My article a few months ago on applicant ghosting told the tale of applicants vanishing from a site before the employer’s eyes. This phenomenon has been steadily on the rise as employers fight for top talent. My piece drew out comments not only from employers but from applicants. Many readers, friends, colleagues and strangers made excellent points which spurned further conversations. Many of you demanded to know why employers could ghost but applicants could not. Fair enough. Let’s talk more about employer ghosting and what might be behind it.
Ghosting is not just for applicants. Employers have been ghosting since the days of the cavemen and cavewomen commute. Why is that? Why does the employer treat applicants this way? I have personally been on both sides of it and it does not feel good on either side. Many of you reached out to me and reminded me of this fact. Many of you said it was about time that the employer got a dose of their own medicine. Well, guilty as charged.
Employers ghost on applicants for several reasons. We don’t consider it ghosting as we are usually waiting for someone to do something or someone to tell us something, give us feedback, move to next steps, etc. The first reason that we ghost is that we can. Because it is easier. Getting back to the applicant is hard. Sometimes we have no information to share and telling you that seems silly or foolish. Sometimes it has been so long that we are embarrassed. The second reason is that we may have moved on to another applicant and we don’t want to tell you. There are other applicants out there. Organizations should have a clear process for communicating with candidates. I have found that smaller businesses tend to do better with candidate communication even though their process may not be as formal.
Do you know that organizations have record-keeping requirements when it comes to hiring? If you are on the organizational side of things, pay special attention to these requirements mentioned here. Employers are required to maintain Hiring Files sometimes referred to as Job Files. These files should contain all documents related to the job that they are hiring for. You may think this sounds easy but it is actually harder than it sounds. Some jobs have tens to hundreds of applicants. The employer must not only keep track of the person hired but everything related to this hiring action. This translates to the tracking and retention of all applicants, all records related to this, all interviewed and all correspondence. If you are a federal contractor, you will have other complexities added to your requirements. The OFCCP has rules in addition to the guidelines mentioned here.
So, yes, applicants should be kept in the loop and employers should have a system for this. In fact,
Applicants tracking systems can help with that. I’m told that those employers with applicant tracking systems will see fewer charges of discriminatory hiring practices.
Remember, all communication with applicants should be tracked. If the applicant feels this is mechanical or robotic, it probably should feel that way. All applicants should be treated the same. There is no room in today’s world for discrimination or favoritism. Should the applicant call the employer to follow-up? I would say probably not. You can try but do not be offended if HR does not call you back. There could be good reasons that you have not been called. Do not assume that it is because you are not liked. HR might be busy or waiting to contact you when the decision has been made.
Basic sample job file checklist:
• Approval to fill position (some organizations have a form for this or could be an email)
• Job description/minimum qualifications
• Recruitment plan
• Advertisements, postings, flyers, etc.
• All applications collected
• Interview questions
• Interview notes
• Interview panel
• Testing, scoring tools
• List of interviewees
• Offer letter
• Before closing position, notify applicants that the position was filled