Ghostbusting

Neil Armstrong, Chief Commercial Officer, Tribepad makes an industry-wide call to pledge to end ghosting.

Everyone knows that a bad candidate experience can have a detrimental effect on brands, whether directly or through a recruitment agency. With anecdotal evidence suggesting that ghosting is on the rise, we took a closer look at the extent of the problem. We commissioned independent research to discover what’s going on. The results shocked us and led to the launch of a new industry-wide campaign to end ghosting in recruitment.

Two-thirds of job applicants (65%) in the UK have been ghosted in the course of their job search and almost all of them (94%) said it left them with a negative perception of the company they applied to. More startlingly, 86% said their experience of being ghosted left them feeling down and 43% said it took weeks, or even months, to rebuild and move on.

Our industry continues to be put under huge pressure as the job market contracts and expands at an incredible pace. How can we help ease the strain on HR professionals while taking care of candidates at the same time? We know it’s possible. One retail giant saw an unimaginable surge of applicants as the pandemic really took hold. At the height of the outbreak, the company received 300 job applications every minute. How did they do that without ignoring any of the one million job seekers that applied?

Many businesses simply aren’t set up to handle this scale of influx. A great many people in recruitment simply don’t have the time and resources to nurture each individual that applies for a job. But the ghosting of candidates has far reaching implications. It damages brand reputations, is detrimental to the mental health of our talent pool and it puts more pressure on an industry that’s already struggling to cope.

Software can play a part in the solution and, in an increasingly digital world, finding effective, automated processes can help ease the demands on recruiters and hiring managers. It’s not the whole story though. These issues need addressing at a policy level, regardless of the size of the company.
Life Science People is a specialist recruitment consultancy that works with pharma and healthcare companies. Co-founder Dan Byrne shares his agency view on ghosting in recruitment.

“The recruitment industry has quite a bad reputation and recruiters have a certain stigma about them that is hard to shift,” he says. “There is an old school ‘wolf of wall street’ sales image that suggests to clients that there is an unprofessional vibe about the office. On top of this, there is the taboo subject of ‘ghosting’. Ghosting in recruitment is easily the single largest contributor to the poor image that recruiters have. And it must stop.

“Ghosting, for those that don’t know, is when a recruiter, or a hiring manager, fails to give a candidate a decision from either an application or an interview. For some, less professional agencies, ghosting is common practice. No one likes having awkward conversations. Instead of biting the bullet and having that uncomfortable rejection conversation, recruiters simply do not answer the phone and ignore emails. It seems to most that this wouldn’t be the end of the world but that is incorrect.

“Imagine you are a candidate and you have been called up by this bubbly, excited recruiter telling you they have the perfect job for you. You go home and tell your wife/husband/partner, spend the next few weeks investing time and interviewing for this new and exciting role. You are fully bought into the job, the company and the managers and because of all the excitement, you mentally check out of your current role and become disengaged. You have your final round interview and then… silence. You try to get hold of the recruiter and get nothing. For the next week you call and email and no reply. Finally, you give up and quietly accept your fate at your existing employer, whom you have become completely uninterested in, with a huge loss of self-confidence.

“Ghosting can have an extremely negative effect on people’s lives and mental health. It also gives recruiters a terrible reputation. Some candidates are ghosted multiple times by different brands, eventually leading to them wanting nothing to do with recruitment agents and ending their search.

“The effect on the candidates is obvious, but what are the effects on your business? The thing that people forget is these rejected candidates, no matter how junior, will one day be managers. They also work and socialise with people in the same vertical market and will be very forthcoming about their poor experiences with an agent. This will not be just the agent, but the agency. One poor candidate experience can lead the entire agency brand to be damaged beyond repair in some circles and if multiple candidates in the same industry have the same treatment, the company will be forever known for poor candidate experience, forcing reductions in fees.

“Our agency is trying to break the mould in the healthcare recruitment market. Luckily, our founding team shares the same outlook on candidate experience which includes a non-acceptance policy on ghosting. As we had the opportunity to create this company from scratch and be different to the typical recruitment agencies, we decided to put a huge emphasis on candidate and client experience from the very start. We did this by creating a culture that asks “how would you like your experience to be?”.

“Right from the word go we drill into our people and clients that candidate experience is paramount. Throughout the interview process, we give clear examples of what is not acceptable and how we treat our stakeholders. We run training courses for all new hires, from graduates to team leaders, to make sure that everything we do has the candidate experience in mind. We have even gone as far as auditing our CRM for live candidates that are in the process with us that have had no communication that week. This has become a great warning tool for preventing “accidental or unintentional ghosting”. We face up to uncomfortable conversations and handle rejections with empathy.
“Having these values and processes in place has definitely given us a different culture to previous agencies that I have worked in. We, as a management team, carry our existing reputation and will continue to show the importance of treating all candidates with respect. I personally hope that all agencies will follow suit, as our industry is so important to the global economy. With just a bit more thought and effort, we could get rid of the stigma and be proud to be in recruitment. I encourage everyone in the recruitment industry to join the campaign and pledge to #EndGhosting.”

As the lines between work and life become ever more blurred, so too does the divide between professional and personal. And as the wellbeing industry takes centre stage, it’s more crucial than ever to treat people like people. To end ghosting for good is a huge task but, we think, a crucial one. Who’s with us?

Readers can learn more and find examples and resources to help at end-ghosting.com

 

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