Ghost Busters: Eliminate Candidate Ghosting with These 3 Tips


Does this situation sound familiar? Your recruiters find a great candidate for one of your open positions. You bring them in for an interview, believe that they’re just as excited about the position as you are about them and then…nothing. Right before you’re about to offer them the role, or even after you’ve made your offer, they go radio silent. While frustrating, candidate dropping, or “ghosting” as it’s been modernly coined, happens to businesses across the board, and especially in industries where candidates have options.

When LinkedIn published a viral story this year about the candidate ghosting phenomenon, companies everywhere let out a collective “Whew it’s not just us”. So, what can businesses do to prevent top candidates disappearing from the recruitment process? Go back to the basics with relationship-building.

Relationships are Central to Recruiting

Modern recruiting practices and pressure to fill open positions as fast as possible has automated certain processes for recruiters, effectively cutting out many inefficiencies. In doing so, they’ve also inadvertently lessened the opportunity for in-depth relationship-building.

For example, some candidates are sent automated emails with links to complete a competency quiz before they speak with a hiring manager. Other times, the first point of contact is made via email and interviews are coordinated using a scheduling tool.

While these are great tools and proof of the ingenuity within the recruitment industry, as with any innovation, they need to be balanced out. If the importance of human-to-human contact within the recruiting process is overlooked, it can be difficult for candidates to truly identify and connect with organizations.

If your organization is falling victim to candidate ghosting, try these three tactics:

1)     Bring Phone Calls Back to Life

In today’s market, the idea that younger generations prefer more passive means of communication, such as texts and emails, over good old-fashioned phone calls is widely accepted. To cater to this preference, companies are vigilant about making digital connections with their candidates.

However, in my years of experience in the staffing industry, I’ve found that texts or emails are simply not enough to build meaningful candidate relationships. Effective recruiting requires establishing more than just interest in the position, but a commitment from the candidate. The best way to ensure a candidate is committed? Show that you’re committed to them. By picking up the phone and having meaningful conversations about how the recruitment process is going for them, what concerns they may have and how you can help – you’ll do more than move them along the process, you’ll build a relationship you both can feel good about.

2)     Get Candidates Excited

At a recent conference I attended this past summer, one of the speakers referenced a survey they conducted asking candidates to name the firm and the recruiter that placed them in their last position. Even though the firm and recruiter played a big role in their career path, only a very small percentage of the people actually remembered their names. Why is this? All signs point to a disconnect between the level of relationship-building necessary to foster candidate commitment and the tactics used to achieve it.

Think of it this way. In the current labor climate where most companies are willing to go the extra mile to attract talent, you can’t rely on your competitive offer alone to seal the deal. Your candidates need to feel excited about your client’s mission. Ultimately, if you want your candidates to tell their friends, “I have this amazing opportunity with an innovative company that’s a game-changer in their industry” vs “I was offered a job, the company seems kind of boring but the pay is ok”, you need to add some pizzazz to your recruiting process.

3)     Get to Know the Individual, Not Just the Candidate

In the end, it’s important to remember the role you’re playing in your candidates’ lives, not just towards the success of your company. The job search process is an intimidating feat, perhaps even more so now that candidates have a plethora of options.

How will this position match my career goals? What will I learn? Is this a supportive and healthy environment? What offer should I go with? These are all questions that candidates are asking themselves and that you can preemptively answer for them. By taking the time to build a genuine candidate/recruiter relationship based on mutual trust and respect, you’ll be better positioned to cater the job offer to their unique needs and increase the chances they go with your position.

For example, if your standout candidate is a single parent with two-children, understand that they’d probably appreciate flexible work hours and offer that type of arrangement (if possible) before they ask – and just as importantly, make sure your client knows that too. When you’re in their corner, they’re more likely to be in yours.

Make an Impact

Every year, I run into individuals who I had interviewed over 20 years ago, and we’re able to look back on our interactions. We reflect with mutual appreciation that, just as I had an impact on their career, they had an impact on mine. Every candidate relationship I fostered strengthened my passion for the industry and belief that human connections should be prioritized at every stage of the recruitment process. Automation and other digital innovations should always be supported by a series of meaningful conversations where recruiters “sell” positions while simultaneously gaining a deep understanding of each candidate. In doing so, you’ll win candidates over and your recruiting process will be ghost free.

Are your candidate drop-off rates hindering your teams’ productivity? We’ll be ready to discuss how your company can really make candidates stick.


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