If your hiring managers and recruiters are not following up with interviewed candidates who are not hired, your company is ghosting those candidates. While the term was first coined to describe what happens when you go on a date and then never hear from the person you went out with again, it aptly applies to what happens to job candidates on a regular basis, according to HR writer Suzanne Lucas (How Ghosting Affects Employee Recruitment).
There are a variety of reasons why companies ghost job candidates. Having the time and personnel to follow up with each candidate can be challenging. It’s difficult to deliver bad news to a qualified candidate, and it can be uncomfortable to give honest feedback to those who are less qualified. Changes can happen suddenly within companies – priorities shift, budgets are cut, job openings are withdrawn, jobs are filled internally – and keeping candidates updated regarding ongoing internal changes can easily fall by the wayside.
Given the current low unemployment rate and increased competition among companies for qualified candidates, it might be time to consider how ghosting your job candidates could have an adverse effect on your future recruiting. When the unemployment rate was high, there was less downside to ghosting because there were always new candidates readily available to fill job openings. In today’s employment environment, qualified candidates are harder to find, so communicating with your job candidates throughout the recruiting process could encourage qualified candidates who aren’t the right fit for your current positions to consider future opportunities with your company.
According to a recent survey conducted by The Harris Poll on behalf of CareerBuilder and SilkRoad among 1,138 hiring managers and 1,114 employees, candidates today have higher expectations for communication from potential employers during their job search process (see Job seekers in the driver’s seat, high expectations for recruiting and onboarding experiences). The research found that 68% believe their experience as a job candidate reflects how the company treats its employees. A majority of the respondents also indicated that they now evaluate a future employer according to how they are being treated as a candidate. The survey results confirm a significant shift of power from employers to candidates — largely fueled by sustained low unemployment and widening skills gaps that are making it more difficult for employers to find and keep the talent they need to compete.
Candidates and employees seem to be turning the tables on employers, in part due to years of experiencing ghosting, according to Wall Street Journal reporter Chip Cutter. He notes that nowadays it’s not unusual for candidates to not return calls from recruiters and potential employers, and no-shows for interviews and even first days on the job are more common than in the past. Candidates who have not felt respected by potential employers are now showing disrespect by ghosting employers in return. Many recruiters are learning the hard way that their years of assuming that candidates would always be available are over and that many job seekers now seem to have the upper hand.
If you want to help reverse this unfortunate trend toward ghosting by both candidates and employers, it’s time to recognize that communicating with all candidates who have interviewed, regardless of outcome, is the right thing to do, says organization development consultant Susan Heathfield (How to Communicate With Your Job Candidates). Candidates who take the time to go through your application and interview process need and deserve feedback to understand their status in the process. Not only will follow up help candidates feel more regarded and respected, it will also enhance your reputation as an employer and help build a prospective employee pipeline to support future recruiting.