whether it was something you said. This can be both frustrating and confounding since you have no feedback on whether your compensation is too low, your workplace environment too unsavory or your hiring managers are too unconvincing.
With unemployment remaining low in many markets, ghosting is happening more often these days. And not just at the recruitment stage. Employees are increasingly walking off the job never to be heard from again. In fact, the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago last year described the phenomenon in its Beige Book report. A Randstad survey conducted recently in the U.S. found that more than two-thirds of employers have been ghosted, while LinkedIn reported that this practice is gaining traction across the U.S.
Of course ghosted is how many job seekers feel when their applications disappear into the recruitment black box; this has been a complaint among candidates for a very long time. With talent scarcity rising over the past decade, however, the reverse is now becoming more common, as workers and candidates have more employment choices. Their actions – or lack of action, to be precise – may also reflect a frustration with companies who fail to provide an appealing talent experience for their workers.
Some companies have stood up and taken notice. Global businesses such as J&J have created a more transparent process for their applicants. Airbnb provides clear, journey-telling content to its applicants so they understand the entire application process. At Amsterdam-based Booking.com, job seekers can sign up for personalized notifications of job openings.
While a number of companies are stepping up efforts to create a better candidate experience, many are failing to keep up with the expectations of talent. According to the Talent Board, which organizes the CandE candidate experience awards and conducts research on the subject around the world, job seeker resentment has increased 40% in North America since 2016, and a recent survey it conducted showed that 89% of employers have been ghosted at times.
communication is key
So how can companies better cope with the phenomenon of ghosting? It starts with communication, and unfortunately many employers do a poor job of this. From writing an accurate job description to providing a clear picture of their recruiting process to respectfully informing talent they were passed over, hiring organizations need to make sure their target audience is never kept in the dark. This will more likely elicit a reciprocal response from job seekers. If the candidate feels they are respected in the recruitment process, they will return that courtesy in kind.
An employer that sets expectations with better communication will also encourage new hires to voice their concerns and dissatisfaction, leading to higher engagement. Moreover, they are less likely to ghost the employer and walk off the job. If workers feel that they can openly discuss their issues with hiring managers and HR, employers have opportunities to address these problems before it leads to sudden resignations.
Another consideration for avoiding ghosting is to offer disgruntled applicants a channel for lodging their dissatisfaction. Whether you do so with a follow-survey or an in-person call, by extending this courtesy the applicant may be open to providing you feedback. However your organization may want to undertake this task, make sure it is simple, quick and convenient; otherwise you won’t get the participation you hope for.
While ghosting is a clearly an etiquette problem, it can be highly frustrating for recruiters and hiring managers. The tendency for employers is to blame job candidates, but you shouldn’t overlook how your recruitment process may be part to blame. After all, if your applicants aren’t feeling respected during the process, they likely won’t return the courtesy. So make sure you also assess your candidate journey and rectify any gaps in communication and applicant processing.