‘Ghosting’ Job Candidates Are Frustrating Many Companies
Earlier this week, CNN reported a peculiar story from the business world, but it’s one that’s becoming more commonplace. As low unemployment drives a highly competitive U.S. job market, companies are finding and hiring job candidates who later disappear during the hiring process or don’t show up for the first day of work.
It can happen for a variety of reasons, but competition is a leading factor. Skilled and qualified job candidates are at a premium in the current labor market, and many decide at the last minute to take a better offer or opportunity.
In some cases, they’re professional about it and notify the company in advance or by declining an offer. However, in other cases, some firms have been “ghosted” with no explanation.
In the case of Jo Weech, a Washington-based recruiter, she found and planned to hire a highly skilled and experienced software engineer whose qualifications were so rare that she referred to the candidate as a “purple unicorn.”
However, after acing multiple interviews and a technical test, and after receiving top-secret security clearance for a federal contract, the candidate stopped returning calls, voicemails and texts. Weech wanted to hire her, but she was nowhere to be found.
Steve Lindner, CEO of employment firm the WorkPlace Group, told CNN that one candidate his firm hired “never arrived” on the first scheduled day of work. The company called, emailed and texted, but it never received a response. “It was complete job abandonment,” Lindner says. The company was eventually forced to send a formal letter terminating employment.
According to Wall Street Journal reporter Chip Cutter, incidents like these are becoming more commonplace in fields ranging from food service to finance. Hiring managers and recruiters are saying that a tightening job market and sustained labor shortage are contributing to a surge in such “ghosting” behavior.
It may seem unprofessional, but it often occurs because job candidates want to avoid potentially awkward conversations. As Dawn Fay, district president at Robert Half International told Cutter, “Candidates are winding up with multiple offers, and you can’t accept them all. Individuals just inherently don’t like conflict or disappointing people.”
In addition to the awkwardness factor many candidates have also never dealt with a job market this strong. The unemployment rate has been running at historical lows, and for the first time since the U.S. Department of Labor started tracking it in 2000, there have been more open jobs than unemployed workers. This means many professionals are facing something they have no prior experience in handling: saying “no” to jobs.
Moreover, they could be exhibiting behavior they’ve learned from employers. According to Peter Cappelli, a management professor and director of the Wharton Center for Human Resources, “I think they have learned it from the employers. Employers were notorious for never getting back to people, and only letting them know what was going on if it turned out they wanted them to go to the next step.”
Companies are trying to combat this trend by improving their hiring practices, being more strategic in their hiring and how many candidates they interview, and some are trying to build better relationships with job candidates.
At CareHere, a company that operates health and wellness centers across the U.S., the firm has increased its amount of contact with job candidates during the lead-up to their first day. It tries to establish more of a relationship and create a sense of obligation on the part of its new hires.
As Chief People Officer Jeremy Tolley told CNN, “That way, it’s not just some company they don’t know much about. They start to think: ‘If I don’t show up, I will let them down, I know they are expecting and preparing for me.'”
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