How to Make A Superior Candidate Experience

Valerie is currently the CEO and owner of Valerie Martinelli Consulting, LLC. in which she offers Life, Leadership, and Career coaching for women as well as various Management and Human Resource consulting services such as program development, management, and evaluation, human resource audits, and employee handbook and other policy developments.

Frequently I will hear my clients complain about the same thing- when they send in a resume or application and never heard back from a potential employer. Ghosting is a phenomenon that has taken over hiring and recruiting. For those of you that are unclear, ghosting is the practice of ending a relationship by suddenly withdrawing from all means of communication without an explanation. Oftentimes in HR, it happens when a hiring manager or recruiter states that they will get back to you, post-interview or to schedule the next interview- and suddenly without warning, disappears, and you never hear from them again.

Ghosting is highly unproductive for both the candidate and the organization. However, most of us have come to deal with it throughout society. After all, it happens in the dating world and in even in just making friends. We don’t want to hurt someone’s feelings and so we just disappear, rather than having to deal with the emotions of the other person or the repercussions of our actions.

Ghosting and Your Job Search

The second most common reason candidates abandon job applications is because of ghosting.  As originally cited by The Ladders, 23 percent have been ghosted by another company. And while candidates seem to accept it, they don’t like it, either. 30 percent believe that is reasonable while 38 percent believe that it is unreasonable, and 21 percent has called it “very unreasonable”, according to the same article. How do companies feel about it? Only 23 percent have cited it as reasonable while 33 percent have called it unreasonable and a whopping 35 percent have called it unreasonable.

The data on the timing is interesting as well. 48 percent of candidates think it’s acceptable for companies to ghost in the early stages while 36 percent of companies think it’s acceptable for candidates to do so. 29 percent of candidates believe that is acceptable to do so at the middle stages and an unbelievable 36 percent of companies find it acceptable. This starts to decrease heading into the final stages as 14 percent of candidates and 20 percent of organizations find it acceptable.

Ghosting is highly unproductive for both the candidate and the organization.
VALERIE MARTINELLI

I think that this data begs the questions as to why it is acceptable at all. For years, it has been acceptable for employers to ghost candidates in the middle of the recruitment process without even considering if and how this gives them a bad reputation with other job seekers. But, what about job seekers who also have begun to ghost employers even after accepting an offer? Let’s take a deeper look at the problem and what can be done to correct it to keep both the company and the candidate engaged throughout this process.

The Problem

The problem is that the job market is so hot that is has become easier to stop showing up than to say “no, no thank you”. However, this is a double-edged sword if you ask most candidates. Some of them feel justified in their actions because companies do it without repercussion. Job searching also has become more impersonal and casual because there is an abundance of tools at our fingertips now more than ever. While technology has made our lives easier, it also has made the recruitment process more impersonal. There really isn’t a substitute for a talented recruiter who knows how to engage candidates throughout the entire process with their professionalism and a compelling offer and the know-how to create an experience centered around the candidate, not the job. Many of my job-seeking clients have also expressed that they feel more compelled to respond when they are corresponding with a human being rather than a robot.

Engagement is Key

So, how can we cut down on ghosting for both the organization and the candidate? Engagement and transparency. Ghosting by candidates takes its toll on recruiting and hiring managers who are already dealing with prolonged budget cycles, sales, and operations. It doesn’t make the behavior okay by either party.

If an organization is seeking to keep the behavior in check, below are some ideas:

  • Set your standards: Communicate clearly and honestly that you are both investing time and energy into this process and the expectation is to maintain the commitment throughout. Express the need for open, honest conversations even if they are difficult. Also, mentioning whether the candidate is a referral may be helpful in making them feel accountable for their actions.
  • Maintain engagement: Candidates will lose interest if they are consistently engaged throughout the process, based on the assumption that a recruiter or a hiring manager changed their mind. Explain the different steps of your process and provide preset times for each step, including when an offer may be made. This keeps you accountable and provides transparency to the process for the candidate.
  • Close any loops: Most teams typically experience ghosting on the front-end. However, if you are experiencing it on the back-end then you must acknowledge it. This is when it becomes necessary to close the loop with the candidate by getting feedback. Send a friendly email recognizing that even though they stepped out of the process, you would appreciate their feedback to help improve your organization’s candidate experience. Also, it advisable to leave the door open for them.
  • Candidates are not commodities: Unfortunately, there are too many recruiters that try to squeeze in candidates. There are also others who treat candidates like they’re a dime a dozen and it doesn’t matter how long the process takes or if they get keep them in the loop. Always take the time to be sure that your interactions with a candidate are welcoming, personalized and demonstrate the benefits your company offers for their unique situation.

Ghosting is a behavior that is likely here to stay because it has already become well engrained in our society. However, companies, recruiters, and hiring managers can each do something about it by maintaining their focus on the candidate experience through communication and engagement. It is also important to remember that if organizations fail to put candidates first, social media can be utilized to provide negative reviews and brutally honest feedback.

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