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Why Applicants are Ghosting You – and What to Do About It

A great candidate responds to your job posting and you feel like you’ve finally found “the one.” However, when you reach out for an interview date, they seem to have vanished. Or maybe you’ve connected with your applicant a handful of times, feel confident they’ll accept the position, but when they fail to return your calls or reply to your emails, you’re dumfounded and disappointed. Perhaps they’ve stood you up for your interview or, worse, their first day.

It really felt like you clicked, like the two of you were an excellent match. It felt meant-to-be. Unfortunately, you’ve been ghosted.

What is ghosting?

Ghosting has been around for ages, and has only more recently been given a proper name, with many people in the dating world experiencing this disappearing act. When someone stops contacting you or returning your messages for no obvious reason, you’ve been ghosted. They’ve fallen off the face of the earth or like in O Brother Where Art Thou, R-U-N-N O-F-T.

Ghosting has carried over into the business world, with both employers and potential employees ceasing communication without any explanation or sense of closure. No matter how impolite, this trend seems to be a long-term reality.

Why is ghosting a new hiring trend?

Robert Half of Robert Half Talent Solutions says, “The rise of ghosting in the professional world in recent years is also due, to some extent, to a general erosion of once-sacrosanct etiquette standards.”

Our culture continues to become faster paced and less formal, with candidates feeling a lack of loyalty to business decorum. It may seem rude, but many employers have been ghosting long before their future employees embraced the silent treatment.

Greenhouse, a hiring solutions firm, says, “Almost 58% of candidates expect to hear back from companies in one week or less regarding their initial application. Despite these expectations, many companies are failing to keep up. More than 75% of job seekers have been ghosted after an interview, never hearing from a company again.”

Job applicants also have lots of options in today’s marketplace. While they’re applying to your community, they’re also sending applications to other businesses, even other industries. Pay and benefits can be competitive, and if the timing is right, they may walk, without notice.

Tired of ghosters? Here are 5 ways to lessen the likelihood of candidates absconding into oblivion:

Make speed-to-lead your priority.

Fast Company states, “38% say that employers are leaving them in the dark about where they stand as a candidate, and 30% are disappointed that employers aren’t acknowledging receipt of their application.”

Once you receive a résumé, make sure you quickly respond with a thank-you for applying, even if you need to use an automated reply. Then, if you’re interested in that candidate, very soon after follow up with a personal email, or better yet, phone call to schedule an interview.

If the meeting goes well and you’re sure this individual will be a terrific addition to your team, don’t wait around to make an offer. Get back to them as soon as you know your decision, and if you need more time, communicate that to the candidate with the timeframe included. This is the honeymoon phase. You’ve got to wine and dine them.

“More than one-third (35%) of employers surveyed by Robert Half who said they’d missed out on a potential hire in the last year pointed to taking too long to make an offer as the reason for the failure.”

SeniorVu’s Applicant Management Services allows your community to reach an applicant in less than 10 minutes. You can learn more about those services here.

Even if an applicant doesn’t meet the requirements of the job, you should still reach out and let them know you’ve chosen another route and why. This gesture of goodwill is not only respectful to the candidate’s time, but it helps them improve for the next interview. It also boosts your reputation as a company, as job seekers will share with others what you said and increase your odds of attracting other good candidates. And, one day, that same person might reapply with the credentials that are a great fit, just because you offered a positive application experience.

Greenhouse reports, “More than 60% said that receiving feedback during the interview process, even if they did not receive a job offer, would make them more inclined to apply to future jobs at that company.

Streamline the application process.

More findings from Greenhouse state, “The length of the initial application is a factor for 66% of candidates in determining whether they’ll complete and submit it. And more than 70% of job seekers said they will not submit a job application if it takes more than 15 minutes to complete.”

True, a part of a comprehensive application is an opportunity for employers to weed out those who aren’t very serious about the position or don’t have the necessary skillset. But, people are very busy holding down other jobs, taking classes, and running a household. Keeping the application questions to the basics will bring in more candidates and add more hours back into your schedule by eliminating lengthy essay questions and detailed cover letter requirements.

CEO of Effective Hiring and Seven Star HR, Jacquelyn Gernaey says, “‘Keeping up with all the emails and contact from many companies is overwhelming,’ and a complicated interview process, one with multiple hoops to jump through, can be additional turn-offs. Or they may have simply accepted another offer-and been too embarrassed or shy to admit it another company.”

If your technology isn’t up to par, invest in a system that’s easy for applicants to enter their information and happily hit send. If you’re interested in taking the next step with them, you can get a sense of who they are with more in-depth questions at that juncture.

Forbes reports, “Many candidates likely assume that ghosting a potential employer won’t catch up to them and there will be no consequences for the unprofessional action. However, employers are taking names — literally.”

