Around sometime last year, the idea of ghosting began to take the tech recruiting and hiring industry by storm. If you’ve been recruiting for a while, you’ve probably experienced it, too. Candidates just stop showing up; they blow off phone screens, face-to-face interviews, and, in some instances, their first day on the job.
For recruiters, the threat of ghosting looms large. You’re devoting a lot of time to sourcing, screening, engaging, interviewing and hiring that perfect candidate. When that person just disappears, the recruiter loses out and has to restart the entire process from square one.
While there’s no surefire way to know when and why a candidate ghosts, it is possible to take concrete steps to help prevent it. Consider the following:
Be Actually Interested in Your Candidates
While you might think it’s too simple to be true, I’d call this step the most effective one of all. Next time you kick off your engagement strategy, remember two things: honesty and openness.
In order to exorcize the ghosts before they can start haunting you, you’ll need to forge a real connection with them. By letting candidates know that you’re sincerely interested in helping and relating to them on a personal level, you’re more likely to foster trust and commitment—and thereby avoid any unfortunate outcomes.
Start off candidate conversations by explaining who you are and when you’re available to the job seeker (be specific, unless you want emails every weekend). Let them know how long the process takes and what it might look like if they advance. If you’re able to supply any additional details or resources, do it as early as possible.
Once you lay the foundation, shift the focus back to the candidate. Find out who they are, how they prefer to engage, and what they’re looking for from you. During this step, cover all of your bases and take care of any other routine tasks. Maintain transparency by always explaining the “why” of your inquiries.
Make Your Own Communication a Constant
A lot of the backlash around ghosting places the blame squarely on those doing the hiring. The basic argument: Candidates apply for jobs without hearing back from hiring teams pretty often. Because of this, their ghosting could be a form of payback. While this theory doesn’t quite align with what’s happening in the recruiting space, it’s not entirely off, either.
Candidates want to know where they stand, how far along they are in the recruiting process, and when they can expect to hear from you. Communication is a basic tenet of the candidate experience. Remember the golden rule? Treat others the way you want to be treated.
Whether you reach out the old-fashioned way, or you employ some form of automation like text messaging software, just keep in contact with your candidates. Some recommend following up once a week, while others suggest a more aggressive approach: Reaching out every 24 hours and requesting a response every third message. Find out what works best for you by asking for candidate feedback, or even doing some A/B testing. No matter how you choose to communicate, the key is making it a priority.
Don’t Lose Sight of Your Candidate’s Needs
Once you’ve made it to the offer stage, you might think you’ve got this candidate in the bag, but there’s no guarantee just yet. Ghosting at this point is still very possible, especially when the job seeker is in high demand (which is usually true of tech pros with specialized skills). Even though you might not have control over what the employer offers, you can still serve as a valuable resource to the candidate’s career journey and help guide them in the right direction.
The offer is usually a “make or break” moment, and some candidates may need a little time to think about whether your team’s offer is the right fit. Worst-case scenario, a better opportunity comes along, and poof, you no longer exist. To prevent this from happening, revisit tip number one: Being sincerely interested in the candidate. By showing that you see this candidate as a person and not just a req to fill, you’ll keep that contact (and their referrals) in your talent pool for the long haul.
Know (and Address) the Reality of Your Industry Pain Points
The fact of the matter is, ghosting has been around in one form or another for a long time (it just has a trendier name now). The issue here is that ghosting appears to be on the rise in the recruiting and hiring world. Before it becomes somehow acceptable in the eyes of job seekers, recruiters will need to learn how to step in and take a more positive approach to engagement.
The best method for keeping ghosts at bay will always be to know and understand your candidate’s value, emphasize your humanity, under-promise, and over-deliver.
Ryan Leary helps create the processes, ideas and innovation that drive RecruitingDaily. He’s RecruitingDaily’s in-house expert for anything related to sourcing, tools or technology. A lead generation and brand buzz building machine, he has built superior funnel systems for some of the industry’s top HR Tech and Recruitment brands. He is a veteran of the online community and a partner at RecruitingDaily.