Ghosting – a recruitment nightmare for HR and how to make it disappear

There’s a worrying trend creeping into recruitment that’s showing no signs of disappearing anytime soon and is causing HR professionals a major headache.

Ghosting – a recruitment nightmare for HR and how to make it disappear


There’s a worrying trend creeping into recruitment that’s showing no signs of disappearing anytime soon and is causing HR professionals a major headache.

Ghosting, a term once exclusively used in the dating world to describe a person who unexpectedly ceases communication with a potential suitor with no previous warning, is fast filtering into the workplace much to the annoyance and frustration of HR professionals up and down the country.

Organisations are reporting applicants not turning up for job interviews, successful candidates failing to arrive for their first day and, in some cases, employees quitting their job on the spot with no prior warning or reason.

Needless to say, this trend results in wasted money and time invested in the recruitment process, and in cases where organisations have appointed a candidate, only to be ghosted, left confronted with heavy workloads and no one to do it.

Emma Bullen, HR expert at MHR believes the trend of ghosting will become more commonplace during the recruitment process. She says: “Ghosting is now part and parcel of the recruitment process and organisations need to be aware of it and make every effort to minimise its impact if they do fall victim to this practice.

“There are a number of reasons which may explain the rise of ghosting. Firstly, the market for talent is very competitive at the moment meaning candidates are applying for multiple jobs at the same time with the best applicants sometimes receiving multiple offers. Rather than dealing with a potentially awkward situation and letting people down, to many it’s just easier to stay quiet and hope they eventually get the message.

“We’re also seeing a boom in uncommitted job hunting where applicants are intrigued to see what jobs are out there without being serious about accepting an offer. Then, there is the situation of counteroffers, where candidates who already have jobs receive a salary increase to stay with their current employer.

“Personally, I think ghosting is a by-product of the digital world we live in today. People are so used to faceless contact and acting anonymously online that I think they assume it is acceptable behaviour, when to many it is deemed rude and disrespectful.

“The whole process can be extremely frustrating for HR professionals but I think the trend for ghosting will only increase as many industries are experiencing acute skills shortages at present and the best talent is in high demand.

With the practice of ghosting unlikely to vanish anytime soon, Emma Bullen shares her top tips on how organisations can attract the best talent and reduce the likelihood of being a victim of ghosting.

1. Maintain regular communication with potential candidates. If you’re unable to make contact with a candidate after a few attempts and think you’re being ghosted, then put in place a contingency plan and consider other applicants.

2. Speed up your recruitment process. Don’t leave candidates waiting otherwise they will go elsewhere. In today’s digital world, people are used to having instantaneous access to information and making instant decisions. The faster your recruitment process is the quicker candidates can assess whether they are a right match.

3. Recruit from within. Don’t ignore the gems right under your nose. Searching your existing talent pool for upcoming talent promotes employee loyalty, strengthens your organisation’s culture and values, and saves time and money compared with searching externally. Being recognised as an employer that recruits from within is a big selling point to candidates as it shows that you will invest in their career development.

4. Get your digital house in order. Use social media and modern methods of communication which resonate with today’s candidates and make your organisation attractive. First impressions count so make sure your website looks slick and your social media accounts are up to date.

5. Enhance your on-boarding process. Use videos and interactive elements to showcase what’s great about your organisation and get new candidates to buy into your culture at the earliest opportunity.

6. Offer something different - These days, candidates expect more than just a decent salary. Consider offering a generous benefits package, in addition to the standard offering of pension contributions and private health insurance, that adds real value to their lives. Flexible working options, for example, show candidates that you care about their lives outside of work.

7. Create a vibrant culture. What does your organisation stand for? Why do you do what you do? What values drive your success? These are the types of questions candidates now ask. Having a strong business culture ensures new employees buy into your organisation’s direction and will be ready to jump on board.

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