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Getting Ghosted? Create a Memorable Candidate Experience

Getting Ghosted? Create a Memorable Candidate Experience

by Matt Mosser

Story Highlights

  • Employers should evaluate recruitment from a candidate's perspective
  • Communication is crucial to keeping talent on the hook
  • Manager-driven hiring processes are more engaging for candidates

The war for talent is reaching a fever pitch due to a perfect storm that's created a lopsided, candidate-driven market.

For both candidates and talent acquisition teams, this wild job market has ushered in more "ghosting" than ever before. It's never been more important that your candidate experience is on point. Candidates have high expectations and plenty of options in this job seekers market.

The result is an alarmingly prevalent ghosting problem -- with both employers and candidates vanishing from the hiring process without warning. According to a study by Indeed, 28% of candidates say they ghosted an employer during 2020, up from 18% in 2019. Indeed also found that 77% of candidates say they've been ghosted by prospective employers since the onset of the pandemic in 2020.

While these numbers are discouraging, companies that focus on their employment brand and reaffirm their commitment to providing an exceptional candidate experience can mitigate the ghosting problem.

To start, ask yourself a simple question: What does it feel like to be recruited by your organization? An inspiring and memorable candidate experience creates passionate brand advocates -- even if the process doesn't end in employment. On the other hand, a subpar candidate experience will make your brand vulnerable to ghosting.

Here are three keys to a world-class candidate experience that not only attracts top-tier talent but also prevents ghosting.

1. Great Recruiters

No talent acquisition strategy can succeed without excellent recruiters. The best recruiters:

  • show a genuine interest in candidates as people with distinct interests, experiences and strengths
  • provide a streamlined experience to respect candidates' time
  • demystify the role and establish realistic expectations for the job, the interview process and the work culture
  • communicate their deep, authentic investment in the review process

Companies that position recruiters as administrative and process managers who are buried in HR responsibilities will struggle to engage candidates through recruiting.

Great recruiters also help candidates envision themselves in your work culture, painting a picture of the "moments that matter" in your employee experience -- which drives engagement. They are brand champions who display warmth and address candidates' needs.

The most engaging recruiters also have leadership skills and presence. Candidates are more likely to feel valued and respected when recruiters are credible decision-makers who have influence and answers. To this end, leaders should select naturally gifted recruiters and develop their leadership strengths.

2. Fast, Clear, Frequent Communication That Is On-Brand

Communication failures are at the core of the ghosting problem. Set clear expectations for candidates on what they will experience in your hiring process. Frequent updates for applicants and internal accountability for response times are essential. Consistent and streamlined messaging shows candidates that you value their application -- and that your work culture is efficient and effective. A simple check-in email might mean the difference between getting ghosted or gaining a star. Don't go more than 48 hours without a touchpoint.

Employers of choice thoughtfully design every interaction along their candidate journey, from mobile recruitment to social media posts. Candidates want to be in the know, so find creative ways to explain what candidates can expect in a way that highlights your brand.

Further, communications should reflect your one-of-a-kind culture, purpose and values. The best workplaces don't just tell employees the value their workplace offers, they show them -- for instance, with employee testimonials about the development opportunities they receive.

With a comprehensive communication strategy, you can convey your unique employee value proposition and prevent future stars from disappearing without a trace.

3. Managers Who Are Fully Invested

For leaders and managers, there is nothing more important than bringing stars into the organization. Candidates feel like they're a priority when leaders are at the helm of the hiring process.

When it's time to meet candidates, leaders and managers should roll out the red carpet with a professional, individualized process that deepens candidates' engagement with your brand. Whether in-person or virtual, the interview should be an elevated experience that makes candidates feel seen, heard and fully attended to -- like they belong in your culture.

Hiring managers should come prepared and be thorough, answering candidates' questions and setting clear expectations for next steps. When hiring managers value and honor candidates as individuals, they can keep them engaged throughout the process.

The best workplaces don't just tell employees the value their workplace offers, they show them -- for instance, with employee testimonials about the development opportunities they receive.

After an offer, hiring managers and recruiters should check in regularly: Candidates who feel ignored might opt for another opportunity. And when candidates are not the right fit, hiring managers can gain a future brand ambassador by providing helpful feedback and a rejection process that's positive.

Of course, leaders can't control every detail of their candidate experience. But they can get the most important moments right to keep ghosting at bay and promote brand ambassadorship.

When your workplace cares for candidates, you show the world that you genuinely value people. In turn, your employment brand will earn interest -- and commitment -- from the best candidates.

Need help crafting your employment brand and candidate experience? Contact Gallup to learn more about how we are helping organizations like yours create and communicate an employment brand and employee value proposition that draw perfect-fit job candidates.

Create an organization that attracts -- and keeps -- top talent.


Matt Mosser is Chief Human Resources Officer at Gallup.

Bailey Nelson contributed to this article.

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