Image for blog post Got Ghosted? A Guide for Recruiters 
Image for blog post Got Ghosted? A Guide for Recruiters 
Austin Fraser

Got Ghosted? A Guide for Recruiters 

James Lafferty

Being a leader in the recruitment industry, we often talk about trends in the marketplace. One of the observations was that ghosting is on the rise. When we ask ourselves “why?”, we should really ask, what could we have done differently?

No matter what industry you work in, markets change. Sometimes, frequently and fast. For many, by the time you have heard about what the market is doing then you’re already one step behind (Gamestop anyone?).

Recruitment is no different. The market flows between candidate shortages to job shortages. It's never in perfect equilibrium and it’s why recruitment companies are here. In March 2020 we saw the quickest market change since the Banking crisis in 2007. We went from hundreds of open requirements to very few. We went from spending our time and energy headhunting the perfect candidate to being overwhelmed with people being let go, furloughed, or worried about job security.

I want to offer some advice to recruiters out there for both staffing companies and internal teams. Let's talk about getting ghosted.

According to a recent Indeed report (via the Staffing Industry Analysts)

  • 77% of job seekers have been ghosted by a prospective employer

  • 76% of employers have been ghosted in the last year (up from 57% in 2019)

You’d think that this practice may be a thing of the past in a job-short market, but unfortunately, no shows, radio silence, or offer back-outs are even more common now than before the COVID. Working remotely, candidates have time to apply to more jobs and also don't have to book their third “doctor's appointment” of the month to attend interviews. You can get a high-paying job and not leave the house to get dressed.

Candidates looking for work are applying and interviewing at more companies now to ensure job security and to pick what is best for them. Recruiters may not be asking those difficult questions. You know, the ones you don't want to hear the answer to, like:

  • How does this opportunity compare to your others?

  • How much money would your current employer need to offer you in order to keep you?

  • If you were counter-offered with a promotion would you stay at your current job?

  • Why do you want to leave your current firm?

  • Why do you want this job?

Without asking these questions, we can bury our heads in the sand and pretend everything is going to be JUST FINE. I will only hear what I want to hear, not what I need to.

So while you might think they’re 100% committed, in reality, they have another role or five on the backburner – and could back out at any time.

So how can you protect yourself from backouts right now?

Red flags:

There are likely to be red flags that indicate the candidate is as committed as they claim to be. Have you asked them what they like about the company you represent? Do they call you back when you try and contact them? What questions have they asked? As recruiters, we like to talk….A LOT. But the art of communication is a two-way street. If someone is looking to make a move, they must have so many questions about the team, projects, company goals, benefits…you get the idea.

Don’t be scared to pull a candidate from the process if you’re spotting any red flags. The recruitment sector has a bad enough reputation for people trying to make a quick buck. Think about the long-term impact if you place someone and they leave without fulfilling the expectations. Everyone loses.

Ask tough questions and probe the answers

To discover if your candidate is a back-out risk, you need to dig into their reason for applying to your job in the first place. The more you dig into a candidate’s motivation, the better chance you have of finding out how they feel about the role.

You need to do this throughout the entire process, not just at the start, so you can detect if they have another job opportunity as early as possible. This is okay, we aren't sports agents trying to sell our superstars to the highest bidder but ensure we can please everyone throughout the process and there are no last-minute surprises!

Selling the opportunity.

Candidates might be telling you they’re 100% committed to your job but in reality, there are lots of opportunities out there. In order to sell the opportunity, you first need to find out the needs or wishlist for their dream job. If your opportunity is not a match or you can't sell back to this. You may be wasting everyone's time.

Move quickly

You know the saying - time kills deals! The best recruiters educate all hiring managers and people looking for jobs on that perfect process. From a candidate's perspective, it sets great expectations on the company and shows they have their shit together. From the company's perspective, you get the best candidates and limit the risk of getting into a bidding war with other companies.

Of course, ghosting goes both ways, as frustrating as it may be for a candidate to no-show an interview, think of it as the world balancing out like so many recruiters don't give candidates feedback after attending interviews. If we all communicate effectively then we can all get what we want and together skip off happily into the sunset.

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