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What is job ghosting? 4 ways to prevent it


Imagine you’ve invested months recruiting the perfect candidate for your company. Come their first day, that new employee doesn’t show up for work. That seemingly perfect candidate is ghosting a job. Your job.

What is job ghosting? 

Ghosting is a phenomenon more commonly seen in the dating world but fast becoming a problem for businesses. The no-notice break in communications can happen at any step of the recruiting process. 

Companies across the country are reporting the rise in job candidates’ ghosting employers. Workers have even disappeared once hired, quitting a job without notice.

In a competitive labor market what can you do to reduce the chances of ghosting at work? Here are some steps you can take to keep candidates engaged at every stage of the hiring process, from outreach to onboarding.

1. Be authentic in your outreach

People with in-demand skills can be particular about job opportunities, especially when they can easily research your company. It’s important to demonstrate how your company and this specific job should be their top choice.

Communicate and establish expectations upfront from the first contact throughout the entire process. Establish a main point of contact – whether that be you or a hiring manager.

As you determine if they’re a good fit for an interview, try to discover where they are in the job searching process. Investing the time to get to know the candidate will increase your chances of learning where your company stands in the field of employers looking to hire this person. 

It’s also your opportunity to let the job seeker know that if they find another job, they should notify you rather than consider ghosting.

2. Be agile when interviewing

Gone are the days where HR professionals could talk to many applicants in a lengthy vetting process before deciding on the best choice. In today’s market, you need to move quickly to hire choosy top candidates

Throughout the application process, keep people informed about where they stand to improve their experience. Even if not selected for a specific position, a positive experience with your company could result in a referral or possibly hiring the person for another position in your company.

Agility also applies to everyone in your business – from you, as a leader, to hiring managers and HR professionals. Educate decision-makers on the labor market for a particular position, so everyone understands how competitive it is. 

Give hiring managers fact-based reasons to move quickly and establish a clear decision timeline can set expectations on the need to interview fewer high-quality candidates on a much tighter schedule.

3. Focus on the candidate’s career goals

Rather than talking only about how the person could perform the job, think about approaching the job from the candidate’s perceptive. 

Try to avoid wiggle room when discussing compensation. Be upfront on the salary range for the position. If there’s a gap, remember to sell the job as a complete lifestyle package.

Ask the candidate what they’re looking for and address the items on their list. Think about which benefits you can offer that would emphasize a desirable job fit for the candidate, such as:

  • Ability to work remotely
  • Company culture that respects work-life balance
  • Flexibility in selecting benefits 
  • Office location
  • Pet-friendly workplace policy 
  • Free parking 

Once you know your top candidate’s wish list, match it whenever possible to avoid the potential of dissatisfied employees ghosting jobs.

4. Follow through on your follow up

The interviews may be over, but the hiring process isn’t a success until the new employee shows signs of settling in to your company. 

Tell candidates when they can expect to hear from you and remember to offer alternate ways to communicate with them. Let potential hires know if you or the hiring manager will be on vacation. 

Once the job offer is accepted, begin integrating them into the company immediately. High-touch pre-boarding and onboarding are among the most effective ways to curb new-hire ghosting. Remember to:

  • Follow up on any questions the new hire may have.
  • Confirm the details of what they can expect in their first days.
  • Be ready with space, equipment and support the person will need when they show up.
  • Connect the new hire with someone to help them navigate your workplace.

Recruiters and hiring staff may be too busy to communicate this much, but it’s an investment worth making, especially with hard-to-hire people who demonstrate desired capabilities.

Spot the warning signs

There are multiple reasons why job seekers ghost an employer. While high demand for talent may be a top reason, other warning signs indicate someone might disappear. 

  • Candidates often juggle multiple interviews and job offers at the same time and don’t want to expend the time and effort to notify the employer once they’ve lost interest or changed their mind.
  • In order to avoid conflict, some people might ghost rather than engage in a potentially disagreeable discussion.
  • Others realize late in the process that the position or company is not a good fit after all. 

Job ghosting can be disruptive across the board for your company.

  • Recruiter fees
  • Time lost in following up with candidates
  • Time and cost of starting over the search for a replacement
  • Lost productivity in delaying critical work

There might be other ways your company is repelling top talent, from a lack of a compelling company brand to uninviting company culture.

Focus on communication, a mutual job fit and efficient follow through. Otherwise, you risk the possibility of starting over in the hiring process.

If you know the top candidate is under a time constraint, the knowledge could motivate managers to decide sooner. Hiring managers should be prepared to:

  • Limit the number of interview rounds.
  • Shorten the vetting process.
  • Provide candidates feedback as soon as possible after the interview.

However, for certain high-demand positions, you can still experience ghosting. The best defense is to be prepared to move quickly. 

You’ve been ghosted – what now?

Once you’ve been ghosted, develop creative solutions and strategic alternatives, such as: 

  • Overbook interviews to make up for interviewees who may not show up.
  • Increase passive recruiting of highly qualified individuals who aren’t actively looking for a new job but who might be convinced to make a change.
  • Consider mass-hiring events if you’re in a high-volume industry, like service or retail.
  • Recruit continuously to offset the impact of job ghosting.

So, what is job ghosting? At its essence, it’s a failure to communicate. While not all businesses can provide high-touch recruiting, it’s still essential for everyone involved in hiring to communicate effectively with potential and new employees to prevent no-shows.

To learn more about talent retention strategies, download our complimentary e-book: How to build a top-notch workforce that accelerates your business