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Ghosting and Being Ghosted


Summary: Job ghosting is a process that can kill your business.

Ghosting and Being Ghosted
  • Ghosting: It’s a poor interview practice that has become an H.R. pandemic.
  • Ironically, both job seekers and employers are equally guilty of ghosting each other.
  • So what’s an employer as well as a job seeker supposed to do in this Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em bout within the world hiring?

It’s a rare occurrence in the working world when labor and management hold equally guilty halves in the hiring process. But due to a new development that has plagued the employment world called ghosting, the fight between H.R. and prospective workers has turned into a situation not unlike that of Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em robots upper-cutting each other’s heads off.

Granted, it’s a nasty deal this ghosting. No matter who you are – a worker, a supervisor, labor or management – to be ghosted is to feel inconsequential. You sense within yourself that you’re not worth another human’s care, sensitivity or even consideration.

But the real problem is ghosting and being ghosted is not a one off or one-hit-wonder within the workplace. It’s a trend that has become more popular due to a variety of reasons, in which many of the consequences are beginning to have devastating effects on not just employment, but from a human angle as well.

What is ghosting and/or being ghosted?

Ghosting, for all intents and purposes, is an inverse action. It is when one person cuts off all communications with a second person, the second of whom is disappeared from a situation.

Note that is remains hyphenated, and that’s because in ghosting, the event happens to the person who is ghosted. They don’t disappear voluntarily. Their disappearance is brought onto them.

Of course, ghosting and/or being ghosted has been a practice stanchioned within humanity for as long as people have been having relationships – or the sudden lack thereof.

In other words:
  1. Two people have a relationship.
  2. The relationship does not work out.
  3. The two people break up.
  4. And they never hear from one another again.

That’s ghosting. Both are made to feel they don’t exist, like true ghosts. And to be on the receiving end of such an action due to a romantic breakup can cause a person to feel very poorly about themselves.

Well, needless to say, the same occurs in the hiring market. In fact, ghosting in the working world has become so prominent, it seems responsibility and consideration are afterthoughts when it comes to two sides that are looking to fill a job vacancy.

For example, those job seekers searching out employment may:
  • Agree to a scheduled job interview, yet simply not show up.
  • Or, if a candidate does show up to the interview, and they are offered a position to which they agree, they don’t show up on their start date.

Hiring managers are not expunged from this unfair practice either as:
  • A job candidate agrees to a scheduled job interview, nails it, and comes back for two or three more interviews, which they nail again.
  • That candidate is then told they are a strong fit for the job, but there are “others” who are also scheduled to be interviewed. “We’ll get back to you soon about the position,” the candidate is told.
  • But no one from the job calls or emails the candidate who was such a “strong fit.”

Hence, ghosted; a nasty pandemic that’s scouring the hiring practice, and as a consequence, could be filtering into the working world as a whole.
Why does ghosting occur? Consider the economy

It’s easy enough to blame ghosting on gutless self-centered hiring managers and job seekers who seem to have invaded an industry where it once was honorable to even have a job.

But, if anything those individuals barely scratch the ghosting surface. In fact, some socio-economic experts feel ghosting is a direct reaction to the economy in general that the U.S. has enjoyed of late.

According to a FoxBusiness report ‘Ghosting’ – what it is, what it means for US economy, author Leia Klingel states the practice of ghosting, at least for workers, is derived from a strong jobs market.

As Klingel explains the job market is hot enough to a point where would-be employees are standing up interviewers or not showing up for their first day of work. Not only that, but there has been an uptick in employees who walk out of work and never come back – all without giving notice.

Of course this behavior is a clear subset of consumer and worker confidence. Employees now feel that if they quit their job, a new or better job will soon follow. The same is true of job applicants who fail to show up for interviews or if offered a job during an interview, their first day at work.

But, just as there’s two sides to every story, there are two sides to the process of ghosting. There is the employer’s side of it as well.

Klingel goes on to reveal that while the ghosting trend brought on by job candidates and employees is a headache for the employers themselves, the action of being ghosted as an employer has caused a panic within U.S. companies, especially those that are unable to find employees within the midst of a nationwide worker shortage.

In short, if finding talent wasn’t hard enough, retaining talent is also becoming an issue, which leads to how ghosting works from an employer’s point of view.
Ghosting as a hiring practice

There are many seekers in the job economy who complain about getting the same ghost-related shaft as companies get, but in a much different manner.

These workers in most cases are serious applicants. They want to work at the companies to which they’ve applied, and have come to their interviews with every intention of making a strong impression.

These candidates do well: They pass all the prerequisites, dot all the I’s, cross all the T’s and are told they would make a perfect fit.

All is good, everyone is happy.

But that promised call back never calls back. The phone is silent, the line is dead. And when the candidate does call the H.R. person with whom they interviewed, that person may as well be dead too, because they somehow…mysteriously can’t be reached.

It’s a nasty scenario to which the candidate has no one to blame but their fellow job seekers and employed workers; the ones who in effect, made a mess of this situation to begin with.

From hiring experts, to recruiters and others who are familiar with the business side of the employer-worker relationship, almost all agree that ghosting job candidates is a defensive mechanism designed to net the best and most loyal employee possible.

Businesses ghost their job candidates to build up a pool of potential employees that they at some future point will be able to pick from once a position does open up.

