Don’t get ghosted and don’t be the ghoster

September 13, 2021

candidate ghosting

We’ve all been job seekers before. The “hunt” for something promising, the meticulous resume polishing, the no-room-for-error cover letter. There's a lot of mental and emotional energy that goes into it, but more than half of workers say their biggest source of frustration when looking for a job is poor communication, according to a recent CareerBuilder survey in partnership with the Harris Poll. Of those who have dropped off during the interview process, more than half say they did so because of poor communication. 

Top reasons for this are that it either took too long to hear from the company, or the communications about next steps were vague, automated or not personalized. At the same time, 68% of hiring managers say drop off in the hiring process is a problem for their company. 

How do you prevent this? It seems simple, but it’s all about gratitude, empathy, honesty and respect. Here’s how to put those into action. 

Share pay range at the start. 

You write a glowing job posting about your great culture and the benefits you provide, how you’ll value the employee and their collaborative spirit — and candidates are all in. They have the skills to apply, and they research pay to find out what range they can expect for the role given their experience. Once the interview comes around, the hiring manager starts off by sharing the salary range. And it’s considerably less than what the candidate was expecting. Are they still interested? Well, they’ve already made it to the interview process, so they’d like to weigh their options and hear more about the role. Or they feel on the spot and don’t want to be blunt and say, ‘No.’ Whatever the case, you’ve set yourself up to get ghosted. Put pay in your job posting. And of course, it helps to know if the pay you’re offering is competitive, so you can get the applicants you need from the start. 

Don’t wait to start interviews. 

You’ve aced mobile-friendly tactics and one-click apply, you’re using AI skills-matching technology, and (hooray!) you’re upfront about pay. These are the types of automation that, if implemented right, work in candidates’ favor. But once you post your job, you wait to get a decent-sized candidate pool before you start reaching out. Only problem is, that eager candidate who applied on day one (and who you later realize is the best fit) already one-click applied for a dozen other jobs. Now they’re getting plucked by other employers, and your decent-sized candidate pool...see where this is going? You reach out to a couple candidates, but no response. We’ll call this “early-stage ghosting,” and you’ve fallen prey to it.  

According to our survey, 38% of workers say they’ve been frustrated with employers not acknowledging receipt of application. Don’t wait. Overlap the stages of your hiring process to keep from falling behind, until you find a good fit. If you’re overwhelmed with applicants and hiring tasks, it’s OK to send automated emails and use other hiring tools to keep in touch, but make any messaging sound personal, as though it’s coming from a human in real time. If possible, block off time every day to personally respond to messages. Candidates will appreciate you reaching out with an update, even if it’s just to acknowledge this is taking longer than either of you would like. 

Be clear and follow through. 

Give a reasonable time frame for when candidates can expect to hear from you, and detail what the hiring process will look like. Candidates will remain engaged if they know they’ll hear from you by Friday, for example. And most importantly, follow through on promises! It’s a good indicator that you’ll remain accountable and trustworthy as an employer. We've seen even the most detailed, warm application receipt emails (hype videos and abundant reassurance included) lose credibility when the employer failed to follow up and left candidates hanging...and hanging.  

Don’t slack once they accept your offer. 

The time between hire and start date is critical, yet barely half of employers have a set communications plan in place for this stage, according to CareerBuilder research. Make sure your HR team can quickly run through all the steps, from background checks to tax forms to benefits enrollment. Meanwhile, check in with the candidate every few days to make sure they know what’s expected of them and that they have everything they need. You’ll build trust and loyalty — and candidates are less likely to ghost before the start date. 

Reject respectfully and directly. 

Give candidates the courtesy of letting them know they didn’t make the cut. Every applicant you engage with becomes part of your valuable talent pipeline, whether it’s immediate or not. Truly show gratitude that they took the time to apply at your company. Even if they didn’t get the job this time, they’ll remember how positive the hiring process was, and they’re more likely to apply later with more experience and skills. 

With technology now aiding in nearly every aspect of the hiring process, it can be tempting to focus on how tools are helping your search instead of how those tools and your overall process are affecting the candidate experience. Tech shouldn’t make hiring less human, but it should allow you to focus on the human aspects of hiring. 

For more insights, read the full report.

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