Talent management
Case studies
Trainer profiles

The "ghosting" phenomenon: a new reality for recruiters

by Technologia
June 21, 2022
The "ghosting" phenomenon: a new reality for recruiters

The phenomenon of "ghosting", or when a candidate does not give any sign of life after a positive interview, is not new. Employed for a long time by recruiters who do not necessarily give news to all those who have been interviewed, it is now practiced by the candidates themselves thanks to an economic situation that is favorable to them. There is now a shift in the balance of power between recruiters and candidates, which is why this phenomenon is being promoted. However, no one wins from this type of behavior. So, how can you avoid it, whether you are a recruiter or a candidate? We'll try to shed some light on the subject.

What exactly is ghosting?

Ghosting" appeared with dating sites and the rise of social media. After a first contact, when a person doesn't want to give any more news, we say that he/she "ghosts" the other person by not giving any more signs of life and by disappearing without giving any explanations. The person becomes a ghost from the point of view of the other person!

Why do we talk about this in the field of recruitment?

As we said earlier, recruiters have been ghosting candidates for a long time: no more sound, no more image after an interview, not even a simple "sorry your application was not selected". Applicants have no choice but to accept this generalized practice, even if it is not well received and creates resentment among them.

However, in the current context of full employment and labour shortage, candidates are not shy about not contacting us during the recruitment process. And this is the big news: the HR world is now faced with this reality. Candidates now have the "luxury" of being able to "store around" for the position they want to fill and, more importantly, the company they want to join. This is a complete paradigm shift since this situation has never been seen before.

One thing is for sure, recruiters have to deal with this phenomenon that can appear at all stages of the recruitment process - before and after the first interview, on the first day of work (even if the contract has been signed), but also during the first days or weeks after the hiring. With the exception of a few large, prestigious companies, few are immune to being "ghosted" by a candidate.

A generational problem?

According to a Wall Street Journal survey, the ghosting phenomenon only concerns candidates under 35 years old. It would be linked to a change in the mindset of the new generations: they would prefer a quest for meaning in their personal and professional lives. If candidates do not quickly find a meaning in their new position, they are capable of quitting their job on the spot without giving any news.

What are the reasons?

It is not always easy to make a precise diagnosis, as the principle of "ghosting" is precisely to leave without explanation. However, a few trends are beginning to emerge regarding the reasons why candidates no longer want to give news during the recruitment process:

  • A better offer received in the meantime;
  • The position does not correspond to expectations (a job description and an employer brand that do not correspond to reality, which ultimately creates disappointment);
  • The recruitment process is too long;
  • An unforeseen event beyond the candidate's control occurred.

If we dig a little deeper and go beyond these motivations, we can hypothesize based on the experience of dating sites, to understand why candidates do not bother to warn:

  • Fear of confrontation and having to participate in a difficult conversation, where they will have to explain and justify themselves;
  • Feeling that the recruiter will not listen (anyway);
  • Willingness not to hurt the recruiter's feelings by explaining the reasons for the rejection;
  • Fear of being persuaded to stay if the conversation is verbal.

Although debatable, this new behavior is, for many, a fair return. Candidates often send dozens of resumes and cover letters to companies without ever getting a response except for the one, most often automated, telling them that their mail has been received. Recruiters no longer have a monopoly on ghosting. The ball is now in both camps.

In this game, nobody is really winning. So what are the ways HR can limit the damage?

How can recruiters avoid ghosting?

Build a solid candidate experience

While it's hard to be sure that you'll never be ghosted during a recruitment process, companies can still put all the odds on their side by taking the right steps to discourage this kind of behavior from candidates.

  • Write an attractive job offer, adapted to the profiles sought, be creative to attract positive attention and be transparent about the proposed salary;
  • Act quickly! Propose an interview as soon as you receive an attractive CV so that it can be held as quickly as possible. Companies are competing with each other for the same candidate. If a candidate does not show up for an interview, it means that he or she has already found a job elsewhere. You have to react quickly;
  • During the entire recruiting process, develop good communication with the candidate and listen carefully;
  • Favour remote interviews and avoid having a candidate come to the office if he or she does not see any added value. If an in-person interview is essential, explain to the candidate the reasons for this choice;
  • Make a friendly reminder a few days before the arrival on the job;
  • Follow up with the other "finalist" candidates (translation: do not ghost them). Keep their CVs warm, in case the new recruit decides to drop out;
  • Use your connections: a person recommended by an internal employee will probably be more reliable during the process.

Some companies even go so far as to financially reward a newly hired employee to encourage him or her to go through the integration process to the end. How far are you willing to go for a candidate/new employee?

Build your employer brand

A candidate will be more likely to want to work for a company that has a strong employer brand. Building an employer brand is a long-term process that requires a solid employee experience. The candidate must say to himself "this company is incredible and the image it gives off is really positive, I would love to work for it! To do this, all communications must be in line with the image that you want to give yourself and the website must reflect this image as much as possible. Be careful, the projected image must correspond to reality...

Real risks for the candidates

Recruiters are like candidates, they go from company to company (if they are external firms, they usually have large databases). They are therefore in a position to "blacklist" "ghost" candidates that they might come across during future recruitments. In some sectors, the world is sometimes small and it is not uncommon to come across people that we would never have imagined seeing again. They could even be part of our network. We must therefore be aware that our actions can have serious consequences and could alter our professional reputation.

In conclusion, to avoid ghosting, everyone must take responsibility. On the one hand, the recruiter must involve the candidate in a transparent way at each step of the recruitment process by communicating quickly and clearly his or her intentions. On the other hand, the candidate must understand the position he/she is applying for and the company he/she is applying for, and assume responsibility for his/her choices. Everyone must do their part for the sake of respect.

To go further

Recruitment: Selecting and Convincing Talent

Contact us

To learn more about our new services or to talk to us about your skills development needs, contact Cyrielle Renard at 514-380-8237 or by email: crenard@technologia.ca.