Yes, that’s right; once a position does open up. This is because in virtually all scenarios where job seekers were ghosted, the job they sought did not even exist. It was, in fact, a fake job for which the candidate was on a fake interview.

But that isn’t the sole reason companies ghost potential employees. Manpower, or a lack thereof, is also part of why companies ghost their applicants.

According to Robin Epstein, a writer for Radio Silence who penned the feature article, The terrible manners of employers who ghost on job candidates,” when she interviewed Brendan Browne, who is head of talent acquisitions at LinkedIn, it was stated that while applying for a job is fairly easy for job seekers, employers can quickly become overwhelmed with applications and interviews—making ghosting an easy default option.

But according to Epstein, Browne believes employers should focus on making all candidates’ experience in the hiring process as positive as possible. “The employment brand is an extension of the company brand,” he says. “Every interaction you have with a candidate determines how attractive a place it is for people to work.”

Unfortunately, not every business or business manager agrees with this assessment. Again, that adage “lucky to have a job,” rises up to a business manager’s ears, but in a much more delineated way in which that manager realizes they are “lucky to have employees at all.”
Who does ghosting/being ghosted affect?

Aside from being just plain rude, ghosting and/or being ghosted can cause definite long term if not permanent damage to both an employer and a job candidate.

To remedy such damage, all that can be hoped for is a leveling of the playing field away from employees. However, for such an event to occur, the job market must weaken to where workers are no longer gifted with multiple job opportunities that they can exploit at will while leaving employers holding the bag.

Of course, if that leveling of the field does not occur, and ghosting is allowed to continue like tennis volleys between labor and management, the distrust one side feels for the other will deepen to a point where confidence no longer exists in the workforce.

Job seekers will carry on their tactics of impetuously bowing out of interviews which can ultimately cost an employer much time and money. Or employers will grow leery of employees they either will or already have hired, constantly wondering if half the staff might one day walk out the door and never return.

Needless to say, this is no way for a business to exist. Employees and employers who can’t trust one another will invariably damage productivity and adversely affect a company’s bottom line.

It’s for that reason that the ghosting must stop. Trust is a huge component within any business, and once it’s lost – whether it is to ghosting or not – that trust is extremely difficult, if not impossible, to regain.

In the case of employers, Bryan Adams of Inc. suggests in his article Are Your Best Candidates Not Responding? Here’s How to Avoid Being Ghosted:

1. Improve your candidate experience.

To avoid ending up with a ghost, make sure your candidate experience gets candidates excited in the role on offer. Make the initial application process simple and straightforward, and, at the interview stage, take time to make the interview a genuine two-way conversation.

Discover what motivates your candidate and what's important to them, now and in their future career. Demonstrate to them that you can meet their expectations and aspirations. This is going to be a long-term relationship, so make sure you are giving plenty of information to persuade the candidate that you're the employer for them.

Don't let them think the grass may be greener elsewhere. Keep them informed throughout the recruitment process and engage with them. Don't delay in giving your response, candidates these days have lots of options and won't be waiting around. Give great feedback throughout the process, don't just send out standard emails or template feedback.
2. Define your employer brand.

An employer brand isn't words, logos or colors, rather it encapsulates the very essence of who you are and the experiences you create for your employees. It's how you are perceived as an employer. A strong employer brand that proudly displays the culture of your organization and ticks the boxes for the talent you are trying to attract will help keep ghosts at bay.

Make sure you know the personas you want to attract in as much detail as possible, and make sure your employer brand is built on pillars that send out the message that these personas want to hear.

If you're a great match for a candidate in terms of job role, work culture and benefits package, then joining you is a no-brainer for them. You'll be making an offer they can't refuse.
3. Look out for ghost signals.

It doesn't take a lot to spot when someone is turning into a ghost. Is your candidate delaying in committing to a start date? Are your calls going unanswered? Has the tone changed in your communications? Are emails going unanswered? These are all signs that there's a ghost in the room. You'll need to decide whether to continue using up time and energy reaching out to the person or walk away.

Whether we represent a business or are employees of a business, at the end of the day, we all have to survive, if not for each other.

Sure, we want what’s best for ourselves.

As employees, we want to be paid the most we can possibly make, and as employers, we want to have the greatest amount of productivity so that we, like our workers, can make the largest profit possible.

But be that as it may, employers and employees ghosting one another will not lead to that profit; it will lead to a defeat of the purpose.

For employees who ghost their employers, H.R. representatives of companies where that employee may apply in the future can easily obtain the employee’s job history, see that he or she has engaged in ghosting prior employers, and with that, blacklist that candidate from any new job vacancies.

And for employers who ghost job candidates, online review boards as well as word-of-mouth encounters can (and honestly will) create a cloud of doubt over that employer’s establishment. Good, solid workers won’t apply to that business for fear of they being ghosted. In the end, the consequences can be so dire, due to attrition and simple employee distrust, that employer might one day be left with no employees at all.

With that the moral of this new workplace trend call ghosting should be don’t do it. Whether you are an employee currently at a job or seeking a new job, or an employer who desires the best possible candidate to join their company, be honest and up front with each other. Don’t think shafting one another through ghosting will have any long term benefits.

Once the economy tilts in any one person’s favor – the employer or the employee – being the dupe that did the other wrong will clearly come back to exponentially haunt that person like a real ghost.

And that’s a job place fear no one should put themselves through.

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