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26 June 2024

What can recruiters do to combat the phenomenon of ‘ghosting’?

What can recruiters do to combat the phenomenon of ‘ghosting’?

Recruiters & employers are dealing with vanishing candidates with increasing regularity. The problem of ‘ghosting’ is the practice of withdrawing all communication suddenly and without explanation. Unfortunately, not every job applicant has the courtesy to show up to a job interview, or even to call or send a note to say they're no longer going to be there. It's even common for a new hire to not show up for the first day of work after having accepted an offer.

Research from global matching and hiring platform Indeed, has revealed a staggering 86% of UK jobseekers have, without notice, not shown up for a job interview.

The survey of 1,500 businesses and 1,500 working people in the UK has found that ghosting isn’t just a dating phenomenon and has now infiltrated the hiring process, with 3 in 4 workers saying they’ve ghosted in the past year. “It’s clear that ghosting has become an unwelcome phenomenon for employers, and is having an impact on the time, productivity and wellbeing of hiring teams,” says Danny Stacy, UK Head of Talent Intelligence at the global matching and hiring platform Indeed.

With over 900,000 job vacancies in the UK, it’s clear that ghosting is slowing down already busy hiring teams. It’s also having an impact on wellbeing, with more than one in two businesses (55%) saying it’s increased stress for hiring teams and 48% agree ghosting also increases burnout. So, what can recruiters do, if anything, to reduce ghosting and promote better communication from candidates?

Ghosting: the true cost of non-communication

The occurrence of ghosting is a two-way street: the offence can be committed by recruiters a well as candidates, leading to costs for all parties:

  • Tarnished Reputations: Companies that ghost candidates risk developing a negative reputation that deters top talent.
  • Lost Opportunities: When you fail to communicate, you might miss out on fantastic candidates who accept other offers.
  • Wasted Resources: The time and effort put into screening and interviewing are wasted when communication breaks down.
  • Legal Risks (in some cases): Ghosting after a formal job offer can potentially have legal consequences.
  • Missed Feedback: Missing out on negative feedback is dangerous and doesn’t allow you to the opportunity to improve your hiring process.
  • Candidates: Another drawback is potentially damaging your professional reputation. The world is smaller than we think, and word can spread quickly in hiring networks, geographic areas and industries. Ghosting a potential employer may negatively impact future job opportunities.

If, as an employer or recruiter, your reputation is for slow correspondence and poor-quality communication with candidates, your candidates in future will invariably respond in kind. But it doesn’t have to be this way.

The solution to ghosting

Of course, there can be many reasons for a candidate to ghost; a change in financial situation; issues at home; a loss of interest in a role or even the pace of the job market. However, it’s up to employers to create the most positive candidate experience possible to minimise the impact of these other factors and make it easy for applicants to communicate during any art of the journey. It can be daunting and even challenging to respond in a timely fashion to all potential candidates; however, being one of the few to give each applicant the time of day will differentiate your business in the long run.

By prioritising the candidate experience, employers can ensure they keep applicants updated and invested in the interview process – particularly in those industries that require quite lengthy and laborious background checks and vetting, such as education, financial services or healthcare.  Candidates: If you’re not intending to go further with a job application, it’s a good idea to let the recruiter know as soon as possible. This will avoid difficult conversations further down the line, and prevent you receiving a lot of wasted chasing calls, emails and texts should they ant to take you application further.

How can we change course? Here’s what 2024 demands:

  • Use technology as a tool, not a crutch: Use applicant tracking systems and communication platforms to streamline processes, but maintain a personal touch.
  • Be Honest from the Get-Go: Set realistic timelines for feedback and provide regular updates, even if things are in a state of flux.
  • Respectful Rejections: A well-crafted “no, thank you” email with some constructive feedback is far superior to silence.
  • Empathy Matters: Put yourself in the candidate’s shoes. Acknowledge their anxieties and demonstrate genuine interest.
  • Track Your Communication: Gather feedback and analyse your processes to identify where improvements can be made.

Work beyond technology: The Power of Personalisation

While technology streamlines processes, it's no substitute for personalised attention:

  • Tailored Updates: Generic automated messages won't cut it. Customise updates where possible to show candidates you value them.
  • Interview Feedback: Even brief, personalized feedback after interviews creates a lasting positive impression.
  • The Human Touch: Offer a designated point of contact for questions, demonstrating investment in the candidate.

Candidate Ghosting: When Silence IS an Answer.

Sometimes, it's important to acknowledge that candidate ghosting can signal a lack of interest:

  • Decoding Disengagement: If a candidate goes silent after initially being responsive, it's okay to shift focus to other applicants.
  • Respecting Your Time: Don't over-invest in candidates who don't reciprocate. A reasonable timeline for follow-up is fair.
  • Focusing on Mutual Fit: Don't take ghosting personally. Focus your efforts on candidates who demonstrate genuine interest in the opportunity.

Job titles can often entail very different functions, depending on the company and the specific niche it falls under. If the job description and the responsibilities of the role the candidate is applying for are not clear, then the position will slip into an abyss of ghosting vulnerability. The solution is to write memorable job descriptions with clear responsibilities and defined outcomes.

A good job description must not only specify the exact business needs associated with the role, but also the daily tasks, and the type of background and personality that would best fit the position, and if applicable, the team.

Also, keep in mind that candidates often apply to multiple jobs when they are considering a new job. If your dream candidate applied to other positions more recently than yours, it is likely that these are at the forefront of their mind. Therefore, it's important that you continue selling your jobs with nuggets of interesting information about your company and the job.

If your struggling with candidates ghosting, call our commercial recruitment teams:

  • Crewe: 01270 589943
  • Stoke: 01782 712230
  • Telford: 01952 797577
  • Warrington 01925 637871
  • Wigan: 01942 597215