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Recruiters: Why Did Your Candidate Just Ghost You?

“Ghosting” is where someone ceases all communication, rather than informing you that they’re no longer interested. It was first used in the world of online dating, but it’s become a common phenomenon in recruitment. So, why has your candidate just ghosted you, and what can you do to make it less likely in future?

They’ve been ghosted themselves

It can be argued that the practice of ghosting started with recruiters. It became a common complaint among candidates that they would learn they’d been unsuccessful when the recruiter stopped returning their calls.

Having been treated like this once or twice, it’s natural for candidates to decide that recruitment just works like that, and change their own behaviour accordingly.

Obviously, you can’t affect how your candidates have been treated by recruiters in the past but you can set better expectations for how you will treat them. Make it clear that you will keep them informed, whether they are successful or not. It makes sense to keep in touch with your old candidates anyway, as this will help you build your network.

They don’t feel they owe you anything

This generally means that the candidate never felt that your relationship was any more than a transaction - and since they’ve decided they don’t want to go ahead there’s no point in continuing with it.

If your candidate feels that they’re more than a resource to you, that you’re genuinely interested in helping them further their career, that they can trust your advice and your promises, they’re more likely to tell you what’s happening when they get another offer.

They don’t think you can help them in the future

People are less likely to put themselves through an awkward conversation if they don’t think there’s anything in it for them. They can reasonably expect to be able to reach a recruiter if they need one, so if they have no reason to want to work with you in particular it’s easier to avoid your calls.

The best solution here is to be a useful contact that they can see themselves needing throughout their career. Be interested in them, beyond what they can do for you; be supportive, insightful and expert when they need you to be.

You didn’t communicate enough

In most cases, your candidates will be in the process of making an important change to their lives, and for some this can be a stressful process. It’s important to keep in touch with them, so they know what’s happening. If they feel like you’ve kept them waiting unnecessarily, or even that you’ve avoided their calls, they won’t have any trouble doing the same to you.

You didn’t give them an “easy exit”

The root cause of ghosting is that people are trying to avoid having a difficult conversation. Your candidate accepted another offer and they felt awkward about telling you. You can go a long way to solving this by making that conversation less awkward. Create a spirit of transparency and honesty by being available to talk through any doubts or questions right from the start of the process.

Alternatively, you could set clear expectations by saying something like “if we don’t hear from you by the end of the week we’ll assume you’re no longer interested in the position”. This kind of clarity can help to avoid confusion and give your candidates no reason to avoid you.

The process took too long

The one thing we haven’t covered yet in this article is the fact that ghosting usually means your candidate accepted another offer. In other words, you lost them, and whether they tell you about it or not, you’re still going to have to replace them if you want to fill the post for your client.

One common reason for this is that someone else got to the point of making an offer, and solving the candidate’s problem, before you did. Understand that, especially in the present candidate-driven market, it’s likely that your candidates have more than one opportunity ongoing, and do everything you can to ensure they choose yours.

If you have questions or if we can help in any way, please call our expert team on 01296 468483 or email 

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