The fight against candidate ghosting

The fight against candidate ghosting
Natalie Toniotti
Natalie Toniotti
    8 minute read

When we think of the term ‘ghosting’, we usually refer to someone who has withdrawn communication suddenly, without an explanation, never to be heard from again. In the recruitment world, this term has actually started gaining an even worse reputation than it already had… ‘candidate ghosting’.

In this blog, we take you through where candidate ghosting came from, why it’s causing a problem and how your business can implement preventative measures to avoid it from happening. We also will discuss ‘employee ghosting’, a similar term that is instead focused on your existing employees.

Candidate ghosting: what it is and where it came from

The term ‘ghosting’ in the recruitment world isn’t new. It is usually commonly associated with HR functions where a HR specialist or talent acquisition specialist ghosts an applicant or job seeker looking to be hired for an advertised position. This can be in the form of not replying to messages, not notifying candidates if they are unsuccessful and cutting off all communication. This is not the best practice for recruitment but unfortunately, it still occurs.

Now candidates have made the switch; they are the ones ghosting the recruiters or employers looking for quality talent. According to Indeed’s survey, from an employer's perspective, 46% of them believe candidate ghosting is on the rise. From a candidate's perspective, 28% of them openly admit to having ghosted employers before. But this trend has been growing for some time, with 76% of recruiters having experienced some form of candidate ghosting in the past year or two.

And who do the candidates ghost? Anyone and everyone. Whether you are part of a recruitment agency, a talent acquisition manager or just a local hiring manager looking for an extra pair of hands, candidates aren’t biased.

So why ghost employers? The top reasons, according to Indeed why candidates are starting to ghost employers are:

  • The job offered was not compatible with what they were originally looking for (15%)
  • They received a better job offer elsewhere (20%)
  • The salary offered did not meet expectations (13%).

If you know about ‘The Great Reshuffle’, ‘The Great Re-evaluation’ or ‘The Great Resignation’, these reasons shouldn’t come as a surprise to you. Candidates are taking a stand for what they believe they are worth in the job market and aren’t scared to ghost employers if they don’t meet those expectations.

With 81% of employers stating compensation packages are becoming more demanding than pre-pandemic levels, salary is a major factor in deterring candidates. Candidates have the power to determine if they want to stay invested in your recruitment process or not. They aren’t in a rush anymore and if they feel they are being pressured or not valued during this process, they are likely to flake.

But don’t just look to invest time in improving compensation packages. Candidates are ghosting at every stage of the recruitment process. Put yourself in their shoes. One minute you’re answering questions about your work history over the phone, the next your having a face-to-face interview that may require you to take a day off of work to attend and so on. If you’re not feeling motivated to complete these steps, chances are you’ll turn to a competitor who is giving you the time of day. With 77% of recruiters currently ghosting candidates, it’s no surprise they are turning around and saying enough is enough.

With the ‘supply and demand’ talent conundrum gripping businesses around the world, leaders can’t afford to be ghosted. There just isn’t enough quality talent around to miss even one good catch. So how can you put your best foot forward?

How to avoid being ghosted by candidates

The most popular way employers have been combating candidate ghosting in 2022 is by offering signing bonuses. But apart from just increasing pay and adding more to benefit packages, what other processes could be improved to stand out in the right way to candidates?

Be flexible with assessments and interviews

During the pandemic, businesses made the transition to digitally-enhanced methods that assisted in keeping up with hiring needs. This included conducting interviews via online communication platforms and facilitating assessment centres that were based online.

Candidates who experienced these digital substitutes may be hard-pressed to let go of them. The convenience of conducting sometimes highly stressful assessments in the comfort of your own home means candidates could feel safe and secure showcasing their best selves.

It’s not to say physical interviews or assessments don’t allow candidates that comfort, it’s just a consideration for businesses to continue to offer ways for candidates to choose how they want to be assessed. This could also be an indication to candidates just how open to flexible working arrangements your business could be; a trend that isn’t going anywhere.

Not to mention the extended reach your recruitment pool can have by allowing remote candidates to apply and showcase their skills if your business is open to employing staff not just locally.

