Ghosting: The Daunting Side of Recruiting in a Candidate-Led Market

It shouldn’t be news to anyone that sourcing technical talent today is harder than ever. As firms race to gain a competitive edge by implementing the latest and greatest technologies they are desperately seeking out the talent necessary to make their transformation plans happen. But the truth is that these digital skill sets are incredible scarce and hard to find.

And, to add fuel to the proverbial fire, even when a recruiter does manage to locate and engage a potential candidate, the likelihood is that that candidate will suddenly go missing somewhere along the process.

If battling the skills gap wasn’t hard enough, recruiters are now facing another phenomenon: ghosting.

What is ghosting?

A term more commonly used in the world of dating, ghosting is defined as the act of ending a personal relationship with someone by suddenly withdrawing all communication without any explanation. Yes, it’s as cold as it sounds.

Texts aren’t replied to, calls aren’t answered, and emails seem to be being dutifully sent to the trash can as soon as they’re received. Suddenly your perfect candidate has disappeared into a puff of smoke, and despite your best efforts to find them, they just don’t seem to want to be contacted.

Why is it suddenly happening?

This phenomenon isn’t new; in fact, any recruiter today will tell you that engaging candidates is becoming increasingly difficult. Not only are they rare, and difficult to find, but candidates are constantly inundated with so much information from recruiters that they tend to automatically turn a blind eye.

However, ghosting is definitely becoming an increasingly regular occurrence, and that can be a hard pill to swallow given the already difficult climate.

That’s not to say that candidate behaviour is intentionally malicious, but with the job market the strongest it has been in almost 20 years, the simple fact of the matter is that candidates have so many opportunities available to them.

In the tech world specifically, candidates have so many businesses actively clamouring for their skills, that they simply can’t, or don’t follow through with all of their processes. Following the presumed approach that “no response is a response”, they decide that disappearing under the radar and cutting off communication is easier than just saying no.

Can it be avoided?

Unfortunately, when you work in a skills-short, candidate-driven market, the reality is that you’re always going to be fighting an uphill battle to gain, and maintain, the attention of candidates. But, that doesn’t mean that you should sit back and wait for the potential ghosting to happen; in fact, preventative measures can be taken to reduce the likelihood of your candidates going AWOL.

Nowadays, a good candidate experience is becoming more and more important. Recruiters and businesses alike have switched their mind-set from believing that they can ignore job applicants or snub candidates after interviews, to taking actions to actively review and refine their candidate process in order to ensure that it is as smooth, seamless and enjoyable as possible.

As Gaelle Polart, Digital Talent Acquisition Manager at Adidas put it “Digital tech recruitment has always been highly competitive, and this is only increasing, so {businesses} are placing a stronger emphasis on their candidate experience” 

How does improving candidate experience reduce the likelihood of ghosting?

The logic here is pretty straightforward; if you aren’t providing your candidates with a positive experience then they’re less likely to care about leaving you high and dry if they drop off the face of the earth mid-process. Recruiters need to focus on building and maintaining genuine relationships with potential candidates to avoid getting ghosted.

This represents a shift from more old school methods of recruiting; namely the spray and pray tactics of sending out hundreds of blanket InMails in the hopes that one potential candidate is interested enough to spark up a conversation. The problem here is that these candidates have no real connection with you, meaning they wouldn’t think twice about blanking your email asking them to confirm their attendance at an upcoming interview.

Contrast this with a candidate whom you know well, who you’ve met, and who you’ve maintained contact with throughout their career. It’s human nature to want to treat others as they treat you. If you put this candidate up for a role and they decide that it isn’t quite right, they’ll be much more likely to communicate their desire not to continue rather than just dropping off the radar.

Ghosting can be frustrating and the rise in this activity has certainly highlighted the need for change in the industry.

Recruitment needs to be people first, and move away from the mass-transactional activity that has created the culture of passivity and apathy amongst candidates. Although it may not solve the problem of ghosting, putting the emphasis back on building relationships might just reduce the frequency of its occurrence. 


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