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Why Candidates “Ghost” and What To Do About It

March 10, 2022 | By Linda Pophal

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Ghosting is on the rise for a wide range of reasons — from hiring processes that go on too long, to candidates not getting a good vibe from the company, to past experiences of being ghosted themselves by employers. A lot of time and effort is put into the talent acquisition process; that time and effort (which equals money) can be wasted when top candidates drop out midstream—or, in some cases, even after an offer has been made.

An Indeed survey revealed that a shocking 83% of employers had been ghosted by job candidates—some even after the point of hire! The pandemic may have impacted those numbers even more in the midst of what is being called the “great resignation” as employees are becoming increasingly choosey about the types of jobs—or companies—they want to be associated with.

Here’s a look at some of the things you can do to reduce the chance that your next top candidate will ghost you during the hiring or onboarding process.

Speed Up Time to Hire

Chances are when you’re interviewing an employee, that employee is also interviewing with other potential employers. The employer that can make the first competitive offer is likely to land the candidate.

A long, or slow, hiring process is one of the biggest causes of employee ghosting. If it takes too long to go through each step of the process—from application review, to setting up the first interview, to setting up the next interview, to background checks, and an offer—chances increase that the employee may receive an offer from someone else.

When they do, they’re on to better things and not likely to circle back with you.

Keep Communication Flowing

Maintaining ongoing contact with applicants is an important best practice to keep them engaged and help them understand that, yes, you are still interested in them as a candidate. Communication can be through video calls, phone, email—even text these days. Communication can even be automated through talent management systems (TMS) to ensure that potential employees are being kept in the loop.

It’s important to send a strong signal to candidates that they’re important to you. You can do that through ongoing communication to keep them informed of the process, next steps, and timeline. Respect their time. Keep them engaged and make it easy for them to interact with you and submit whatever information you may require.

When communication lags, it increases the risk that a potential employee will simply give up and, ultimately, stop responding.

Convey a Positive Culture

Potential employees report that one of the reasons they’re likely to ghost a potential employer is if they get a bad feeling about the culture.

This can occur because of things that the employer, or recruiter, does—coming across as negative, demanding, or even disrespectful—as well as things they don’t do, like failing to communicate effectively, failing to respect the candidate’s time, etc.

But company culture is also conveyed in other ways—through Glassdoor reviews and word-of-mouth from existing or former employers. It’s important for organizations to manage their online reputation by continually reviewing—and, as appropriate, responding to—Glassdoor reviews, monitoring social media, and conducting surveys or quick polls of current employees to determine whether they have a positive impression of the company that they’re likely to share with others.

A net promoter survey—simply asking employees “would you recommend” our company as a great place to work—can be a quick and effective way to monitor this sentiment. Offer a scale of 1-10, with 10 being high, and track progress over time. Take action if the score begins to dip.

Have a Positive and Engaging Onboarding Experience

Onboarding should be considered part of the talent acquisition process and be given the same attention to detail and focus on communication you used during the hiring process to keep applicants engaged, informed—and to positively introduce them to the company culture.

Yes, some employees do ghost even after they’ve made it to this point! Take a look at your onboarding process with a critical eye to make sure it’s doing a good job of welcoming employees, acclimating them to the company and culture, and setting the stage for a long and positive relationship.

Don’t Be a Ghoster Yourself!

Employers ghost potential employees, too, and that can leave a bad taste in their mouths and send a signal that ghosting is okay, and an expected element of the job search process. It’s a common occurrence according to an Indeed survey, reported in Harvard Business Review indicated that “a majority of job seekers (77%) said they’ve been ghosted by a prospective employer since the U.S. onset of the pandemic.”

Hopefully, your company isn’t contributing to the 77% number.

The Upside of Ghosting

There’s an upside of ghosting for employers that can take steps to streamline the process, stay in contact with applicants, and create a strong culture that generates positive word-of-mouth and online reviews. The upside is that you’re more likely to be the organization making the first offer—and the organization with the best employer brand reputation.

It’s a competitive hiring environment and likely to remain competitive for some time. Take steps now to create a hiring process that makes your company “unghostable.”

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