Don’t go back to someone who wasn’t right for you in the first place. Keep a record of candidates who ghosted you so that you won’t waste time if they reapply for future postings. It’ll save you lots of headaches, plus be a subtle reminder that ghosting isn’t acceptable when seeking employment, which will only help other businesses when you set a precedent.

Adopt a people-first attitude.

There could be a valid reason they broke it off with you. Most likely, the majority of your candidates have the education, skills, and work experience in their toolkit. It’s important to show them the same respect that they’re expected to show interviewers and potential bosses. Along with speed-to-lead, give candidates a warm welcome to your community and the generosity of an engaged conversation. Listen to their wants and needs, and honestly address any questions or concerns.

It’s also important to be upfront with your interviewees. Let them know how many people are being considered for the job, when you’ll make your decision, and give them an initial impression without misleading them that they’re a shoo-in. Attentiveness, transparency, and follow-up will make a good impression, which can only lead to a high opinion of your company.

Another draw to future employees is your community’s commitment to inclusivity. Especially with residents from all walks of life, having a diverse staff will be important to many of those making their home with you. It also defines your business as a forward-thinking place to work, and that matters because people matter.

According to Greenhouse, “Diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) remains critical for job seekers of all ages when applying for a role, with a large majority of candidates – 86% – considering a company’s investment in DE&I during the process.

Offer a competitive wage with attractive perks.

Employers love to be mysterious and hold back the salary until an offer is made. But you can waste a lot less time by being clear right off the bat on what the job pays. Candidates who aren’t interested in the pay grade will be able to move on quickly, and you can then focus on those who want to move forward.

Founder of FactoryFix.com, Patrick O’Rahilly, says, “We’ve seen jobs that do not post a salary or pay rate receive only about half the applicants compared to jobs that do.”

Speaking of salary, today’s workforce aren’t particularly keen on taking too low of pay, especially with the talents they bring to your community. Give promising candidates a wage they can live off of and be proud of. If you’re not sure what others are paying their employees, do your research. Usually, competitive salaries give ghosters less reason to ghost.

Robert Half reports, “About one-quarter (24%) of employers we surveyed who said they lost out on a potential hire in the last year noted that it was because the salary they offered didn’t meet the candidate’s expectations.”

And don’t stop with salary. Robust medical benefits, retirement plans, and paid time off also talk. If remote work is an option for some of your staff, give it sincere consideration, as many employers are going to this operational mode. Offer programs for mental health wellness, bonus incentives, and sabbaticals for important life changes or simply supportive renewal.

If you need more ideas on ways to improve your community’s culture, ask your employees and applicants. Follow up with a few things they’ve requested. It’ll show them you’re an empathetic leader whose greatest investment are those who care for your community. When you start off on the right foot, it could be the beginning of a wonderful, lasting relationship!

Communicate why you’re the best.

 They may play hard-to-get, but keep the momentum going. Most likely, your top interviewees have researched the history of your community. But, once you sit down with them for a chat, there’s so much more you can share:

  • Give an enthusiastic overview of the culture and vibe of your company, examples of staff members who excel in their role, and offer a tour of the property.
  • Do your research, too, on your candidate, and find out their biggest strengths, hobbies they enjoy, and what their personality’s like—those things make a difference when employees interact and build relationships with your residents each day.
  • Include the essentials—salary, benefits, incentives, expectations, and hours. Show comparable community stats and explain why you’re different.
  • Make sure they know your community keeps up with technology, ethical practices, and remains dedicated to bringing in diverse talent.
  • Review what orientation, training, and an average day will be like, and allow time to get your candidate’s feedback. Treat them like an honored guest, even if they don’t make the cut. Keeping this consistency will eventually pay off with someone who’s absolutely perfect for the job.
  • Let them leave with a hunger to work for you. To add an extra special touch, send them off with a swag bag that includes a brochure about your company, a magnet or water bottle with your logo, and other fun goodies.
  • Promise a follow-up and keep your promise. It can be the deciding factor between you and another community.

Have we given you lots of food for thought? Let us know if SeniorVu can continue to help with your application process. (We respond quickly. No ghosting on our watch!)

Happy Holidays

Answering inquiries for your community is what our Family Advocate Managers (FAM team) love doing, even on most holidays. Thanksgiving and Christmas Day are the only two days we close up shop. We believe all of our team members deserve time with their families. By the next morning, FAM is right back at it to follow up on any inquiries that may have come in the day before.

What about all those other holidays? Rest assured SeniorVu has your time zone covered from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. on each of the following holidays:

Black Friday
Christmas Eve
New Year’s Eve & Day
Martin Luther King Day
President’s Day

Memorial Day
Juneteenth
Independence Day
Labor Day
Veteran’s Day

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