She’s just not that into you 🤷‍


Why recruiters are getting ghosted — and what to do about it

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Last weekend, LinkedIn’s editor at large posted an article that’s gone viral in the HR community on the newest scourge hitting employers: ghosting.

Ghosting, the Irish goodbye, the French exit — whatever your preferred term, quietly exiting without a word of warning has spread beyond the social sphere and entered the workplace.

As someone who’s in regular contact with recruiters, a specialised, demanding, and often thankless role, it’s clear they’re aghast at the amount of ghosting from candidates and even those who’ve accepted job offers.

But hold up — haven’t employers brought this on themselves? I’ve been ghosted by multiple companies every time I’ve gone through a career change or move. In fact, as a candidate, I’d come to view it as the norm.

Just recently, I was chatting with a friend in the process of job hunting. She was being simultaneously ghosted by three companies and quickly losing confidence in herself. One day, she and the recruiters would be chatting amicably, the next, soul-crushing radio silence. Seems like now, recruiters are getting a taste of their own medicine and realizing it’s not so pleasant.

At the end of the day, people won’t remember what you said or did, they will remember how you made them feel.
— Maya Angelou

I’m not the first to make this observation. It seems this is a pretty hot topic for all of us who’ve been in the opposite seat of being ghosted by a potential employer, or left to wallow in the black hole between signing a contract and coming onboard.

It’s all Tinder now

The causes leading to this phenomena are pretty clear. Thanks to technology, it’s never been easier to apply to dozens of jobs at once. Just as the rise of the Common App in the US has led to huge increases in college applications, the ease of online applications means job seekers no longer have to be as selective about where, or to how many, places they apply.

Add a tight labor market and a general increase in using technology for things that once required face to face relationships, and it’s no surprise people are choosing to silently fade into the background rather than reject potential employers outright.

There’s no such thing as a “blind date” with an employer anymore. Tools like GlassDoor, LinkedIn, and Blind make it easy for candidates to peer behind the curtain of an employer’s online presence and decide whether they want to swipe left or right. If job hunting 30 years ago was video matchmaking(laborious and awkward for everyone) today it’s Tinder.

And since people have been taught by employers that it’s okay, or at least common, to ghost during the interview process, they’re now doing the same.

How to avoid getting ghosted

If ghosting’s a two way street when it comes to recruiting and onboarding, then how do we fix it for both candidates and recruiters?

  1. Remember the tides will turn: First, we have to remember that the tides will turn. Candidates need to treat recruiters the way they want to be treated, and vice versa. Communication is key, and a buoyant labor market won’t last forever. Both parties need to treat each other with respect. A simple email or phone call will work wonders for your personal and employment brand.
  2. Cut your losses: Stop chasing candidates that aren’t into you! We’ve all seen the romcom where the guy or gal pines hopelessly over someone who’s never going to fall for them. If someone’s made up their mind they aren’t interested, aren’t you better off moving on?
  3. Focus on fewer, better: For those measuring success by the volume of candidates, ask yourself why. Isn’t fewer, better candidates a better outcome for any recruiting team? Put in the effort to attract not just any candidates, but the right candidates for the role and your company. As Jay-Z put it, “Either love me or leave me alone.”
  4. Get a makeover: Finally, do a bit of soul searching. Why aren’t people accepting your offers? What can you, or your company, do to make your employee experience offer more attractive? Have you asked people? Have you done anything about their responses? Are they being turned off by your careers site, your GlassDoor reviews, or something else? Find out and fix it!

Recruiting, dating, college applications, sales, partnerships: they’re all the same thing, relationships. You need to make people want you just as badly as you want them, and the way to do that is to listen to them, communicate with them, give and take in equal measures.