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Which has more ghosts? Halloween or Hiring?

Ghosts keeps haunting the hiring process!

Applicant’s lament:

“Half the time I never hear back from organizations I apply to. I get that they ‘receive a lot of applications’, but at least acknowledge that I am one of them. Honestly, I barely pay attention to what I’m applying for anymore because I know I won’t hear back.

But it is far worse when everything is going so well – when they bring me in multiple times, set up multiple phone calls and the conversations are going great – and then, nothing. Weeks later, I may receive an automated ‘Thank you but no thank you’, and that’s if I’m lucky. 

How is it okay to treat me like that? It’s so unprofessional.”

Employer’s moan: 

“I spend so much time sifting through the mountain of applicants, scheduling calls, coordinating calendars to organize on-sites, checking references, putting together all of the paperwork for the background check and offer letters. And yet, I can’t tell you how many times candidates just don’t show up – for their interview, or their assessment, or for the first day on the job. No phone calls or messages, no apologies, nothing.

It costs so much time and energy, and now I am forced to over hire to compensate for the fact that some of the hires will never make it to the first day on the job. 

How is it okay to behave like that? It’s so unprofessional.”

The haunting of hiring

This Halloween season has come to an end, but in hiring the haunting never seem to end. 

Employers routinely ghost candidates. The excuses are plentiful, too busy, too many applicants, too many priorities getting in the way of responding to every applicant that takes the time to come onsite, let alone apply, etc. But, to that candidate who was excited about the opportunity or took time off work to go to the interview, those excuses are nothing more than rattling in the attic. It is disrespectful and unprofessional and will likely change the applicant’s perspective of the organization. 

Candidates routinely ghost employers with equally plentiful excuses; too busy, better opportunity somewhere else, forgot they even applied to that one, etc. But to the employer who spent time screening hundreds of candidates, scheduling those phone calls, or putting together the offer, they just see it as being left in the dark. It is disrespectful and unprofessional and leaves a shadow of resentment that could come right back to haunt the candidate in the future when jobs are less plentiful. 

Shifting seasons from ghosts to thanks

Luckily, after a little ghostly fun, the seasons shift to a time of bounty and gratitude. Let hiring take a page out of the American holiday calendar and drop the ghosts for gratitude. 

Employers, quit the excuses, and express gratitude to all candidates, for without them (even the ones you don’t select), you would not have the opportunity to grow.

  • Thank every candidate for applying. Automation is fine, just don’t leave the <name here> in the response letter.

  • For those screened out early (pre-phone or onsite interview), inform them within a reasonable time that they were not selected. Automation is fine, just keep the message respectful and in engaging.

  • For those not selected after the phone / onsite interview, take the time to call or send a personalized message.

  • Above all else – no more ghosting!

Applicants, stop being ‘that person’ and express gratitude to all employers, for without them (even the ones you don’t select), you would not have an opportunity to work.

  • Inform the organization as soon as you are no longer interested – a quick email or text will do. 

  • Keep it short, time relevant (i.e. send the ‘Thank you but no thank you’ message before the scheduled interview), and be respectful. 

  • Above all else – no more ghosting!

Bonus tip: 

Employers, for roles that have heavy abandonment or ghosting rates, remove as many barriers as you can by arming your candidates with a very fast way to opt out.  

  • Provide ‘No longer interested’ links or buttons in emails.

  • Provide a ‘text xyz if no longer interested’ in text messages.

  • Inform candidates what they should do if they are no longer interested. You could even help lower ghosting with a simple ask “Please let us know why you are considering another offer, there may be something we can do”.

Let’s keep the ghosts to Halloween and scary movies and embrace the gratefulness and respect that we all deserve. 

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