Job applicant ghosting is on the rise in Canada. As the labour shortage continues, candidates aren’t showing up for interviews, their first shift, or leaving the job quickly without notice. If time is money, then business owners are wasting a lot.

Organizations – especially small businesses and startups – have many decisions to make daily, and they can’t afford to be waiting for applicants who will never arrive, or worse yet, people who get hired only to not show up for their first shift. That’s the hallmark of a tight job market.  

According to Statistics Canada, the number of job vacancies for all industries in the first quarter of 2022 was 890,385, which means competition for candidates is fierce. And yet, you could still be ghosted if you’re offering a good wage and benefits. In a survey conducted in late 2021 of more than 800 senior managers by business consulting firm Robert Half, 43% of respondents said ghosting is more common than it was two years ago.

A job candidate at an interview

And let’s be clear about what “ghosting” means. Ghosting, also known as simmering or icing, is a colloquial term which describes the practice of ending all communication and contact with another person or organization without any apparent warning or justification and subsequently ignoring any attempts by that organization or individual to contact them.

Why Workers Are Ghosting Employers

There are four main reasons why candidates ghost a prospective employer. Robert Half’s data finds the top reason is the job wasn’t what candidates expected, followed by a poor interview process. In some cases, the applicant received another job offer. Although it accounted for less than 10% of all ghosting, the implementation of a mandatory return-to-office policy is what prompted many candidates to ghost.

But ghosting isn’t the only reason employers have trouble filling roles, so it’s important to remember what you’re doing as a business that might prompt a candidate to turn down a job. 

Data shows that more than two-thirds of companies were taking too long to make an offer, and since a lot of hiring is being done remotely, job seekers expect a quick hiring process. Nearly as significant a factor was that the candidate wanted more schedule flexibility, while 30% of employers didn’t meet the candidate’s salary expectations.

How You Hire Matters

While salary, benefits, culture, and scheduling play a significant role in attracting and keeping talent, your hiring process is also a candidate’s first glimpse at how they might be treated – remember, respect is a two-way street. You’re less likely to get ghosted if you put effort into your hiring process.

There are several ways you can create a favourable candidate experience to prevent ghosting:

Decide quickly

Any candidate will likely have several irons in the fire, so you need to move as quickly as possible. If you streamline your process and keep candidates in the loop on any decisions that concern them, they will remain invested in the opportunity.

Conduct respectful interviews

To hire the best person for the job, you need to ask tough questions and be ready to answer them. But that doesn’t mean anyone needs to be uncomfortable. Be mindful of their time and train any interviewers appropriately so they can ask illuminating questions respectfully.

Talk money early

A candidate will lose interest quickly if the salary you’re offering is below their expectations. Being upfront about salary will help screen applicants who won’t accept your offer early and save everyone’s time.

Be transparent and overcommunicate

Transparency is key to building trust with job candidates. Keep in touch with them as much as possible throughout the process, and not just to notify them if they’re getting the job – if you told them a decision would be made by the end of the week, but there’s been a delay, let them know so they’re not fretting over the weekend. No matter what, you need to be upfront about how long the hiring process will take and when they can expect a response.

Never forget a candidate will remember how you treated them during the hiring process, whether they get the job or not. How you hire people reflects your organization, and if they come away feeling good about your organization, you’ll benefit from word of mouth.

Make Sure New Hires Want to Show Up

Remember, ghosting doesn’t just happen with job candidates; new hires can often decide after a couple of days the role isn’t working out and leave with little to no notice because the current labour shortage makes it easy to find another job.

You invest a lot of time and effort into hiring someone. Your post-hiring communication should include follow-up from when they accept the offer to when they start their new job. If you’re out of touch during that gap, your candidate may have second thoughts, get approached by a competitor or be anxious about starting with you.

Keeping the lines of communication open and having them come by the office to meet their new colleagues goes a long way to ensure they show up on their first day. Even after they’ve started, you check in with new employees to see how they’re settling in and if there are any concerns. 

Regardless of how commonplace ghosting is or the state of the labour market, it’s essential to have a formal recruitment process to attract new talent and an onboarding process by which you welcome new team members and help them become familiar and comfortable in their roles. That is especially important for a small business or startup ramping up, especially if you’re in an industry where talent is in high demand.

Even though you’re a small business, you’re fishing in the same talent pool as large corporations, which means you need to have hiring processes in place and the right commercial insurance policy. Fill out an application to get a free quote from Zensurance. Our licensed brokers will find you the coverage you need at the best price.

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About the Author: Gary Hilson

Gary Hilson has more than 20 years of experience writing about B2B enterprise technology. He has been published by EE Times, Network Computing, EBN Online, Computing Canada, Channel Daily News, and others. A Zensurance customer, when he’s not tapping on the keyboard, Gary collects comic books, attends live theatre, constructs Lego, and buys books he always intends to read.