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Ghosted by an applicant? Here's what to do.

Posted by Berton Pinkham on Feb 20, 2019 12:14:43 PM

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The term "ghosting" is usually used to reference a rather concerning trend in modern dating. You meet someone online, chat for a bit, and maybe even go on a first date. Then, they go silent. Sound familiar?That's because ghosting happens in the corporate world, too. You ask a candidate to come in for a second interview, only to never hear back. You thought the employee was a great fit, and they seemed excited as well. So why aren’t they returning emails? Did they lose interest? Did they find another job? 

You may never get answers to these questions, but there are steps businesses can take to ensure qualified applicants don't slip through the cracks. Here are six ways to create a more positive and cohesive hiring process. 

1. Standardize your hiring process.

We know it's hard for employers to say exactly if or when a candidate can expect to know more about the status of their job application. But it's important to remember that most applicants are applying for several jobs at once. Outlining a clear multi-step process and timeline for when you intend to make an offer or decision will prevent candidates from having to wonder and continually follow-up. Will applicants receive notification via email if their application has been rejected? Or should they assume they were not selected for a first or second interview if they haven't heard back within two weeks?

Letting candidates know when to expect or not expect updates will help eliminate nagging emails and awkward phone calls. You value your time, and therefore, its only fair to value theirs. 

2. Establish clear expectations.

Before the internet, applicants found opportunities through channels such as newspaper listings, referrals, and word of mouth. In the digital age, most people find and apply to jobs online. But here's where the online application process can get messy: While one applicant applies through Indeed, another applies through LinkedIn. Meanwhile, a third candidate is reaching out directly to their would-be supervisor via email. The result is a flood of applications from different sources, some of which may not be checked regularly. When you list an opening at your company online, be sure to specify how you want candidates to apply. If you'd prefer they send applications directly to your company via email, provide a point of contact's name and email. If you'd rather they apply through a platform like Hireology or LinkedIn, make those preferences known in the listing.

3. Emphasize the importance of a strong cover letter. 

Resumes are helpful for quickly determining whether a candidate is qualified for a job or not, based on their prior experience. But if you're looking for an exceptional hire, you should emphasize the importance of submitting a cover letter, too. Cover letters give life, context, and dimension to the basic facts listed on a resume. A cover letter gives the applicant an opportunity to further explain their previous roles and why they're a good fit for your company. That way, by the time a candidate arrives at your office for an interview, you will already have a sense of their writing ability, personality, and passion for your business or industry. 

5. Demonstrate an investment in new hires. 

Sure, it would be great if you could offset or reimburse an applicant for the cost of transportation to their interview (especially if you're trying to attract top talent from another area). But we know such expenses can be a financial burden for small-to-midsize businesses. 

If possible, ask applicants to submit an expense report for gas or public transportation fare during their trip. If not, emphasize during the interview that you value your employees, and you are looking to hire an individual who wants to grow with the company. Highlight other ways in which your company nurtures top talent: Is there the possibility of moving up over time? Are there opportunities for mentorship or professional development? Showing your investment in their potential in other sends a strong message to prospective employees. 

6. Follow the Golden Rule.

Think back to your most positive application or hiring experience, whether you got the job or not. What set that experience apart from the rest? Most likely, it’s because you were treated with respect. Remember: applicants are at a point of transition in their careers and lives. Humanizing the application process, rather than automating it through various programs, will increase the likelihood that an applicant will speak well of your company and apply to another position in the future. 

Topics: Leadership and Culture

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