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5 Ways to respond to employee ghosting

Employee ghosting is an experience that we have come to be familiar with – a frustrating experience that has come to live with us. Imagine having an amazing pitch, then exchanging emails, making plans, and then all of a sudden, it all goes silent, and you never hear from them again.

Most times, you experience ghosting when things are going great! Most times, contact is broken at the point of success. And every single time, figuring out the reason for the ghosting is usually difficult and most times impossible.

Employers are most concerned about the rise in the trend of candidates that fail to show up on the scheduled interview, those that don’t arrive on the first day of work, or even go as far as quitting without notice. It’s a trend known as “Employee Ghosting.”

As the labor market continues to tighten, employers and hiring managers are making a complaint about experiencing a surge of a lot of workers not showing up for their interview, or even accepting the job and not showing up on the first day. Some employees are even quitting by walking out and saying nothing,

What is employee ghosting?

Employee ghosting is a situation when a business contact suddenly stops responding to all forms of communication with the business or organisation without any form of explanation. Similarly to the ghosting we are familiar with when it comes to dating – this can leave the other party confused, disappointed, and let down. This act of someone dropping off the face of the planet is not unique to only people that are romantically involved (unfortunately). 

Most times, this professional ghosting happens in the field of recruitment – you get a candidate that stopped responding to emails, one that skips the interview, one that signs a contract, and then backs out without reason.

In recent trends, employers are seeing more applicants blowing off interviews, new hires not showing up, and workers abruptly not returning to work. 

This is because the talent market trend works in favour of the candidates, which gives them the chance to be picky about the opportunities they want to pursue or stick around for. As an employee, you should know that professional ghosting has a reason, and knowing these reasons, will help you do something to prevent employee professional ghosting.

5 steps to respond to employee ghosting

  1. Understand the candidate’s motive from the start
  2. Deliver on your promises
  3. Realise it’s them, not you
  4. Poke holes in your process and improve
  5. Follow up before assuming the worst

Why is it happening?

A lot of career experts claim that this situation is on the rise for them, not paying attention to the fact that recruiters have been doing the same to candidates for a long time now. 

Meanwhile, the rate of unemployment we are experiencing today is the lowest in two decades now, and the job market keeps growing. Workers now have more options. If they feel a certain way towards a job, an organisation of the boss, they just leave and find something better.

Also, adding to the fact that the means of communication have been changed due to the level of technology – we are looking at a perfect storm for flaking out at work. Texts, emails, and communication apps like Slack have made it all too easy for people to ignore a message.

We’ll be discussing a few ways you can respond to professional ghosting.

  1. Understand the candidate’s motive from the start 

    Most times, a lot of candidates go through a hiring process even without being interested in the job from the start. They just go through these motions to see what is out there for them, or to use your offer as leverage for their current employer. As an employer, you should make sure that an employee is truly interested and engaged in the job from the start. You should be able to sniff out the candidate’s level of interest as they go through the hiring process.

    One easy way to do this is to shift your target of satisfying what the company needs to look at what the candidate needs. Ask questions as to what their interests, goals, and career plans are. This way, you will get a better sense of what they are looking for, where they are, etc. Understand how the job opportunity you are offering connects to their overall career path and what drew them to it originally. 

    This will help you understand their motives and show the candidate that you are invested in helping them achieve their future career goals. 

  2. Deliver on your promises 

    If a candidate accepts a job, then a few days, weeks, or months later, they ghost your organisation, it could be an indicator that something is missing between their expectations and reality. As an employer, you should be honest when it comes to the organisation’s culture, policies, and what to expect in the interview so that candidates are not surprised to find something different when they arrive on day one. 

    Make sure you draw a thick line between being realistic as to what people can expect to gain when they join your organisation and selling the opportunity.

    At the end of the day, it’s your job to make sure you have a tight recruitment process, and candidates are engaged all the way through without any red flags. However, at times people just throw a curveball at you, and you just have to take the hit. The hardest thing about recruitment is that you’re dealing with people, and you can’t control their actions”.

  3. Realise it’s them, not you

    Think about this – “would you date someone that does not have enough decency to communicate their feelings to you openly?” The same goes for employers. If a candidate you’re trying to hire ghosts your some point in the hiring process (unless due to some personal issue that stops them from responding), that silence should be a big indicator that such a client is not the right one for you. However, as hard as it seems, try to consider it a bullet dodged — if this is how they treat an interview, imagine what would happen if they eventually accept the job.

  4. Poke holes in your process and improve

     

    Aristotle once said that “knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom.” This is just the entire truth in the hiring process. If you’re looking to understand the candidates better, or you’re seeking to understand why candidates are dropping off the map, then you should pay attention to your hiring process to see where the candidate experience could be improved. Make sure you have a tight process, with no room for error. Don’t leave the candidate waiting for too long in between interviews, and always be clear from the start as to what the process is made up of.

    Pay attention to things like “your time to hire, your touchpoints between interview, what is expected from each interview, etc.” as any problem not tackled here can impact the impression a candidate has of your company. If a candidate is waiting around too long to hear back from you, chances are they will pursue other opportunities, so be sure to keep them in the loop and provide feedback and transparency as much as possible! 

  5. Follow up before assuming the worst

    If, eventually, you don’t hear back from a candidate after a few days, you should consider sending an email to rescind the offer. Such a candidate might end up coming back with an apology or some kind of excuse. However, when doing this, trust your guts.

    Remember that great candidates are juggling many great offers, so it’s up to you to communicate the opportunity and follow up in a way that entices the candidate and gets their attention. 

Conclusion

No one knows the exact reason for ghosting in the workplace; no one knows if this trend is here to stay, or not. However, one thing is certain; the attitudes of candidates have changed, which means organizations need to change.

By building strong talent communities and engaging new hires early, you can place yourself in the right position to reduce the likelihood of candidates and employees ghosting you.

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