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An employment agency’s thoughts on job seeker ghosting

Posted on Apr 19, 2024

The U.S. job market is still strong with a national unemployment rate of 3.8%. While that number is a popular statistic running across all media channels, it may not feel that way to every job seeker. There are several industries such as hospitality, manufacturing, and healthcare that are hiring. In some other areas such as finance and accounting, technology, and marketing, there are smaller pockets of hiring.

Regardless of the hiring trends, in today’s environment, a job seeker can utilize several channels to find employment. There are a variety of job boards, job search engines, social media platforms, and employment agencies promoting open job opportunities to a wide mass of job seekers who they never met or engaged with before. How should a job seeking candidate engage with a potential employer? While there are many answers and several steps, one common tactic that many candidates poorly pursue where employers are getting way too familiar with is Candidate Ghosting.

Ghosting is the process where the job seeker or candidate miraculously disappears during the employment application process with the employer. The ghosting usually takes place after the point of candidate engagement where the candidate has been either granted an official client job interview or even in some cases, an official job offer and start date. For their own reason, the candidate decides not to respond to the employment agency. They would rather abandon the process than simply give a reason for cancelling a job interview or employment offer. Running away from a professional career opportunity is their preferred option.

An employment agency is a licensed direct employer that employs a job seeker on assignment as an official W-2 employee on record. Some employment agencies employ job seekers in multiple states or all 50 states. Since employment agencies service multiple clients in a variety of disciplines such as finance, information technology, or healthcare, staffing firms deal with a variety of job seekers with diverse backgrounds.

No matter what job order requisition that an employment agency handles, there are candidates who still ghost or disappear during the employment application process. Why does this happen? There are many reasons. Many of which that are difficult to answer. Some candidates may feel that employment agencies are not real employment partners due to the transactional nature of the business. Some candidates may feel that the job may not be a real open job, but a bait and switch tactic to bring in the job seeker’s resume. Some candidates may also feel that the staffing firms is not really listening to the career objectives of the job seeker.

Whatever the case may be, an employment agency should build and develop trust with its candidates. The interview should be a fact finding mission to discover what really motivates the job seeker to take their next job opportunity. Follow up skills are important as the job seeker and employment agency should be able to contact each other within 24 hours via email or phone. An employment agency needs to be honest and available.

Now even when an employment agency communicates with a candidate with the highest level of professionalism in its interviewing and engagement, candidates still ghost staffing firms. Below is a list of some of the negative effects on the job seeker as a result of Ghosting:

Candidates who ghost will:

  1. Lose out on the opportunity to work again on any future job order with an employment agency. Most staffing firms have centralized applicant tracking systems. They share the same data and recruiters can mark a candidate as a “Do Not Use.”
  2. Obtain an overall bad reputation. Recruiters change jobs too and work at other employment agencies. They may remember a candidate name with a reputation of ghosting. The outcome is getting added to the blacklist of a second or third or fourth employment agency.
  3. Damage relationships with the clients of the staffing firm. If a candidate was submitted to a client of an employment agency, that client has your name. When the candidate ghosts the agency, they also ghost the client. The bad reputation spider web has grown.
  4. Negatively impact their own employee brand for the long term. Life has its ups and downs, and a candidate never knows when to expect the unexpected. Keeping a clean job seeker or employee brand is important. When life changes and one really needs the assistance of an employment agency, help may not be available.

Unfortunately, ghosting will never cease to exist, but employment agencies can implement some candidate recruitment process controls to mitigate those outcomes. An employment agency should add some quality control check points during its recruitment. One idea is to allow the candidate some time to think about whether they really want to interview or apply for a position. Request that they call you back at a specific time on a specific date with their decision. Another idea is to schedule an interview prep call via video (Zoom or MS Teams) where the employment agency and candidate meet in person to review the interview with the client. If the candidate does not appear for the video prep call, it’s time to cancel the interview with the client.

USA Today recently posted an article called “Is it bad to ghost low priority potential employers?” where the CEO of the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), the world’s largest HR professional society. Very timely and worth the read.

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