Have you ever been ghosted during a job search? Or are you guilty of ghosting an applicant? According to Google, “ghosting” is the practice of ending a personal relationship with someone by suddenly and without explanation withdrawing from all communication. Since a good portion of the hiring process happens online these days, it can seem easy to just not reply to an email or application if you get busy, but managing communications has actually become more important than ever in the hiring process.
Think about it. During a candidate’s journey to a new job, they can experience many highs or lows. From the moment they hit send on an online application, what happens to them next is up to the employer. Usually, an automated email confirms the receipt of the application, then if qualified, you may reach out to the candidate with a direct email or phone call to discuss the next steps in your hiring process. This seems to be the point at which the ghosting begins. What are you and your organization doing to ENGAGE once the application is submitted?
Let’s say that an applicant does catch your eye. The screening process typically begins with a few scheduling emails resulting in a phone interview and the focus then shifts through various phases of in-person/onsite interviews. At every step of this process, you must keep engaging. Extended periods of radio silence from your organization can be interpreted as disinterest. Even if your hiring process takes weeks or months, regular communication with a candidate keeps them interested in your organization. Wondering what you can talk about if you don’t have a progress report? Plan a series of themed emails with interesting talking points that keep your organization front in their mind.
If the applicant isn’t what you are looking for in the role, remember that they are waiting to hear back from you. They want to know if you are still interested and also, if you are not. Applicants appreciate closure so that they can move on mentally and begin to focus on other job openings, even others within your company. As a courtesy to the applicant, let them know once you have decided to pass on their resume. Ghosting the applicant keeps them frustrated and can result in negative feelings towards your organization because they feel ignored. A simple email stating that you have decided to pursue other candidates is all it takes to engage with an applicant.
Let’s turn now to the candidate that accepts your employment offer and sets a start date. Many hiring managers are so relieved when the offer is accepted, they feel the hiring process is complete. Not so. You actually must continue to engage them. In tight job markets where candidates apply for several jobs at the same time and can receive multiple job offers at a time, how do you keep them from reconsidering and deciding to go with another job? Chances are that even if the applicant has stopped their job search after accepting your offer, their prior efforts are in still in play. They could still hear from other companies that they may have previously submitted resumes to and that’s not something you can control or stop. Ask yourself, “Are those other companies talking to this candidate more than we are?”
What can you do to keep talent and stop losing candidates? The key is to keep engaging. Don’t waste the time you’ve invested in them. Commit to bringing them into the company with thoughtful communications. For example, during the “Honeymoon” period, or the two-three weeks that pass between the offer acceptance and the start date, send follow up emails. These would be similar to the series of emails you’ve sent during the interview process; giving the new hire things to look forward to. These follow-ups can be pre-planned, brief and even automated, but it’s important to stay authentic in the process. Here are a few email ideas that won’t take too much time to prepare and still fit the bill for interesting and genuine engagement.
- Give them a peek at company culture with links to social media posts, company updates or news.
- Places to eat around the office location, even offer a gift card for a meal there.
- Provide info on what to expect the first week/day, keep it informal and fun.
- Testimonials from co-workers – what are their favorite things about working at the company?
- Highlight a recent win, achievement or project the department received.
- Customize content based on information you may have learned in the interview, such as a candidate’s motivators. You could call or email them something directly related to professional growth, community involvement,
or work/life balance, etc.
The goal is to keep a new hire’s interest level high so that they stay engaged in your organization. If they don’t hear from you after the offer is accepted, there is room for second thoughts about competing offers and they may even rescind yours. By establishing a pattern of engagement, you can ensure a positive candidate experience and guard against candidate loss.
- Keep recruiting even after the offer has been accepted, don’t lose them in the “honeymoon period.
- Make it easy…Plan a series of themed emails with interesting talking points that keep engagement levels high and most importantly your organization front of mind.
- If you ghost an applicant at any point in the hiring process, it leaves room for them to have doubts about working at your organization.