Written by Daniel Mason, VP EMEA, Visier

From Tinder to Teams, ghosting – described in the modern dating world as ‘when a potential date suddenly – and permanently – stops texting you back’ – has become surprisingly commonplace in the recruitment world as well. Of course, just like dating, it’s a door that swings both ways. But whether it’s an employer failing to let a candidate know they have gone with someone else for a role, or a candidate who suddenly stops responding mid-way through the recruitment process, both have the potential to cause a great deal of frustration, uncertainty and even distress.

More job opportunities have led to more employee ghosting

When it comes to ghosting, an interesting shift in the power balance has taken place over the last 18-24 months. With the pandemic causing many UK workers to reconsider/change their roles, job vacancies have skyrocketed, putting much more power into the hands of employees than ever before.

Consequently, and perhaps predictably, British employees have started behaving increasingly badly towards prospective employers. In fact, in a recent Visier study, 76% of Brits admitted that they have ghosted an employer in the last 18 months, despite over half (59%) having been ghosted themselves by employers in the past.

Interestingly, the more senior the role, the higher the chance of it happening. The figure rises as high as 95% amongst C-Suite respondents, where job opportunities are plentiful, and candidates are thin on the ground. By contrast, only 48% of entry-level employees have done the same, although the figure is still incredibly high given how many candidates there are at this level.

It should be pointed out that not all employee ghosting is bad. At the early stages of the hiring process, if it’s clear that a role is a bad fit then it can actually be a net positive for both parties involved. However, as the process progresses and employers start to invest more time and resources into potential candidates, having them suddenly disappear can be both costly and time consuming.

Employers must take action to stem the flow

So, what can employers do to minimise the chance of being ghosted? The first thing they should consider is changing or adjusting their hiring process. Making the right changes can help to attract and retain talent at all stages of the acquisition funnel, where a combination of regular communication and well managed expectations are key. Below are four tips to help employers do this:

Make the recruitment process personal: One of the best ways to reduce ghosting is by personalising the candidate experience from the very beginning of the process. Ways to do this range from simply addressing applicants by name in every communication sent, to including culture and hiring manager videos in new job descriptions.

Be clear: Setting expectations of the interview process and regularly providing opportunities for candidates to ask questions will help minimise misunderstandings or crossed wires at crucial points in the process that could lead to candidates losing interest.

Ask about timing: Understanding a candidate’s own journey and where they are in the interview process with other companies gives employers the chance to amend their own processes and timelines before it’s too late.

Update candidates often: Adopting strong systems that leverage automation in the appropriate parts of the recruitment process can keep potential employees more engaged overall. For example, texting or emailing candidates with updates at the beginning/end of every significant stage can go a long way towards stopping them from disappearing without warning.

A more data-driven approach is also critical to success

Ineffective recruitment software and data management throughout the recruitment process can have a big impact on the amount of employee ghosting that occurs as well. For instance, if the software being used doesn’t properly support the volume of applications being managed, individual applications can quickly start to fall through the cracks, leaving candidates in the dark. It can also result in poor communication between internal parties involved in the recruitment process, further adding to the confusion.

Instead, employers should look to leverage data wherever possible, to help them understand what “good” looks like from a talent acquisition metrics perspective. Embedding people data into every stage of the recruitment and employee engagement process can also help recruitment teams gain the attention of potential candidates and retain them more effectively. For example, by using data to highlight at which stage a job seeker is most likely to leave the recruitment process, more emphasis can be placed on improving the overall experience based on what the data says.

Employee ghosting may not be a new phenomenon in the recruitment sector, but a powerful combination of market factors over the last two years, spurred on by the pandemic, has made it much more prevalent than it used to be. Furthermore, the impact of it can be incredibly damaging if not addressed. Combining personalised communication with a more data-driven approach to recruitment can help to minimise the prospects of it happening and ensure employers secure more of the candidates they want in a highly competitive recruitment landscape.