While a lot is being said about candidates “ghosting” (ending communications with someone suddenly and without explanation) interviewers and recruiters—ghosting of candidates by sometimes those very same interviewers and recruiters is a shocking problem in today’s job market.

It’s hard to imagine this is happening at all—given the incredible demand for talent and historically low unemployment—but it does! I speak with candidates all day long and I hear the doubt in their voice when scheduling follow-up calls with employers and discussing next steps. Far too many have been “ghosted” by recruiters and most never even receive a response from the positions they apply to. We also talk with hiring managers desperate to hire qualified people who complain about the lack of candidates.

Where does this ghosting disconnect come from?

Let’s start with the obvious—your reputation and your company’s reputation. It’s a small, incredibly interconnected world and candidates talk. Social media outlets and sites like Glassdoor are full of disappointed job-seekers who never heard back from a recruiter or interviewer. This has a negative effect on your ability to attract top talent in the future.  Net promoter scores drop and filling open positions just gets more difficult.  Most importantly, you’re missing out on some amazing people. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting two such people recently and their stories are sad but—spoiler alert—both end happily.

A tale of two ghosted applicants

The first is a recent transplant to the Las Vegas market who had responded to more than ONE THOUSAND job postings during an eight-month time frame.  How many callbacks, emails, or responses of any kind did she receive? ZERO! After spending some time getting to know her Digital Marketing skills and relevant experience, we found a role for her almost immediately.  And that’s the point…a simple returned phone call generated a terrific discussion which led to a series of in-person interviews and voila…an end to the ghosting and the start of a new career.

My second, and favorite story, involves a Quality Assurance Engineer who took two years off to ease her young kids into school. Their family established a routine, ensured the kids were adjusting well, and then decided to venture back into the job market. SIX HUNDRED job inquiries yielded, yep—you guessed it—ZERO responses. On paper, this candidate looked amazing. I ran her background by a trusted client and VP of Engineering, and he was very impressed; he just didn’t have any openings. After a few calls and interviews, she was in front of one of the top places to work in Las Vegas (and one of our clients). This company had lost their QA Lead and was in a major bind, with their go-live date inching closer and closer. The new-hire started shortly after her first interview and the gratitude has been nothing short of humbling—from all sides! Our client sent rave reviews about her performance and, later that same day, our candidate’s husband called me with his appreciation—and an invitation to dinner at their house!

When the alternative is happy customers, happy candidates and better business—why does candidate ghosting continue to happen?

First, under-staffed/over-worked human resources departments simply can’t keep up. Talent acquisition and hiring is crammed in between HR issues, meetings and day-to-day duties.

Second, today’s Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) need improvement to ensure each candidate is properly and consistently reviewed. A client of ours reached out to a candidate who was in the company’s ATS from 3 years ago with no notes, no resume—nothing! This candidate delivered results that, according to the CEO, had more positive impact than any other event or person in the company’s 100+ year history. And he was sitting—waiting—in the system all along.

Finally, the myth of the “perfect candidate” gets in the way of hiring very capable and completely amazing people. If you find someone who is 80-85% of the way to “perfect”—just go for it! Reach out, start a conversation and remember to officially conclude the conversation too—no ghosting!

The next time you add a new position, promote someone, or lose an employee and need to hire, remember, nothing happens until you reach out and start a conversation. Just make sure to conclude the conversation and don’t leave anyone hanging! Otherwise, hiring the next time might not be so easy.

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