Invest in recruitment platforms

More than 50% of candidates are considering offers from two different jobs at once, so making sure your business stays in front of the candidate is non-negotiable. If your competitor is communicating more frequently and sending messages offering tips on how to best prepare for their interview, you’re already behind and increasing your chances of getting ghosted.

That’s where recruitment communication tools and software can save you time and keep you in the running to secure quality candidates. Some platforms have workflows that can automatically send pre-planned content at differing stages of the recruitment process. This could include information on your business's mission statement and corporate social responsibility or what they can expect in the first few weeks on the job, all sent at a click of a button.

Want to send a friendly reminder for their references to be supplied or ask what their coffee order is for their first interview? Maybe their physical interview or assessment is at a location that is difficult to get to. Why not advise where it is best to park or the ideal public transport to get to you on time? These platforms can do it all.

With the average recruitment process taking up to 42 days, you may even want to find one that can send reminders to let candidates know they are still being considered for a position and you apologise for any delays. A personalised message sent from the system can provide your contact details if they have any questions at any point in the recruitment process.

Improve your candidate experience

Candidate experience is defined as how job seekers react to a company’s recruitment process, all the way from the initial attraction that led them to apply for a job, the recruitment process and even the onboarding and training activities post-job acceptance. These reactions can determine whether a candidate wants to engage your company for a position, or ghost - depending on how bad their candidate experience has been with 38% of candidates more likely to accept a job offer if they have had a positive candidate experience.

Start to improve your candidate experience by:

  • Creating concise job descriptions
  • Keeping the recruitment process transparent
  • Investing in a dedicated business careers page
  • Supporting a seamless job application process 
  • Respecting the efforts of job seekers
  • Keeping communication constant
  • Improving your interview process
  • Providing and receiving feedback
  • Considering recruitment marketing initiatives.

Consider different recruitment strategies

Recruitment process outsourcing (RPO) involves sending all or some of your recruitment processes or tasks to a team or person outside of your business to complete. This could be anyone from a freelance RPO provider just down the road to an outsourcing provider overseas that offers RPO services.

The global RPO market size was $6.107 million at the end of 2019 and is expected to grow to $18.540 million by the end of 2026, with a compound annual growth rate of 17%. With the expected global talent shortage set to hit more than 85 million people by 2030 and the average job vacancy cost estimated for a business to be $500 a day per person, RPO doesn’t sound like a bad investment to get that weight off your shoulders and into trusting, capable recruitment experts.

What are the benefits of recruitment process outsourcing? Cost savings, improvement in the quality of candidates and expert recruitment advice to pick out quality candidates.

What about the benefits for your candidates? More clear job descriptions, simpler application processes and a quicker hiring time.

Employee ghosting explained

Now before you get too excited thinking you’ve escaped the concept of ‘ghosting’ when your candidates sign the bottom line, here’s another one for you: ‘employee ghosting’. It may not be as intense as losing complete contact with your candidates, although in the contract space it can happen, employee ghosting is something businesses need to watch out for.

Employee ghosting occurs when a business tries to get in touch with an employee for say, an ad-hoc shift, and it becomes increasingly more difficult to get through to them. From not showing up for shifts to not answering phone calls, employee ghosting is frustrating to managers, fellow employees and the overall business in terms of absenteeism as it relates to productivity goals. Employee ghosting can have a big impact on a business's bottom line if it becomes a regular occurrence.

So how can you prevent employee ghosting in your business? Start to re-assess how engaged your employees are at work. Do they feel motivated? Valued? Have they been given a chance to offer feedback on their work-life balance or do they feel comfortable asking for flexible working arrangements? Improving your employee engagement is one way to let them know you care.

How outsourcing can improve your candidate experience

What recruitment looks like in one business can look completely different in another. It is one of those human resource functions that lends itself to being quite flexible depending on the requirements of a business. There is no set guide to setting up successful talent acquisition teams.

That is why it is important to understand how best you can establish efficient recruitment processes that keep your business a preferred employer of choice. This could mean having a recruitment team based outside of your business or sending recruitment tasks overseas - an outsourced recruitment function - better known as recruitment process outsourcing (RPO).

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