While your business has felt at least some of the hiring ups and downs surrounding the pandemic, things Twenty-eight percent of job seekers say they’ve “ghosted” an employer — up 56% from 2019. From cutting off communication early in the vetting process to skipping interviews without warning to failing to show up on day one, candidate ghosting has become increasingly problematic, with 76% of employers saying they’ve been ghosted in the past year.

With millions of open jobs spanning virtually every sector, organizations are being pushed to compete for top talent, coming to the table with higher wages, enhanced flexibility, hiring incentives, and quicker hiring decisions, just to gain an edge.

A ghostly trend

  • 76% of employers say they’ve been ghosted in the past 12 months.
  • 28% of job seekers say they’ve ghosted an employer versus 18% in 2019.
  • 77% of job seekers have been ghosted by an employer since March 2020, and 10% have been ghosted after a verbal offer was made.

Source: Indeed, Employer Ghosting: A Troubling Workplace Trend, February 2021.

While ghosting may seem like a minor inconvenience, when candidates end communication, don’t show up for interviews or even skip out on their first day of work, it could signal a bigger issue within your organization. For example, it may indicate that candidates don’t feel connected to your team, your organization or the role. Instead of communicating that they aren’t interested in the opportunity, they ghost.

Beyond that, though, ghosting can have a profound impact on efficiency at all levels of the recruiting and hiring process. With 20-50% of candidates skipping out on interviews, your team may be wasting a significant amount of time vetting less-than-interested candidates and, later, waiting for them to materialize for interviews.

No-shows also affect productivity. The simple act of pausing work can cause sharp declines in efficiency and productivity. On average, it takes about 25 minutes to return to a previous task after being disrupted. A fruitful interview can compensate for this loss in productivity, but time spent waiting for a no-show is merely time wasted.

Ghosting and the pandemic

Ghosting isn’t a new trend — the phenomenon was on the rise before the COVID-19 pandemic, according to this 2019 Indeed survey, which noted that both job seekers and employers were fueling the trend. And the problem has gotten worse: nearly half of job seekers acknowledge that employers are, likely, being ghosted more now than ever.

To combat ghosting, your team should implement measures to curb no-shows at every phase of the recruitment and hiring process.That starts with improved communications between hiring teams and candidates — specifically, personalized touches paired with automated messaging. Keep in mind that, without a “face” behind your organization, candidates may be more inclined to ghost. By introducing a human touch to the process — such as a quick video check-in, phone call or personalized email — candidates may be more likely to contact your team if they decide to drop out of the hiring process.

Check your communication style 

It’s also important to consider how you’re communicating – and confirming – next steps with candidates. The majority of Americans don’t answer calls from unknown numbers, and 14% say they don’t check voicemails. Even email is falling out of favor: 85% of smartphone users say they prefer mobile messages to emails and calls.

Depending on previous candidate engagement, integrating text messaging may be a simple way to curb some ghosting. With 90% of people opening texts within three minutes — and texting having five times the open rate and eight times the response rate of email — this communication shift should increase the odds that candidates will read critical messages.

Although texting is fast becoming a go-to communications tool among HR professionals, be sure to acquaint yourself with texting etiquette before unleashing your staff’s thumbs. SHRM offers these guidelines:

  1. Get permission from recipients first. Don’t send unsolicited text messages to prospective candidates.
  2. Keep messages short. Texting is best used for automated notifications, such as sharing logistical information like interview times and locations, or for asking quick follow-up questions. Use emails or phone calls for lengthier communications.
  3. Keep it professional. Resist the temptation to include emojis or clever abbreviations in texts to job seekers. Remember, your team’s texts and other communications should consistently reflect and uphold the brand.

Be flexible 

Another potential ghosting solution: offer candidates flexible scheduling, including evenings and weekend time slots. By striving to accommodate candidates’ schedules, job seekers may be more likely to move ahead in the process, even if their current weekday schedules don’t allow for in-person interviews.

Given the increase in remote work and the desire for flexibility in time and location, members of your HR team may be open to shifting their schedules to conduct these interviews. For example, a team member might prefer to start work later (one or two days a week) in exchange for conducting after-hours candidate check-ins.

Virtual interviews are also a good option for busting some ghosts, even if your team has already returned to the office. Forty-five percent of job seekers say being able to interview from anywhere is appealing, and 37% say they feel less intimidated at the prospect of interviewing remotely.
Ultimately, it’s about putting yourself in a candidate’s shoes. What would you want from a recruiter and hiring manager right now? What would make a business stand out from the competition and make you want to move toward an offer? Those engagement tactics are good next steps to help curb ghosting.