Mar 19, 2019

A Recruiter’s Perspective on Ghosting

Ghosting isn’t just for relationships. Candidates, employees, and even employers have been known to engage in this practice that leaves the other party high and dry.

While the current market is candidate-driven, the tides will eventually turn. You don’t want to be left on the other side of a burnt bridge when looking for that next position. Unprofessional behaviors will get around with the gossip of the workforce. It’s best, for both candidate and company, to adhere to long-standing expectations of the hiring and resigning processes.

Employee Ghosting

Ghosting can be indicative of an unpleasant company culture. If an employee feels that the easiest way to extricate themselves from a company is to simply stop showing up it proves that the lines of internal communication are blocked.

When an employee ghosts a company, it is a sign that they do not feel comfortable enough to initiate a conversation about quitting. This fear may indicate that management is closed off from its employees. It also shows that the employees, at their wit's end, have taken flight because they feel they have nothing left to gain from being an employee there.

While it is easy to blame ghosting on bad candidates or employees, that isn’t always the case. Companies should first look at improvements in their company culture and processes to make improvements. The goal should be to keep employees from wanting to leave.

Why do Candidates Ghost?

Employees aren’t the only ones who turn to ghosting to remove themselves from an uncomfortable situation. Candidates can be just as likely culprits. But candidate ghosting can indicate something entirely different than the ghosting of an employee.

If candidates are disappearing after being extended an employment offer or performing outstandingly well in an interview, the problem might not be them. It could be the company’s recruiting efforts.

Have you recently been ghosted by a prospect? Think back to the recruiting process. Did those involved in recruiting clearly communicate job expectations? Did the candidate have a timeline of the recruiting process?

Candidates might ghost if they felt the recruiting process was unprofessional or the process was too long or difficult. Maybe the length of time between the interview and the offer was extensive and the candidate accepted another position or lost interest altogether. Are lower-level prospective hires being sent through endless interviews that don’t contribute meaningfully to the selection process?

Just as employers don’t want to waste their time on ill-fitting employees, candidates don’t want to waste their time on potential employers giving them the runaround.

Candidates could have been thrown off by the company’s culture as well. How does your company present itself? Do your employees act friendly when they see an interviewee in the lobby? People, even when desperate, will avoid negative work environments. Give your company culture an audit and decide if changes need to be made to attract the best candidates.

How ghosting will come back to haunt you

Ghosting comes with its own set of consequences for candidates. It is important to think of the long term effects before you take the easy road out.

Common repercussions for employees who ghost are:

  • A nasty surprise come time for future reference checks. An employer you’ve ghosted is unlikely to give you a glowing review.
  • Side effects that arise through networking. You never know who knows who. However, if you leave a nasty impression by ghosting, you can be sure that the story will travel around their network.
  • A migration from candidate-driven markets to an employer-driven market that could bring your ghosting to an abrupt halt.

What professionals can do instead of ghosting

Professionals who are looking for ways to heal their reputation from previous ghosting behavior can benefit from making a conscious effort to eliminate these unprofessional habits altogether.

Step down from a position with your dignity and reputation intact by:

  • Having a tough conversation about the specifics of your departure. By explaining your side of the story with substance rather than silence you can keep the bridges you built while in that position from burning down upon your departure.
  • Discuss a transition plan that is mutually beneficial to both employee and employer. This will leave both parties feeling satisfied and keep them from feeling taken advantages of.
  • Let key individuals within your organization know about your departure from the company once a transition plan has been established. You don’t want to leave your team in a bind by making them feel as though they’ve been abandoned.

Bonus tip for candidates: If you know that you will be taken another position or moving along in your search, be sure to let the hiring team know that you’ve opted out of the position.

Let’s leave ghosting to the ghouls, here are some next steps:

Are you an employer who's been ghosted? Is your company culture an uphill battle? Are your employees suffering due to culture riffs, a stagnant team mentality, and ill-fitting hires? Check out our article on company culture development to learn how to inspire change in your team that will benefit your company’s bottom line.

When you’re ready to make a major hiring decision for a leadership team member or COO you will need the guidance of professionals who know how to avoid candidate ghosting. Kaplan Executive Search can guide you through the hiring process and help you to avoid losing top candidates during the search process. Our people first, process-driven approach to recruiting means that we can return diverse and qualified matches perfect for your company’s culture. Learn more about our proven hiring methodology.


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