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Ghosting After the Interview: Strategies to Combat the Growing Trend

“Ghosting,” or disappearing from a new relationship, isn’t limited to online dating. It can be a challenge in recruiting, too—particularly in competitive industries.

 Navigating the talent landscape in the current full-employment economy poses complex challenges to HR managers who already struggle to find qualified candidates. The most recent problem is how to keep valuable talent from happily considering—or even accepting—a job offer, and then disappearing, or “ghosting.” With such behavior becoming more and more common, vacant positions remain unfilled, causing employers to waste more time and money in numerous repetitions of the hiring process. 

Ghosting a Job

According to Worldwide ERC®’s 2019 report, Talent Mobility in a Full-Employment Economy, many companies find themselves in a defensive position when looking for external talent. In this employee-driven labor market, more often than not, employers engage in bidding wars for candidates, using an array of incentives.

Exacerbating the situation for HR, candidates have become more sophisticated and technology-savvy, making them more apt to conduct in-depth research on potential employers than they did in the past. To initially attract and then engage with such individuals, employers must be more proactive about their brand proposition. If candidates uncover negative views about the company—or, perhaps, recognize that the recruiter has misrepresented the position—candidates are liable to ghost.

How Recruiters Can Discourage Ghosting

Placing the right new hires—and then moving existing employees—into the right roles at the right time, wherever located in the company, does not result from simple luck. Successful placement requires HR teams to take a disciplined approach to assessing the value employees contribute to the organization, the skills needed in any particular job, and finding the best match. And it all starts with recruiting suitable and skilled talent—without losing those candidates to ghosting—before even thinking about mobilizing the individuals internally.

Effective Recruiting Strategies

So, what can recruiters do? Participants in Worldwide ERC®’s report cited these top recruitment strategies:

  • Increase base salary for each job role for market competitiveness (47%)—Although a traditional approach, throwing money at a candidate may not be enough these days to keep a candidate from ghosting.
  • Offer skill development opportunities (40%)—Motivated candidates want viable career paths that can help them enhance their personal growth while meeting the company’s goals.
  • Offer flextime/telecommuting opportunities (39%)—This benefit is particularly attractive for younger candidates who place more value on a balanced work life.
  • Offer sign-on bonuses (33%)—With more frequent use of such bonuses, companies ensure that desired candidates remain on board for a longer period, thereby avoiding incidents of new hires continuing to search for a position with another company.
  • Speed up the process from initial outreach to offer placement (32%)—Individuals who are likely to ghost may reconsider when the employer has a faster, streamlined process in which the recruiter or new manager stays in periodic contact with the candidate.

The least popular recruitment strategy, cited by 14% of participants, involves offering student loan payments for new graduates. Its lower popularity might be good news for employers since it can be a potentially costly benefit.

 The Outlook

Companies are addressing the challenges posed by the full-employment economy through a combination of effective strategies, with recognition of the old adage: One size does not fit all. The unique culture of an organization and its workforce demographics determine which programs have the potential to work and which ones are doomed to fail. The strategies implemented to prevent or reduce the likelihood of ghosting do not have to be expensive. They do, however, require creativity and innovation to balance the company’s needs with the demands of the modern candidate pool.

One strategy that takes no money at all is common sense. If the company takes the first step in engaging candidates with courteous manners, and continuing such behavior throughout their work life, this approach potentially encourages the individuals (first as candidates, and then as employees) to respond in like fashion. Although an employer cannot force good manners on others, the company should at least provide the right example. HR may not be able to stop valuable talent from ghosting, but the odds of reducing the likelihood are enhanced through simple etiquette.

Look for a more detailed exploration of the ghosting trend and ways to combat it in the February issue of Mobility magazine.

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