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A bad candidate experience can have a detrimental effect on both brands and those applying to work with them. During the pandemic, we saw a huge increase in volume of applicants for different positions. Rumors ran rife about being ghosted deep into the recruitment process. We wanted to investigate the scale of the problem and the damage being done, so we commissioned some research.

The findings were shocking. 65% of people have been ghosted, according to our research of 2000 UK adults. 86% said their experience of being ghosted left them feeling down and 43% said it took weeks, or even months, to rebuild and move on. The damage to brands also became clear, with 94% saying it left them with negative thoughts or feelings towards the company they applied to.

Most small companies manage with spreadsheets and simple trackers while large companies and recruitment agencies invest in technology, customized to their needs. Here are some tips to ensure your company can confidently avoid ghosting candidates.

  1. Get everyone on board. Recruitment is an area that most department managers get involved in as well as HR teams. Step one is to take the facts about the impacts of ghosting and educate everyone internally. Once you have company-wide support to ensure this doesn’t happen in your organization it’s time to make a plan on how you’re going to tackle ghosting head-on.
  2. Put yourself in the candidate’s shoes. What sort of communication would you want at each stage? A quick email takes seconds and can really help a candidate.
  3. Set up automated emails. If you have one, use your applicant tracking system (ATS) to set up automated emails to candidates at each stage of the application process. This means they will always be kept informed of the stage of their application.
  4. Send updates promptly. No news is good news, except for when you’re waiting to hear about an application. As soon as you’ve made a decision, positive or negative, then let the candidate know.
  5. Make notes straight after a call or interview. ‘Don’t put off to tomorrow what you can do today’ as the old adage goes. Take thorough notes each time you speak to a candidate, this will make it easier to make a decision and also give you plenty of information to use when you go back to them.
  6. Use bulk email or SMS. Communicating with multiple candidates quickly and simply, a standardized message is better than no contact at all.
  7. Use your ATS reporting feature or keep a log. This helps to ensure that no candidate gets forgotten, know how many candidates have applied to each role, what stage they’re at, and when you last contacted them, save all that inbox searching time.
  8. Close down the role. When you hire someone make sure to go back and check you have processed and responded to all of the other applicants.
  9. Get feedback from your applicants. They’re the ones that have been through your process so can offer some valuable insight. Make sure you speak to both successful and unsuccessful candidates for a well-rounded view.
  10. Review and improve your process. There’s always room for improvement, ensure you revisit your plan and the tactics you’re using every few months to make sure they’re still impactful and to implement any new ideas.

Telling candidates they haven’t been selected is a tough call to make, especially when you’ve been positive up until that point. But doing so quickly and kindly provides closure and allows them to move on with their career elsewhere.

No one ever intends to ghost a candidate part-way through the recruitment process, but it’s important to acknowledge that it does sometimes happen. We need to tackle this problem together. By supporting this campaign and following the best practice guidelines, employers can show that they care about each applicant as an individual. We invite readers to join the campaign or share their stories at www.end-ghosting.com.

By Neil Armstrong of Tribepad.

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