Much has been written about the similarities between the world of dating and the job market –– from the necessity of “wooing” candidates to the importance of open communication. Unfortunately, the most recent crossover trend is more insidious: the practice of “ghosting”.
Over the last several years, multiple industries have reported higher numbers of candidates who are quitting their jobs by simply not showing up to work, or dropping out of the interview process by not attending scheduled interviews or returning phone calls. These incidents have occurred at every organizational level, with candidates from different generations, and in many different geographical regions.
So what are the short- and long-term consequences of ghosting for both candidates and employers, and how can companies prevent their candidates from pulling a disappearing act?
Market Correction is Coming
One possible reason for candidates engaging in this type of behavior is that in the market today, they wield most of the power. If a candidate opts to accept a counter offer or decline an interview, it may be appealing to skip the potentially awkward conversation with their would-be employer. And because of the strength of the market, there may not be immediate consequences of that decision for the candidate. However, the reality is that this market condition is not permanent, and when it corrects, candidates who have ghosted prospective employers may find themselves back on the job market with a damaged reputation.
It’s critical to be respectful at every stage of a job search, not only to protect relationships with employers in the market in case of future needs, but because it’s the right thing to do. Remember that the further along in the interview process you are, the more time and money you will cost a company by simply disappearing. If it’s not right the time for a job change or if a better offer came in, there is no need to burn bridges. Explain the situation, refer any qualified candidates you may know, and wish the company the best of luck in their search. If you ever find yourself ready for a career move again, that employer will remember you as a responsible, respectful candidate and may reconsider you for any openings they have.
Employers Ghost Too
Candidates are not the only ones who sometimes vanish during the hiring process. In fact, many job seekers have experiences with companies who have neglected to respond to job applications or return candidates’ phone calls. The hiring process can be hectic for a company, but unintentional ghosting like this damages relationships with qualified candidates and can cause those candidates to believe that disappearing without a trace is normal market behavior. Keep yourself organized during the hiring process. Let every candidate know when you’ve received their application, as well as when you’ve made a hiring decision. A quick email or phone call to let them know you appreciate their interest in your company can make a world of difference to a job-seeker and can set you apart from the companies who fall short in this area. The more respected and valued a job applicant feels, the less likely they will be to ghost you later in the process.
Communication is Key
The best way to prevent candidates from ghosting you is to make your expectations very clear from the beginning of the process. Let candidates know when you will have a decision and what information you need from them to speed up the process. Make sure they understand that they are welcome to come to you with questions or concerns, or if their circumstances change. Touch base to let a candidate know if they are no longer being considered, or reach out a minimum of once per week to reaffirm your interest in and excitement about them. If you keep the lines of communication open and make timely hiring decisions, you can significantly reduce the chances that your company will be haunted by ghosting.