Ghosting - A Scary Recruitment Trend

Do you remember when you liked someone so much that you would sit by your telephone all day waiting for it to ring? The telephone was attached to a wire so if you left the room you could possibly miss the call. Then your mother would get a call and spend an hour chatting to your aunt from overseas and you would never know if the person you were waiting for had even attempted to call you. If you did manage to speak then you would arrange to meet, and both parties would show up at the agreed venue. One thing would lead to another, a second meeting would be arranged and drinks would become dinner. If you decided that this was not the person for you, chances are you would need to say it face to face over said dinner. Never nice I know but at least you would have a sense of closure, people are hardwired to complete cycles, ambiguity doesn’t sit well with humans. I clearly remember being dumped over the telephone, I was mortified, imagine not even having the nerve to tell me in person. Looking back, at least he told me.

Times have changed, and I blame technology. Most people I know don’t own a landline anymore, everything is done on mobile and calls have been replaced by instant messaging. With so many quick exchanges and far more means of communicating, communication has changed considerably. Most people I know barely make it to the drinks stage never mind the actual dinner anymore. Of course, there are benefits too, you can actually leave your house and Aunt Mary’s call can no longer influence the outcome of your future anymore. But with so many methods in which to communicate and access to a greater pool of suitors (think Facebook, Tinder, etc.), I wonder if we are missing out.

Being dumped over telephone was the precursor to this new phenomenon called ghosting. Yes, imagine, ghosting is an actual word nowadays. The dictionary describes it as the practice of ending a personal relationship with someone by suddenly and without explanation withdrawing from all communication. Ghosting to millennials is what the dreaded telephone call was to generation X.

Recruitment often imitates dating and ghosting is becoming a regular fixture in the job market. We now see it every day and it is not unique to our market. Recruiters and hiring managers in different countries are all grappling with it and it is frustrating to say the least but it is not one sided because candidates are being ghosted too.

It’s a bit of a vicious cycle. Candidates complain that they have applied for jobs and attended interviews and then been blanked by the recruiter. Often the recruiter has consistently followed up with the client and the client has gone AWOL, sometimes the candidate attends the interview and then disappears into thin air.

Once upon a time, recruiters would advertise for a role and people would apply. We didn’t have sophisticated databases or advertising platforms, so the pool of candidates was far smaller. It was easier to contact people because there were less people to contact. The only way to reach out would have been via telephone call and face to face interviews. Hiring managers would meet face to face and offers or rejections would be extended — closure would be had. Now we have access to larger pools of candidates and sheer volume makes it impossible to contact each person. Job seekers often do not have the time to attend interviews with a recruiter and prefer a text or instant message with the date and time of interview. Due to time and distance constraints, recruiters do not meet their candidates and when you don’t meet a person face to face then it is far easier to blank them. This works both ways.

When I asked candidates, recruiters and hiring managers what they thought of this trend, they all admitted that they have been on the giving and receiving end. Almost like a karmic thing. People! This is not OK. Where does it start and how does it end? The problem with ghosting is that once you have been ghosted it validates becoming a ghoster. Once this begins, the cycle perpetuates and soon enough, nobody will speak to anyone anymore.

Cyprus is a small market and at one point, everyone will be looking for a new job. Word does travel. Candidates who do not respond will find it difficult to apply for the next role. Recruiters who ghost candidates will develop a bad reputation in the market and companies that do not give feedback will be perceived as unreliable.

So how do we combat this? Nobody wants to be the bearer of bad news, but nobody wants to be known as the ghost who couldn’t be bothered either. Perhaps recruiters could start by mentioning that only shortlisted candidates will be contacted. Once the desired candidates are selected by the recruiter, a telephone call or face to face interview could be arranged. If the candidate attends an interview with the company, the company can provide feedback on the actual interview. A detailed answer with valid points would be ideal as this would provide clarity but a positive or negative answer will suffice. The recruiter will relay this information and the candidate will accept or reject. Job done, cycle complete. If everyone sticks to this method then ghosting will be obsolete and recruitment can once again become the professional service it is intended to be.

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