In the world of online dating, ghosting refers to someone mysteriously disappearing from a relationship without warning. In the context of recruitment, it refers to a party (candidate or hirer) disappearing from the interview process without an expressed reason and according to various surveys, it’s becoming more and more common. Notably, both candidates and hirers are guilty of it.
According to a February 2021 Indeed survey of US employers and job seekers, 76 per cent of employers reported being ghosted by candidates and 77 per cent of candidates reported being ghosted by a prospective employer. Shockingly, 10 per cent reported being ghosted by an employer after a verbal job offer was made.
Common reasons for ghosting among job seekers include receiving a better job offer, being dissatisfied with the salary offered and realising that the job wasn’t the right fit for them.
While these reasons are valid, they are certainly no excuse for mysteriously disappearing from the hiring process. When contacted, instead of dodging communication, candidates should at least inform prospective employers that they’re not interested in the position any longer.
Employers are trying to minimise ghosting by improving their communication throughout the hiring process. Actions such as keeping candidates informed of which stage of the process they’re at and discussing salary earlier seem to help.
Many employers are also starting to blacklist those who exhibit such unprofessional behaviour, ensuring that they aren’t even shortlisted for screening calls the next time they apply.
Just as employers can damage candidates’ reputations, candidates who are ghosted can damage employers’ reputations.
In a survey by CareerBuilder, 42 per cent of workers said they would never seek employment with a company again if they were displeased with the way it handled their applications and another 22 per cent said they would tell others not to work there.
Our recent dipstick survey yielded similar results.
Disgruntled candidates can also easily air their grievances on platforms such as Glassdoor, hurting employers’ chances of attracting top talent.
While employers take measures to protect themselves against unprofessional candidates, they mustn’t forget that they owe candidates professional courtesy as well.
Here’s how you can get started:
RE-EXAMINE YOUR JOB DESCRIPTIONS
It’s no secret that lately, recruiters are finding themselves bombarded by job applications. The first step is to minimise this by making sure job descriptions are specific. Broad definitions and requirements can drastically drive up the volume of applications, many of them unsuitable. If your team is inundated by dozens of unqualified candidates, examine your career pages and job descriptions. Are they vague? Do they over-promise?
SET UP APPROPRIATE AUTOMATED RESPONSES FOR EACH STAGE
A few years ago, expecting employers to respond to each and every application would have been considered a tall order, but today, with automation tools, there’s really no excuse. However, even those with an automated response funnel in place often don’t take care to ensure that their responses are customised for each stage of the process. Get the basics right by ensuring you have at least three types of responses ready.
Stage 1: Acknowledge
The first automated response should be sent when you receive the application. This serves to acknowledge the application. At this stage, many employers opt to say that only shortlisted candidates will be notified. While this enables you to ignore unsuitable candidates, a more thoughtful approach would be to respond to even these candidates.
While they may be unsuitable for this job, it doesn’t mean that they won’t be more than qualified for future open positions. Instead of accompanying your acknowledgement with the dreaded “only shortlisted candidates will be notified” statement, include details about the next steps in the hiring process and specifics about when applicants can expect to hear from you, whether or not they are selected for an interview.
Stage 2: Disqualify
The next step is to notify disqualified candidates. Be transparent with your applicants with a simple message to tell them that they have been deemed unsuitable for the position, but most importantly, use it as an opportunity to thank them for their interest and encourage them to continue their job search.
Knowing that they are no longer part of your recruitment funnel provides candidates with closure. Our interactions with candidates reveal that most are grateful for this as it helps them move on more quickly.
Stage 3: Pipeline
Employers are often quick to discard resumes that do not match the role, but we all know that disqualified candidates could be a great fit for a different position in the future. Employers would do well to add these individuals to their pipeline to tap on when the need arises.
Bearing this in mind, the next step in your communication process is to get in touch with pipelined candidates. While telling them they were not selected for the job they applied for, inform them that you will keep their resume in your talent database in case a future opening better fits their skills and experience. Include links to your social media pages, and career pages or alerts to keep them engaged with your brand.
Creating positive candidate experiences can go a long way towards strengthening your employer brand. This not only helps with recruitment and talent retention, but also burnishes your corporate brand and stakeholders’ perceptions of it.