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Ghosted- The New Trend In The Workplace, How to Prevent It

Updated: May 1, 2022


Ghosting, the ceasing and shutdown of communication without any warning or justification has transcended beyond dating to the workplace. You may be wondering how this applies to companies. Well think about it from this perspective: Have you ever hired an employee, who comes to work for some time, and then never shows back up? Do you ever have problems with employees who disappear and never return to work? How about a candidate you are aggressively pursuing who seems interested in your position, who one day just stops taking your calls? If any of this sounds familiar, then you’ve been ghosted and as the employer, just know that you are not alone.

When a candidate genuinely expresses interest in your open position, you start to woo them or court them as you would if you were dating. The candidate accepts your position. You do everything you need to do to prepare for their arrival, but something happens on their start date. They are nowhere to be found. Your new hire goes dark. You call them, leave multiple messages, and all of your efforts show no results.

Today, many recruiters and employers are dealing with this new trend, and it doesn’t seem like it is going to change anytime soon. How unprofessional, right? It appears that more candidates are falling off the radar because of the tight labor market or because of the generational change we are seeing in the workforce.

You could think it doesn't happen all the time as you read this, but statistics reveal it does at all phases of the hiring process. It is a hard statistic to try and capture across companies and industries, however, among the conversations of recruiters, this trend is a hot discussion topic. While usually a trend in hourly-wage positions, this has started to become a trend for white-collar positions.

Let’s explore some of the potential reasons behind why employers could be experiencing this new trend.

1. Too many options

The candidate may feel they have the advantage. When you have a candidate, who is highly skilled or simply may have all the knowledge you may be seeking, and you think this candidate could be a good fit, remember that the candidate may oftentimes have multiple options. It is possible that the candidate does not want what you offer, even though when they speak to you they seem committed, however, the candidate suddenly falls off the radar.

2. Poor communication and untimely replies

Are your recruiters overwhelmed with the day-to-day task of candidate communications and logistics? Recruiters can oftentimes get bogged down in the minutia and sometimes things slip under the radar. If your candidate feels forgotten due to a lack of follow-up or timely replies with updates, you stand a chance of being ghosted.

3. The company is not well managed

When management and leadership are the problem and the employee believes it is obvious from day one.

4. One-sided relationship

When you realize the job is not what you wanted even though the employer tells you they want you.

5. The job hired for is not the job in reality

New hires who complain within the first week of being hired that the job they were hired to do is not the job they are doing. In a culture where technology is used to do most functions of your day to day life, the candidate may text their manager that they quit, or simply never show back up to work concluding that it would be easier to walk away and find another job or go with another offer that doesn’t require them to have that awkward conversation.

Let's Wrap-up

Regardless of the reason for ghosting the employer, the candidate needs to remember that in this digital age, it is easy to remember people and moments that stand out. Your memorable exit will be remembered. You never know when you could run into those same people you ghosted during another season in your career. Likewise, employers who have recruiting practices that reduce candidate engagement to no feedback, take a hard look at your practices.

A phone call or simple email communication to provide follow-up is a professional courtesy to those you have interviewed. I would even suggest that those who took the time to apply but were not qualified are owed a communication.

Thanks to applicant tracking systems and electronic mail, your ability to communicate with candidates are not limited. Ghosting candidates is no longer an excuse. Whether you are successful in recruiting top candidates depends on the interactions you have with candidates. To recruit the best talent and build a great employer brand, you have to interact with candidates effectively.

The fact that trends can fade or die is important to remember. A candidate-driven market can easily switch back to being employer-driven. It is still polite to have a quick phone conversation, or even to have one awkward conversation. To avoid contributing to this trend, employers should consider adding formal candidate engagement communications at all phases of the hiring process.

Remember, be professional, extend a courtesy to job applicants who interview with recruiters or hiring managers by following up and refraining from ghosting them if they don't get the position.

This article was written by Fawn Hentrel, Managing Partner.

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