Ghost of candidates past

Susie IsphordingStrategic Talent ExecutivePosted December 11, 2019

Picture this, it’s 2015 and I’m actively swiping on Bumble. I swipe right on a guy I find visually appealing and we strike up a conversation. This is steady for about a week or so before we agree to meet for happy hour. The date is set and the location is secured, but right as the day draws near, I start to get cold feet. While this guy seemed exciting at first, other matches have been made and I’m curious to explore other opportunities. Since we haven’t technically met and I have no real commitment, I decide to pull a classic No Call, No Show. Ghosting, as the kids say. 

Fast forward to 2019, I’m actively recruiting top tech talent in Columbus. I meet a candidate for coffee, and we discuss a position my company is supporting where his background would be a great fit. Over the course of 2 months, I get him interviews and finally an offer; all the while having regular, open, and honest communication with each other. However, as the due date for the offer letter draws near, he starts to get cold feet. While this seemed exciting at first, other companies have seemingly reached out and he’s curious to explore. He pulls a classic No Call, No Show. In fact, my number was blocked on the day that we were scheduled to talk through the details of the offer. I have officially been Ghosted.  

Ghosting, coined in 2016, is when a person cuts off all communication with their friends, a person they’re dating, or acquaintance with zero warning or notice beforehand. While this practice started in the world of online dating, it has made its way into the recruiting sector as well. With a less than 1% unemployment rate in the Columbus IT market, it’s getting easier and easier for candidates to walk away from one offer to accept another, all while Ghosting recruiters and Hiring Managers with the same recklessness as I pulled in my Bumble days. 

It’s not just active job seekers. Recruiters often get the bad rap of ghosting candidates, too. So, why do we do it? Because giving difficult feedback is, well, difficult! During the entire life cycle of interviewing, candidates feel the need to praise the employer and recruiters feel the need to praise the candidate, all in the effort to get an offer. When it comes time to give bad news, we often forget how to do it tactfully and it can feel easier to just walk away. 

If you find yourself tempted to ghost, remember these 3 things: 

  1. Giving someone bad feedback, whether that means you’re declining an offer or telling someone they’re not getting an offer, should be done quickly. Rip off the band-aid. You’ll be surprised how quickly the sting goes away. 

  1. Bad feedback can be the best news you give someone all day! Telling a recruiter why you’re taking another job can help them understand the market better. Explaining why a hiring manager had reservations can help a candidate with their next interview. Feedback is a gift! 

  1. Columbus is a big city and a small market. Having a Ghosting reputation can actually come back to haunt you. 

Let’s all resolve to leave Ghosting in the past in 2020.

Susie Isphording Susie is a Strategic Account Executive at Agility Partners. Her recruiting specialties include project managers, scrum masters, product managers, and project leads.