Blog Post

Why "Ghosting" in Recruiting Needs to Stop

Ira S. Wolfe

President, Success Performance Solutions

After clicking submit on a job application, more than half of applicants sit and wait like abandoned lovers waiting for the phone to ring. Many companies seem to have adopted the foolish practice of "ghosting" when it comes to dealing with job applicants.

What's ghosting you ask? Ghosting is a newly popular term for the practice of disappearing from a relationship and ignoring texts, phone calls and other attempts at making contact. The New York Timesrecently highlighted ghosting in personal relationships, but the phenomenon is happening in professional ones, too.

What's unique about ghosting in recruiting is that many employers are vanishing from the process even before they've met a candidate! Ex-lover's might get away with such antics, but employers will live to regret it.

The candidate experience has gotten so frustrating that many potential employees refer to the online job search as a "black hole," where they submit resumes and applications, never to be seen or heard from again.

When skills are in short supply and positions are increasingly difficult to fill, ghosting in recruiting is, simply put, insane.

Knock, Knock. Anyone Home?

How out of touch are employers? Typically companies blitz customers with discounts and incentives to lure them in. But imagine a business that engages customers like they do candidates: When the customers show up, the business goes dark and employees duck behind the counters.

That scenario might sound far-fetched, but it mirrors the job-seeker experience: 82 percent of employers think that a bad candidate experience has little or no effect on the company, according to a recent Careerbuilder survey. Subsequently, a majority of employers respond to less than half of the candidates who apply.

On the other side, 84 percent of candidates expect a personal email response, and more than half anticipate a phone call. Thanking a potential employee for taking the time to apply for job at your company is a small courtesy. But what many get is a brush-off akin to last night's date sitting by the phone, waiting for the call that never comes.

Like the neglected lover, candidates remember when companies don't respond or keep in touch with them: the same articles shows 58 percent are less likely to buy from a company if they don't get a response and 69 percent shun the company after a bad interview experience.

In a world where disappointed candidates can send their plight viral with a few keystrokes and the click of a button, it's time for employers to stop mimicking the three wise monkeys who don't see, don't hear and don't listen. Here, three solutions to the recruiting "ghosting" phenomenon:

First Impressions Count

The first interaction with a candidate must be interesting, inviting and interactive. Yet a recent study by Dr. John Sullivan and Associates revealed that more than 90 percent of candidates who reach a company career site do not apply! That's a staggering statistic, and one that would not be tolerated in any other function of business. Boring and transactional career pages are a recruitment killer.

Solution: Employment branding is more than a buzzword. It begins with HR giving at least as much attention to the design, content and marketing of talent acquisition as it does to its customer acquisition strategy.

Recruiting Is Sales

When it comes to recruiting, top candidates are probably interviewing with, if not already working for, your competitors. It's a recruiter's job to entice them to apply and then quickly engage them in an experience they don't want to relinquish. That places the keys to a positive candidate experience squarely in the hands of communication.

Solution: From first contact to the job offer (or no offer), the candidate should never be asking or thinking, "What's next?" Develop a process for every possible touch point with a candidate and send updates, whether it's an email, phone call or thank you note. To accomplish this, some of the process must be automated—but don't replace the personal call or email with full automation.

Recruiting Doesn't End With the Job Offer

New employees decide to stay or leave within the first three weeks, according to a study by the Wyndhurst Group. In fact, 22 percent of staff turnover occurs in the first 45 days of employment. But if employees participate in a structured onboarding process, they're 58 percent more likely to be with the organization after three years, according to the study.

Solution: Continual communication means continual—a recruiter's responsibility does not end when an employee signs the job offer and shows up for work on the first day. Onboarding is as much a part of recruitment as prospecting for applicants.

Ghosting is bad for candidates and employers, whereas a positive, responsive candidate experience not only fills open positions, but also benefits the bottom line: 77 percent of employees are willing to accept a salary that is 5 percent lower than their expected offer if the employer created a great impression through the hiring process.

At a time when industry leaders and managers clamor for more qualified skilled workers, it doesn't pay for companies to be invisible and ignore job seekers. Candidates expect more. And they deserve better.

Photo: Shutterstock

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