Have you ever set up an interview with a promising candidate who never showed up? Has a potential new hire quit responding to your emails and phone calls? This behavior is known as ghosting and it’s happening more frequently as the job market strengthens.
In August, 3.6 million people voluntarily quit their jobs in search of better pay, better hours or a better cultural fit. In a market flush with opportunities, candidates have no trouble securing multiple job offers and an increasing number of them don’t bother to communicate when they choose not to accept a job. It’s a disturbing trend, but what can employers do about it?
Why Candidates Get Spooked During the Job Hunt
Demand for qualified talent is at an all-time high, with the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reporting 7.1 million job openings in August. That means candidates have their pick of opportunities, especially those in highly competitive fields like IT and healthcare. Unfortunately, growing numbers of those candidates walk away from interviews and email conversations without a trace – like a ghost. But why?
According to SHRM, the three most common reasons candidates decline a job offer are:
- They accepted an offer from someone else.
- Their expectations about compensation and benefits were not met.
- Their current company made them a better offer.
But declining an offer is a far cry from disappearing without a trace. So why would a candidate blow off an employer without so much as a polite email?
It could be a cultural carryover from social interactions where no response has become a response in itself. It could be a failure to recognize the future ramifications of creating bad blood with a hiring manager. Or it could simply be that candidates don’t know how to say no.
Whatever the reason, it’s a costly trend that needs to be addressed.
Ghostbusting: Engage Candidates Before They Go Silent
Ghosting costs your company time and money you can’t afford to waste. The good news is that the engagement strategies you already use in your workforce can also help you address a ghosting problem. Let’s look at 5 ways to engage candidates before they go silent.
- Personalize the candidate process. Segmenting your audience and developing customized messaging helps you recruit people who are likely to fit both the position and your organization. By targeting the most promising candidates from the beginning, you can reduce the likelihood that they will ghost.
- Communicate early, personally, and frequently. Don’t leave candidates hanging for weeks or months while you make a decision. Instead, establish consistent communication at frequent intervals throughout the recruiting process. Discuss expectations about salary and benefits early so you can determine whether you are heading in the same direction.
- Engage at every stage. Ultimately, ghosting is an engagement problem. The more engaged a candidate is with your company, the less likely they will be to ghost even if they end up taking a job somewhere else. Evaluate your engagement strategies during the application, screening and new hire processes with the goal of building connections with candidates at every stage.
- Watch for warning signs. Even when you make every effort to engage candidates, some will still take the easy way out of an uncomfortable situation by ghosting. Watch for early warning signs like taking too long to respond to emails, hesitating to make a commitment, not returning phone calls and giving vague answers. When you see these signs, set definite expectations for communication and response deadlines before you lose contact.
- Treat candidates with respect. Ghosting is not new. Employers have been doing it for years. Chances are good that you or someone you know has completed an interview and then never heard back from the employer. Don’t be that kind of organization. Treat every candidate with the respect and dignity he or she deserves. Don’t ghost candidates.
Ghosting is not limited to employment situations. It’s a cultural phenomenon, and overcoming it will require a mindset shift on the part of both employers and candidates.
That’s actually great news, because there’s a lot you can do to implement proven engagement strategies in the recruiting process before you become the victim of a ghost.