How Ghosting Affects Employee Recruitment
Have you ever gone on a job interview and then heard nothing from the recruiter or hiring manager even after you’ve sent emails or left voicemails? This is called ghosting and while the term originated in personal relationships (you go on a date and then never hear from him again), it occurs in hiring all of the time.
For many years, ghosting was something recruiters and hiring managers have done to job candidates. When the unemployment rate was high, they didn’t see a downside to ghosting: new, qualified candidates were easy to find, recruit, and hire.
The Effect of Ghosting Prospective Employees
In 2018, though, the unemployment rate is lower than it’s been in a long time, and candidates and employees have turned the tables on employers. Chip Cutter, the managing editor at LinkedIn, noted that candidates are not returning calls from recruiters and people have started simply not showing up for work rather than giving two weeks’ notice.
Turnabout is fair play, after all. Why should candidates treat recruiters and hiring managers with respect when they haven’t been treated with respect for years? Well, employers and candidates should always treat each other respectfully.
Many recruiters are learning the hard way that their years of assuming that candidates would always be available are over and that job seekers now have the upper hand. But other than this “revenge,” how does ghosting affect employee recruitment?
Recruiters As Public Relations Specialists
This may seem ridiculous—recruiters don't talk to the press after all, and they don’t try to get magazine articles written about the company, so why do they need to worry about public relations?
Think about it. With whom do recruiters spend a good portion of their time talking? Non-employees, right? And most of those people will never become employees. That’s just the nature for recruiting.
If you ghost candidates and treat them poorly, they will speak to their friends, and you will lose out on future candidates and future clients. You fret about customer service roles, but ignore the impact a ghosting recruiter can have on the company’s growth. A bad reputation is a bad reputation—once gained, a bad reputation with prospective employees is difficult to overcome.
Shrinking Pipeline for Job Applicants
Everyone who applies for a job believes that they are, in some way, qualified for that job. Sometimes, this stretches the imagination, as people send in their resumes to job postings with one matching keyword. But often, candidates are good matches. And everyone who comes in for an interview is a good enough match, right?
You certainly don’t hire everyone you interview, but that doesn’t mean all of those people are bad fits for your company forever. Many of them would be great fits for a different position or even the same position in a couple of years. A good recruiter doesn’t just post ads, she learns the people in the industry and keeps a pipeline running so that when a job opens, she can fill it quickly.
If you treat prospective employees poorly, you’ve essentially kicked them out of the candidate pipeline. Sure, you can contact them 18 months from now, but they will remember that they came in for three different rounds of interviews and then never heard back—as a recruiter, you ghosted them. Who wants to put themselves through that again?
Internal Referrals Decrease
One of the best sources for job candidates is your current employees. They are experts in their fields and they tend to know other people who do what they do. But, if they refer their friends and colleagues, who then take the time to come in to interview, and then never hear from you again, they tell your current employees about what you’ve done.
Your employees don’t plan to work for your company forever. They need to maintain their reputation in their field. They won’t ruin it by bringing in people who then receive poor treatment. Instead, they’ll quietly stop recommending people for positions within the company.
Why Ghosting Happens
No one has the time. Every employee is busy. But, treating candidates politely and getting back to those who have interviewed is the right thing to do, and it will save you time in the long run. You’ll increase your positive reputation, build your prospective employee pipeline, and receive referrals from current employees.
Not having those things will cost you far more time than having your ATS send out emails to all candidates saying, “Thank you so much for interviewing, however, we’ve decided to go in a different direction. Please do keep us in mind for roles for which you qualify in the future.”
Treat people with respect and professionalism because it’s the moral and ethical behavior to exhibit. And it doesn’t hurt that your business will also benefit from prospective employees flocking to your door. At the same time, you will retain and nurture your current employees who feel as if you treated them and their contacts respectfully.
Suzanne Lucas is a freelance writer who spent 10 years in corporate human resources, where she hired, fired, managed the numbers, and double-checked with the lawyers.