End ghosting in recruitment: Technology means there’s no excuse

Despite advances in software, many candidates are still ghosted by prospective employers. Martin Stubbs, resourcing manager at civil engineering firm Colas, explains the damage caused by organisations that fail to inform candidates why they haven’t got the job.

With single-click applications, the recruitment world has become unrecognisable in the past few years. Gone are the personal covering letters and hours spent adapting CVs to a role. It’s no wonder that many recruiters are seeing an influx of applicants, often unqualified for the position.

For big in-house talent teams, the technology is so good now that there is no room for excuses when it comes to failing to respond to candidates. Nevertheless, recent research from recruitment software firm Tribepad shows that 65% of UK job applicants have been ghosted. This points to a failure within recruitment and HR to act, both on a human level and on a technological level.

Technology is very accessible now and it is here to help us with automated screening and mass messaging to candidates. I see no reason for those who work in HR to apologise for using such automation.

The modern world has changed. We as an industry need to start treating people how we ourselves would wish to be treated. It really isn’t hard to set up an automated email system that allows organisations to communicate to a candidate that they have been unsuccessful – it is the bare minimum we can do.

Candidate experience
Resourcing revolution: How to hire in a candidate-led market (webinar)

Succession planning now a priority for in-house recruiters

Candidate experience failings afflict businesses despite labour shortage

Where talent team numbers allow, more personal feedback is better, particularly when a candidate has put a lot of time in. With the feedback driven culture on social media, the recruitment process has become increasingly focused on candidate experience.

It is so important for us, in the HR sector, to be mindful of the service that our candidates receive particularly when it is often so difficult to find the skills we are looking for.

I noticed during the pandemic, when many recruiters lost their jobs and had to apply for new roles, they were the first to complain when they were ghosted. This should hopefully help recruiters realise how in the modern industry, which is candidate-driven, ghosting is not OK.

Ghosting might seem like a small issue, but there are far-reaching consequences. Tribepad’s End Ghosting research has seen many who have been ghosted by organisations large and small, hoping to hear back about a prospective job, yet are left with negative effects on their mental health and self-esteem.

The report found that 86% of people who had been ghosted in the recruitment process were left feeling down. Forty per cent said this feeling went on for weeks and even months.

I’m a full believer in “positive rejection”. Taking the time to explain why a candidate is unsuitable for the role while acknowledging their strengths goes a long way. This may soften the blow of the initial rejection and also avoids ghosting. It’s important for us in HR and recruitment to take responsibility and better safeguard candidates’ mental health.

Almost all ghosted candidates reported feeling resentment towards organisations that ghosted them. Why wouldn’t they? Reputation management is perhaps a small part of why practices should be improved, but it can help us focus on a better candidate experience. It is a part of a company’s social responsibility to ensure candidates are looked after, at the very least at a basic level.

Colas delivers sustainable solutions for the UK’s transport infrastructure. We operate a wide variety of projects for public and private sector clients, employing 1,284 employees across 20 locations in the UK. In construction and engineering, we have suffered a shortage of skills for a number of years. This means we need to work harder to generate candidates.

The industry is very project-driven and candidates will move to progress their career. At Colas, we work hard to engage and communicate with people at every stage of the process. Just because a candidate isn’t right for us now, it doesn’t mean they won’t be in the future and I want their interaction with Colas to be positive so they’re inclined to consider us next time they want to progress their career.

Tribepad’s End Ghosting campaign has come at a really timely moment for the HR industry. Talent teams really must make better use of the technology available. We are all accustomed to an automated response when we buy something online, so why shouldn’t we use this tech to our advantage and provide some basic level of acknowledgement and feedback to a candidate?


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *