17 Jul 2019

Ghosting in recruitment...



I originally had a think about Ghosting as a blog subject because a candidate had told me that she was convinced a couple of recruiters had 'ghosted' her or rather that she thought the roles were 'ghosts'.  I had to do a bit of research - as someone from Generation X, I'm not as au fait with some modern parlance.  So I discovered that Ghosting is originally from the dating realm - a practice when one partner suddenly goes quiet on a suitor after a period of communication or a couple of dates...a result of our tech driven, dispensable approach to romance.  Frankly there are several areas of recruitment where I actually think ghosting applies.  Interestingly I've seen ghostly behaviour from clients (employers), candidates and recruitment firms.   I thought I'd try and summarise my experiences as having done a bit of Googling, I think a lot of the stuff out there is just bored journalists trying to come up with stories.


Ghost Jobs:

As a bona fide recruiter....every role that I advertise or talk to candidates about is a real one.   Yes, really!  I am busy, really busy, I don't need to fabricate jobs to attract candidates, however, it would appear that some recruiters are not so busy and they perhaps do advertise false roles.  So I guess, this is the first example - a role which is advertised which doesn't really exist.  It's not good practice and I'd recommend that if you apply for a role online and you then speak to a recruiter who can't give you a strong role outline and tell you about the employer, then park it, and that relationship and move on. Trust your instinct. Do you think they are genuine?   I'm not sure how much of a 'thing' this is in recruitment, I'm sure that the recruiter would then go and dangle your CV in front of a few clients and see if they can speculatively get themselves some quick wins.  I can honestly say I've never done it. Never needed to...

I think perhaps more common is the phenomenon where you talk to a recruiter about a role....and then never hear from them again.  You might chase them, and just never hear back.  They won't accept your calls, don't respond to emails, it's as if you don't exist, never mind the job that you talked about.  To my mind, this isn't ghosting, it's just bad recruitment practice.    If I register a candidate, it means that at some point, I consider that I will be able to help find that person a job.  I may have current roles for them or it may be at some point in the future. The key is that I do recruitment by relationships. I communicate regularly with candidates and give feedback accordingly.  If  I can't help a candidate I won't waste my time or theirs. If I have talked to them about a role, they'll get feedback - even if that is that I haven't had feedback from a client!

Some roles come up, and then are put on hold...not quite the same as a ghost job.  Again, a good recruiter should be feeding back to you and letting you know what is happening with the role.

Ghost Clients

I'm not convinced this is a thing per se.  However, what is a thing is that many clients do begin their recruitment process by 'looking speculatively'.  So it's often a vague chat with a recruiter where they'd like to keep them on the radar for some specific profiles.  Quite often, clients who are pitching for new biz know that if they win the biz, they'll need to resource up.  However, they may not win the biz...If this is the case, I'm always honest with a candidate and I'll say that it's speculative.  Clients will often interview in this situation and the feedback can be outstanding for months!  They won't commit one way or the other.  A good recruiter will tell you this and manage your expectations. 

Clients don't actually disappear but they can go AWOL.  After all, they are running their own businesses.  Recruitment is a painful necessity but they'd prefer not to spend much time on it.  When they've got a full inbox, it's not always the recruiter who is the priority for a response.    I can find this frustrating but I do accept that my role is about being in the right place at the right time....and I don't want to shoot myself in the foot.  So again, I communicate regularly with clients and generally have a low AWOL rate.

Candidates have a choice.  There are several recruiters around, often there is overlap with clients.  Deal with the recruiters who you like, deal with people who communicate with you.  If you think the communication is sub standard, ask to unsubscribe from their systems.    Of course, this leads me to my next one!  Ghost Candidates.

Ghost Candidates:

This profile definitely exist!  I'm sorry to do some more bashing but it's most common in Millenials and Generation Zers.  Frankly, I wouldn't call it ghosting, it is rude and annoying though.  Ultimately it's candidates going AWOL.    These generations don't generally use the phone, decisions are often made quickly with a swipe and will quite happily hit delete on an email.  Most commonly candidates will go AWOL by just not replying to communication - whether it's by phone, text or email.  Frustrating but generally I take the view that they know where I am when they need me.  It's quite difficult to build loyalty in this sector because response is only forthcoming if there is something in it for them - i.e. if the role is of interest and they want to talk.  It's not as easy to be able to chat through requirements and to run opportunities by them.  A lot of my job is getting to understand what someone will be interested in and then being able to call when that something lands.

It's more annoying when it's someone going AWOL from an interview.   This is a deal breaker for me, it's zero tolerance.  As is going AWOL in the first week on a job.  It has only happened once but the candidate disappeared, never to be heard of again.  I still wonder what the heck happened.

So.  Ghosting in Recruitment.   I'm not totally convinced by the jargon.  A lot of it is just poor communication and poor practice by bad recruiters and occasional lack of professionalism and conduct by candidates.  Fortunately it's all pretty rare in my world!

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