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Have you ever abruptly disappeared from the lives of job applicants after they’ve submitted their resume, had a phone interview, or visited your company in person? If so, you have officially “ghosted” your applicants, a concept borrowed from the oft-cut-throat dating scene, where ghosting is as pervasive as it is confusing.

Like a stood-up suitor waiting at the end of a bar—solo—there are no phone calls, texts, or emails to let your hopeful candidate know where he stands. So far as he knows, you’re just running a few minutes behind.

Unrequited feelings are the worst, in love and in hiring. So is ghosting candidates.

Vanishing Vs. Conversing

In the dating world, ghosting happens frequently and usually out of nowhere—at least for one of the daters involved. When one party stops feeling it, the prevailing protocol is to—poof—vanish rather than have a mildly un-fun conversation. Ghosting is without a doubt poor relationship behavior, but it’s not just a dater’s conundrum.

In the business world, recruiters, hiring managers, and other HR personnel give job applicants the silent treatment all the time, with no consideration for the implications to reputation or employer brand. As if nothing is at stake, the employer goes radio silent, giving the hopeful job seeker no notification or feedback.

This may not seem to be a big deal if no personal contact has been made, but the moment a recruiter sends an email, picks up the phone, or invites a candidate in for an interview, the stakes get higher and applicant ghosting becomes more and more inappropriate, not to mention damaging.

The Silence Dimension

According to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), employers are not required to acknowledge job applications. However, SHRM also points out, it’s only common courtesy to do so. (If someone asked to take you out, wouldn’t you respond, whether interested or not?) The no-response technique comes across robotic and impersonal at best and plain rude at worst.

Unfortunately, whether they’re too busy, have too many applicants to screen, or don’t think manners apply when it comes to hiring, too many employers have no problem ghosting applicants, even when the effect is robotic, impersonal, and rude.

7 Reasons to Stop Ghosting Job Applicants

  1. The job market is too competitive to not care about the candidate experience. When word spreads you are a pro-ghosting employer, it’ll make it much more difficult to attract top talent in today’s extremely competitive job market.
  2. Qualified candidates are hard to come by (especially in certain fields like tech); don’t risk turning them off. A Change the Equation skills survey revealed that 97 percent of CEO respondents believe that the skills gap is a real problem, with 62 percent claiming to have trouble finding qualified job applicants with technical (STEM) knowledge.
  3. Taking the time to follow-up on job applicants ensures that employers are more carefully considering the reasons for applicant rejection. Surveys indicate supervisors spend 17 percent of their time dealing with bad hires, which cost companies significantly. Avoid bad hires by carefully considering why you screen candidates in and out.
  4. Ghosted job applicants can blast their bad experiences across social media and other channels, which can seriously damage your social recruiting efforts.
  5. A company’s reputation hinges on its actions and behaviors. Simply put, ghosting is bad behavior. Your behavior directly impacts its reputation and employer brand.
  6. Job applicants could be current or potential customers, and are likely to be neither once ghosted.
  7. Should you decide down the road that a ghosted job applicant may actually be a good candidate, the bad impression is already embedded in the candidate experience.

Boost the Candidate Experience with Communication

Politeness and respect can go a long way toward protecting the reputation of your company. Not to mention, keeping job applicants informed may also differentiate you as an employer who respects its candidates as much as its employees.

Here are some simple ways to provide a better candidate experience with transparency and open communications, which are also customizable workflows in Jazz and other recruiting software:

  • If they’ve submitted an application: Send a short, non-robotic rejection email that also thanks the person for submitting an application.
  • If they’ve been phone screened: Send a personalized email that thanks them for their application and offers a few high-level explanations for the decision.
  • If they’ve come in for an interview: Call the job applicant with your decision and give them an opportunity to ask questions.
  • If there is a delay in the stated timeline: Let the job applicant know the current status by email or a quick call.
  • If you’re definitely interested: Don’t let a top candidate slip away because they don’t realize you’re that into them. Follow up with the job applicant at every stage of the recruitment process.
  • If you may be interested in the future: Let the candidate know by email or phone call that you will keep their application on file. Your courtesy will help keep you in their good graces, now and later.

READ THIS NEXT: The Cardinal Sins of Job Candidate Communication

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