2021 has certainly been a strange year.
Since the pandemic, employees are leaving the workforce or switching jobs in droves in what some economists have dubbed the ‘Great Resignation’. With uncertainty creeping around every corner, it is not a shock that candidates feel hesitant before accepting a new job role. This uncertainty has led to another common theme this year – ghosting. Certainly not new, but a survey by Indeed has found that ghosting has grown more popular over the last year with job seekers.
Let us set the scene…
The candidate’s CV is exactly what you’ve been looking for. During your first meeting you are impressed with their knowledge and experience, and their personality seems to fit perfectly with the culture of the business. Everything just clicks and you are ready to make your next quality hire into the team.
Then it all falls apart.
Since the interview you’ve tried reaching out, but nothing. Your emails and voicemails have gone unanswered and you’re left wondering what exactly has went wrong.
Welcome to the frustrating world of ghosting.
What is ghosting?
Ghosting is a phenomenon mainly applied to the dating world, and more specifically online dating. It refers to a situation where a person abruptly cuts off contacts with someone with no prior warning or explanation for doing so. When the person who has been “ghosted” reaches out to re-initiate contact or gain closure, they are met with a stone wall of silence.
This same phenomenon is becoming increasingly common in the world of recruitment, whether you are a candidate looking for a new job, an employer trying to make a new appointment into your team, or even a recruitment consultant acting on behalf of both. People can “ghost” at any stage of the recruitment process, from initial contact, interview stage or even by not showing up on the first day with zero explanation or contact.
Why does it happen?
Over the last 16 months during the Covid-19 pandemic, most of us have spent a significant portion of our time stuck indoors at home with very little meaningful human contact, which has led to a dramatic rise in the use of technology for meeting family, friends and even strangers. There are now more open jobs than there are available candidates and therefore the job seeker is in the driver’s seat right now with talented, desirable candidates being faced with multiple job offers at once, perhaps giving some the sense that that they can simply choose the job they want and ignore responding to offers from others. Many people would also rather avoid confrontation and awkwardness than deliver bad news, so rather than risk an uncomfortable conversation that they don’t know how to approach, they simply don’t respond and hope that it just ‘goes away’.
Instead of ghosting a recruiter or employer, do this instead:
Ghosting can burn bridges in your professional life. LinkedIn Editor in Chief pointed out to CBS that “It’s easier just to stop showing up than to say ‘no’ or, ‘Thank you for reaching out to me about this job I don’t actually want anymore” and that recruiters then remember who ghosted them. Roth also warned that recruiters and hirers are saying they will never forget the people who ghosted them and that they will take that from job to job.
You never know who you will end up working with in the future, who you will be sitting next to at your next conference or who will be sitting across from you at an interview, so this type of faux pas can easily come back to haunt you in the future. On the other side of this, if you’re an employer who has met several people for a position at your business and have decided to hire one and let the others wonder what has happened with no formal rejection, it can potentially tarnish your company name with a whole host of potential candidates. People talk, and bad news spreads faster and further than good news.
If there is a professional relationship that you no longer want to continue, whether it’s because your feelings have changed or you have just changed your mind about the company or person, it is beneficial to respond to your recruiter’s messages and to keep them updated on your current situation.
Instead of simply avoiding a potentially negative conversation, candidates should learn how to say “no” in a way that doesn’t burn any bridges, yet clearly gets their point of view across. Candidates and recruiters have a two-way relationship based on communication. Even if the news is difficult to share or you have simply decided that you no longer want to pursue an opportunity, simply letting your recruiter know what is happening by picking up the phone, sending an email or having a chat on video is a much better route to maintaining a strong relationship in the future.
Finally, don’t hold grudges! If you have been “ghosted” in the past by an employer, try not to hold on to that feeling of rejection which could lead to perpetuating the same habit.
I’d love to hear about other people’s experiences with professional ghosting.
Are you a candidate that has been left dangling after interviewing for a role? Are you a hiring manager that thought you had met with the perfect person for the job, only to be left disappointed when they suddenly and without warning dropped off the face of the earth?
How about my recruitment contacts; have you been let down badly by a candidate in the past and then had them reach out to you for assistance down the line? Did this stop you from ever working with them again, or did you decide to give them a second chance?
It would be great to start a discussion of this in the comments, so feel free to post your experiences.