While the concept originated in the dating scene, ghosting — the act of going dark with no explanation — has become widespread in professional realms. Candidates are suddenly dropping out of recruitment pipelines without a word, simply refusing to respond to recruiters’ and employers’ messages.
Perhaps this development should not be surprising. Unemployment is low and employment opportunities are abundant, with US job openings hitting a record high of 7.3 million this past December. With many open jobs and so few skilled employees to fill them, it’s a job seeker’s market.
Though this is great news for job seekers, recruiters are sick of being ghosted. Unfortunately, it doesn’t take much more than a small hiccup for potential employees to take their talents elsewhere. An insufficiently engaging recruitment process or an overly complicated application can drive candidates away in droves.
In light of this trend, recruiters must reevaluate their strategies. Recruiters and employers must deliver user-friendly job application experiences to start candidates off on the right foot and reduce the risk of ghosting.
Here are three steps you can take to improve your application process:
1. Get With the Times
Everything today is streamlined and digital — so why isn’t your recruiting process? If an applicant has to fill out redundant online applications — or, worse, download and fill out a PDF application — their interest will likely be lost. Your recruitment process should be as user-friendly as your consumer-facing activities are. Your career site should be easy to navigate, and your job applications should be a breeze.
Once a candidate has submitted their application, don’t make them wait too long to hear back. It’s not uncommon for applicants to go dark simply because the company took too long to respond. Evaluate your candidates’ typical waiting periods and consider where another point of contact may be appropriate. Could you trigger automatic emails throughout the process to inform the applicant of where they stand at a given moment? Additional contact points will keep the applicant informed and engaged, reducing the risk of ghosting.
2. Personalize the Application Experience
Candidates want to know about a prospective employer’s culture and community. Most people look for a sense of kinship in their work environments. They want to know they will be working with people who care about them, people who will ask how their weekends went. They shy away from companies who do not give off this community-driven vibe in the recruiting process.
To show candidates your company does encourage camaraderie, add a personal touch to the application process. For example, if your company hosts regular social gatherings, draw attention to these activities during the interview process.
Additionally, when you reach out to candidates, don’t be so cold and mechanical. Start your messages with friendly, personalized greetings to make candidates feel seen, heard, and valued. For example, if during the phone interview the applicant mentions recently getting a new puppy, ask how their puppy is doing in your follow-up email. The candidate will appreciate the effort to personalize their experience, and it only took you an extra 30 seconds.
There are also tech options, such as social media, that you can use to facilitate intra-organizational interaction, perhaps even interaction between candidates and current employees. These solutions can go a long way in keeping the feeling of community alive well beyond the candidate’s transition from applicant to new hire.
3. Ask Current Employees Why They Joined the Company
The old adage rings true: When in doubt, go to the source. If it’s not clear why applicants are ghosting you — or even why they decide to apply at your organization in the first place — ask your employees for some insight.
Circulate questionnaires among current employees asking about their application experiences and the recruiting process as a whole. What did they like or dislike? What do they think your team could do better in the future? This feedback will allow your team to uncover what is actually important to your current employees and, by extension, to your future employees as well. You can then leverage this feedback to create a recruitment process that is more aligned with what your candidates want.
An amazing recruiting strategy with a strong rate of conversion takes time to build. Job seekers are looking for perfect fits, which means small inconveniences can potentially cause them to abandon the hiring process. The most effective way to increase conversions is to build a recruiting process with the applicant’s perspective in mind. How will they interact and engage with the team, the technology, and the organization as a whole? Does the company present itself in the best light? Would a candidate want to be associated with the company? Use these questions to guide your recruiting strategy and ward off ghosting.
Jeremy Reymer is founder and CEO of DriverReach.