Ignoring (ghosting) candidates hurts your Employer Brand

Posted by Fiona Horton on Jul 15, 2019 2:44:24 PM
Fiona Horton
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And here's why:

Anyone who's been on the dating scene may recognise this: The date went well, you both laughed, the food was good, the conversation better, and you were pretty sure you’re a match made in heaven. You think it’s time to organise another date, but suddenly they’re unresponsive to your messages and calls. They vanish off the face of the earth. You've no idea where it all went wrong. What could have you done to avoid the outcome? The answer is silence and doubt. The only solace you have, is that anyone who ghosts people like that probably isn’t worth your time anyway.

It’s a story that isn’t unique to dating. The same happens in recruitment. Every day, candidates spend hours on applications, interview prepping, and spending time during the interview itself. But after they’ve given it their all, the candidate gets nothing back. Not even an email or a phone call. They can probably guess they didn’t get the job, but are left with no reason. Their only comfort is that a company who doesn’t bother letting people know they didn’t get the job, probably isn’t worth working for anyway.

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For years, this practice was the norm for lots of companies. Unemployment rates were higher, and new, qualified candidates were easy to find. What’s a needle in a haystack anyway? Save yourself some time, and only contact the successful candidates many thought (and still think).

But here’s the problem. It's 2019. And whilst this approach will save you time, it only really serves to damage your Employer Brand, here’s why:

HR is also your PR

You might not consider HR/Recruitment as natural press relations people. But in some ways, they have the same skills. Day in and day out you're contacting new people and responding to enquiries in a professional and friendly manner. Both PR and Recruitment knows an important fact - that a bad reputation is a bad reputation. And once gained, a bad reputation is difficult to shift. You're representatives of your company and seek to make the company look and sound professional to a large number of people.

But there's one way in which the company can easily earn itself a poor reputation, and that’s by ignoring potential candidates. If a company ignored customer’s they’d be out of business. Not only consumers rule out that company for future business, angry customers share their negative experiences, damaging the companies brand along with it. Common sense right? So why treat candidates that way?

Why ignore a candidate when they've put time and effort into an application. To them, this could be a life changing opportunity, and a non-response will likely generate a negative emotional reaction. This is something your company doesn’t want in an increasingly social world. Candidates now share their negative experience with friends, colleagues, and online – especially on websites such as Glassdoor and social media.

Do I need to explain why this is a terrible situation further?

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The current recruitment market simply won’t allow it as pipelines are smaller

Obviously you can’t hire everyone you interview. You have a limited number of vacancies, or they might not have the right skills for the job. But that doesn’t mean every failed candidate is a bad fit for your company in perpetuity. Many of the people who have not been successful today, might be a great fit for a different department, or maybe the same position in a couple of years. Some companies even ask candidates if they can keep their information in the knowledge that the person would be perfect for a role five or six months down the line. A good HR person doesn’t just post job adverts, they are also managing a talent pipeline.

But many pipelines are getting smaller. More competition, smaller pools of candidates, and more technical job roles mean you’re more likely to encounter the same people again and again. Not responding to, and thus annoying these candidates effectively removes them from the candidate pipeline. Next time, will that candidate bother applying for another role, remembering that last time, the same company couldn’t be bothered keeping them updated? Probably not.

Even if they don’t go on to work for you, some industries are incestuous. A candidate might go on to work for customers, competitors, or vendors, having people in these positions with a poor perception of your company is big disadvantage going on intro the future.

In short, ghosting candidates might save you five minutes, but it’ll cause you hour long hangovers in the future. So what can you do to make sure you keep candidates in the loop:

Make it part of every day practice. Let candidates know if they’ve not been successful, and give feedback if they request it. They might use that feedback to pick up some additional skills and come back to you better prepared.

Build it into your ATS. When you mark a candidate as unsuccessful, have the system automatically let them know.

In short treat people the way you'd like to be treated. It's good for them and good for your Employer Brand.

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