Now you see them and then…they disappear

Invisible man wearing a suit and glassesMagicians love to make people disappear and this is entertaining to watch. But when new hires and job candidates disappear without any notice it becomes a problem. In the recruiting business, this is referred to as “ghosting”. So I decided to use Merriam Websters [guess I could have used Wikileaks or the Urban dictionary] definition of the word ghosting to understand what was going on. Ghosting, the noun, and to ghost, the verb, have been added to the dictionary, and have been defined as “the phenomenon of leaving a relationship of some kind by abruptly ending all contact with the other person, and especially electronic contact, like texts, emails, and chats.”  

It happens in the labor market when jobs are plentiful and candidates know they have options. When this happens to companies the costs are exorbitant as there has been a lot put in place anticipating the hiring of the employee. You have also allowed other interested candidates to re-enter the job market which allows everything to cascade out of control. Recently we had a candidate who was positioned to receive a job offer at his upcoming third interview. We talked prior to the interview and he was excited and prepared to accept the offer. We knew his interview ended at 3:00 so we were anticipating a call from our client as well as a call from him informing us of his acceptance etc.  Instead, we received a call at 2:00 from our client stating that the candidate did not show up for the interview. So we immediately phoned the candidate and the call went to voicemail. We emailed him…with no response. We called 90 minutes later and the call again went to voicemail. After deciding to hold off calling for the day we decided to call again the next morning; again the call went to voicemail. Well sooner or later you have to accept the fact that this candidate decided not to go to the interview and has disappeared for a number of reasons:

  1. did he win the $1.6b lottery?
  2. used our job offer as a negotiating tool for a position he really wanted?
  3. didn’t have the maturity or professionalism to state that he was not interested in the job?
  4. changed his mind and decided to stay with his current employer?

Let’s face it we can pummel ourselves all day trying to figure out what is/was going on in the head of this candidate? The company will never know the answer unless he calls us one day and explains to us we need to learn from it and move on.

While skipping out on appointments and work has always happened on occasion, the behavior is “starting to feel like a commonplace” occurrence, says Chip Cutter, editor-at-large at LinkedIn, the job and social networking site, who has studied hiring practices.

While no one formally tracks such antics, many businesses report that 20  to 50 percent of job applicants and workers are pulling no-shows in some form, forcing many firms to modify their hiring practices.

Even more, resources are squandered if new hires don’t show up the first day of work. That behavior – or ignoring calls after accepting a job offer – is happening about 30 percent of the time with the servers, bartenders and other workers hired this year by Hollywood Casino in Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Here’s how to prevent it:  Using a recruiting agency becomes very appealing to companies in a tight labor market. Making a bad hiring decision can cost money and a lot of time resulting in unfilled vacancies. Many of these costs can be mitigated through an agency allowing you to spend more time on revenue-generating activities and tasks. Some professionals have found that by delaying informing the not selected finalists that they’re no longer in the running until the new hire actually arrives at work offers hiring protection. Some of our peers have suggested that making hiring decisions sooner rather than dragging it out helps determine who is ready to start their new career. For professional level positions, faster hiring decisions usually involve a start date in less than 30 days. You may want to negotiate the 30 days to start….a lot can happen in 30 days.

We don’t like VoiceNation’s approach, where about half the 10 monthly hires never appeared in the office, President Kent Gregoire initially took a page from the airline industry by hiring 15 representatives, expecting some to stand him up. But realizing that wasted recruiting resources, he has shortened the interval before a new hire starts to three days from up to two weeks. While we don’t support this approach we do believe in having several candidates identified that you would extend the job offer to if the first candidate declined or didn’t show up to work.

Final thoughts:  And of course, if candidate #1 doesn’t show you can always give candidate 1A a call with the job offer. Know that we are in the people business and they do occasionally change their mind. Hiring will continue to be tough in the coming years but it is important to continue to vet your candidates to make sure they are the best choice for the position. And know that the candidate may not be as forthcoming in expressing their job search status so you will need to take the high road. Always be prepared with job offers and other candidates and move the candidate as quickly as possible through the selection process.

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