Why so many recruiters are ‘ghosting’ job applicants

When you’ve gone to the trouble of applying for a job, it can be very hurtful and demoralising when you don’t hear back from the recruiter.

There could, however, be a multitude of reasons for this.

Julie Bishop, founder of Job Hop dream job consultancy, says that employer and recruiter ghosting in the job world is bigger than anyone can even imagine. “Employers are not qualifying applicants. Therefore, they get bombarded by candidates that aren’t suitable for the job role. These candidates receive an automated response to say someone will be in touch shortly, but then they never hear anything ever again,” she notes.

Employers can also sometimes forget that candidates are also consumers, and ghost them without thinking about the consequences, says Bishop. “A candidate who has been ghosted will never want to become a customer after a bad experience, and they’ll probably tell all their connections on social media to take their business elsewhere,” she warns.

Jonny Gifford, research advisor for the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), says that clear and effective communication between recruiters and potential employees is crucial. Recruiters have to make sure they manage a candidate’s applications from the outset, says Gifford. “For example, if an employer posts a job advertisement online and knows there will be hundreds of applications as a result, they should add some information in the job description along the lines of: ‘Due to the number of applications, only successful applications will be contacted,’” he notes. “Not only does this manage expectations, it ensures the company’s HR/recruitment function maintains a professional reputation with all potential employees.”

Bishop says many recruiters are fire-fighting and trying to fill positions quickly because they have a high turnover but that it, ultimately, comes down to company culture. “If they have a bad company culture and people are leaving every week, they don’t care who they ghost as long as they can get the position filled quickly,” she explains. “A company with a good culture, however, wouldn’t have that problem because they would always plan ahead. They would understand the power of building a community to cherry pick from and they’d have a good employee referral scheme in place which works because like attracts like.” Such an organisation makes the whole recruitment process enjoyable so that even unsuccessful candidates go away feeling positive about the company. “An employer with a good company culture knows that even if a candidate is unsuccessful the first time, it doesn’t mean they’ll be unsuccessful the second time,” Bishop notes.

Some organisations, however, have not adapted to the ways technology has evolved in recent years. “They are oblivious to the power of social media and are clueless when you tell them that a bad recruitment experience can be talked about on various social mediums with the ability to reach millions. What companies forget is they have to protect their employer brand, that message is just as important as the message they give out to customers,” says Bishop.

Such recruiters need thorough training and to work alongside their marketing department, she advises.

Another recruiter I spoke with, who wished to remain anonymous, said it was often down to ineffective HR departments. “Sometimes internal HR teams can really get in the way of things and shut you down even if you put forward a perfect candidate,” he says. “They may be willing to agree exactly the same terms and conditions with other recruitment agencies on the Preferred Supplier List, but be reluctant to add another piece of paperwork to their own internal processes.”  This can, he says, get in the way of the business hiring the right person, especially in a candidate-short market, which is where a lot of businesses are finding them themselves in this growing economy.

Bishop says, however, that the tables are turning on employers. “Candidates have been treated badly too many times and now they are the ones ghosting employers,” she comments. “A typical scenario is that a conversation is struck up between an applicant and an employer. The applicant is then asked to send in a CV, but because other savvy companies know they can tap into candidate’s profiles online, they don’t wait for a CV, they just snap the good ones up. Many candidates won’t bother to let the original employer know that they weren’t fast enough, so the employer is just left wondering what happened.”

Georgina Fuller is an award winning freelance journalist and editor.

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