The job market keeps getting weirder. Employers and hiring managers are now, more than ever, reporting ‘ghosting’ as the new normal.
What do we mean? In popular street slang, being ‘ghosted’ in a relationship means never hearing from him/her again. Texts, calls, and emails go unanswered. The other party becomes a ‘ghost.’ Even though you may have had a couple of dates, one person goes radio silent.
It’s now happening in the job market too. Candidates get several steps into the hiring process, then disappear. Never to be heard from again. They ghost you.
The Root Cause
Try as you might to understand the phenomenon, you’ll never get a good answer. Don’t waste sleep over it. Experienced recruiters and placement executives are telling me “We’ve learned to do what they just did. If I have a candidate ghost me, I do it right back. Their resume goes in the file, never to be viewed again.” That means no follow-up and definitely no chasing.
Just chalk it up to pop culture moving us one step further down the road, away from old customs and norms. As soon as you start griping, complaining, and losing sleep over it, the ghost has won. So stop that. Move the heck on.
Think About It
If someone ghosts you, why would you want to chase them? They already told you something big. They’re no longer interested in the relationship. Whether it is about trust, taste, or choice, they’re done. Give it up. You have better use of time to move on.
On the other hand, if your hiring process moves too slow, maybe you got ghosted for good reason. The market is HOT. If you find a good candidate that looks like a good fit, you have to be ready to move quickly. Get your ducks lined up sooner rather than later.
Hiring by committee creates too much delay. Even if you like a panel interview process, make the decision the same day the interview is over. Better still, have a process to accumulate the ‘votes’ during the day while the interviews are wrapping up. Be ready to decide go or no-go right there.
Then let the candidate know right away.
The latest reports tell us there are over 550,000 high-tech, high-paying jobs unfilled. Companies are fighting for the scarce candidates out there.
Some recent college grads are winning 6-figure jobs, just to fill the slots. Jobs that formerly started at $45k to $80K are now over the $100K entry point.
I shudder when I think of my first bank job after the Army when they offered me a whopping $17K to start, yes annually. That was 1979, but it was good money then. Plus the company was a rock star so my own rewards started mounting fast, making up any difference there might have been (but it wasn’t a big gap to fill).
Times HAVE changed. Stop thinking in an old mindset. Make your company decisions and be ready to dive in when and if you must hire new talent.
The Tables are Turning
According to Indeed.com, the global online job matchmaker, employers are ghosting too.
Ghosting seems to have grown in popularity amongst job seekers over the past year: 28% have ghosted an employer, up from only 18% in 2019. Meanwhile, 76% of employers have been ghosted in the same time frame, and 57% believe it’s even more common than before.
Some employers say candidates are cutting off communications early in the hiring process — after an initial phone screen or interview, for instance. But others take it further, with one-quarter of employers reporting new hires “no-showing” on their first day of work.
But ghosting isn’t just a job seeker behavior anymore: Nearly half (46%) of employers surveyed believe that employers are now ghosting job seekers more frequently than before.
A whopping 77% of job seekers say they’ve been ghosted by a prospective employer since the U.S. onset of the pandemic last March, with 10% reporting that an employer has ghosted them even after a verbal job offer was made.
Alarmingly, only 27% of employers say they haven’t ghosted a job seeker in the past year. It’s another sign that ghosting has become standard practice in the hiring process — even though it creates a terrible candidate experience and can threaten a company’s employer brand.
Ghosting is here to stay — here’s what you can do about it
The latest data highlights the evolution of ghosting, from its steady growth as a jobseeker practice to its emergence as a trend among employers, too. Reasons job seekers ghost employers still vary, while employer motivation is somewhat speculative given the paucity of last year’s data.
While it’s apparent that ghosting has become deeply rooted in the hiring process, employers can take steps to minimize the impact of ghosting. In addition to keeping more detailed records of candidates who ghost, think about how you can target the source of the behavior to prevent it altogether.
Remember that focusing on attentiveness and improved communications throughout every stage of the process is key to ensuring the candidate feels informed; research has shown that many job seekers ghost when they don’t feel their needs are being met and don’t know what else to do.
Secondarily, simply being transparent, empathetic, and authentic can go a long way in building more comfort and trust in your relationship with the candidate.
Use these insights to foster more successful candidate interactions — because nobody’s giving up the ghost anytime soon.
Also, check out my podcast, Leadership Powered by Common Sense, where we’re breaking down the fast, complex world of business, finding simple, easy-button ideas to make a difference.