Ghost Sightings Explode
Hello all, and welcome back to the Recruiting Musings of a well-seasoned campaigner. Stick around and you might pick up a tip or two.
If you are in the hiring game and paying attention, undoubtedly you’ve noticed a huge spike in candidate’s “Ghosting”. This is a phenomenon that has been around forever, but recently has grown to a commonplace occurrence. Ghosting is when a seemingly engaged candidate drops out of existence and becomes unreachable much to the chagrin of their recruiters and/or HR folks. It’s been an ever-increasing epidemic through 2019 and is not likely to change this year. 95% of recruiters say they have recently encountered a ghost.
So, we all know ghosts are spooky, incorporeal revenants, haunting creepy old sanitoriums or remote hotels, but why bother us? After all, we’re only trying to grow our businesses and hire solid performers. Why materialize and apply for our job and phone screen and agree to visit on-site only to totally disappear as if by magic, never to be seen again? Why go to the trouble?
There are theories and speculation abounding in the industry to explain the rampant ghost encounters. Some believe that the historically tight candidate market is to blame. Our ghosts just have too many options to necessitate professionalism. Or perhaps, our ghosts may have a different understanding of what process and professional business decorum actually entails. Some put the stink squarely on us. Our process is too long. Our follow-up is weak. Our expectations are too high.
Every ghost must have its own reasons to appear and disappear willy-nilly. Whether those reasons are proper or fair or even real are out of our control. What we can do is our job. We can control our engagement of potential ghosts. We can relay our expectations and timeline for the selection process. We can make them want to stick around to see what happens. Well, we can try.
If you find yourself inexplicably surrounded by ghosts, here’s your to-do list:
- Don’t be afraid. Engage your potential ghost. Personal communication makes ghosting more difficult. Personalize the process. Ask for their input. Sell your opportunity. Be responsive.
- Be transparent. Yeah. Bad pun, I know. But still….if potential ghosts know what’s coming, what’s expected and when, they can prepare. Coach them up, be of value and maybe, just maybe, they won’t let you down.
- Avoid the old haunts. It’s proven that spam-like ads, job boards and the most popular avenues to candidates basically beg for us to be ghosted. Familiarity breeds contempt. Do your job. Recruit people. Get referrals. Create the relationship. Make a friend. Gain an ally.
- Run! Abbreviated hiring cycles are quickly gaining popularity. The top contenders for jobs do not have the luxury of slogging through a long and protracted hiring process. Make it quick and behold, your potential ghost is now making you money.
- Document your encounter. Save and study your data. Look at your process, timelines and ghosting incidents. Recognize any detrimental patterns and adjust accordingly.
The power has moved from companies to candidates in 2020. They are in demand. They can afford to be choosy. They can afford to ghost us. Why? We’re slow, we’re uninteresting, we’re demanding. Maybe they lost their phone, or it’s wing night, or they decided to take the summer off and haunt Maui. The bottom line is, it doesn’t really matter. As recruiters and corporate hiring professionals, we need understand the phenomenon and take some countermeasures to prevent it.
About the Author
Patrick McLaughlin is the Director of Talent Acquisition at MEA. He is an author, advisor and mentor. In his 25+ years in the headhunting world, he has created and coached world-class recruiting teams. Today, his department serves MEA members who are growing their operations and improving their recruiting processes. Contact Pat if you’d like to know more. It’s easy, just turn out the lights, face a mirror, say his name 3 times and click your heels. He’ll appear right behind you….