Recruitment Ghostbusters

Posted in Latest News on 28 Oct 2019

'Ghosting' is a social phenomenon that has haunted the dating world in modern society, however, the practice is becoming more prevalent within the business world and recruitment is no exception.

For those who are lucky enough to be unfamiliar with the term, Ghosting is the withdrawal of communication by a romantic interest without explanation; one party effectively disappears without trace leaving the other to muse about what went wrong. Whilst ghosting during the recruitment process occurs for a number of reasons some of the main factors include time-efficiency, to save face, and a general aversion to relaying bad news. Candidate, recruiter or hiring manager: ghosting does not discriminate.

Ignorance is bliss

Our candidates often tell us that one of the most frustrating aspects of job searching is the lack of feedback offered, especially after a substantial effort has been made and the candidate has become enthusiastic about the opportunity. Ghosting can occur following a CV send after time has been spent to put together a tailored application or, even worse, after interviewing for a prospective employer having prepared and potentially travelled to meet face to face. 

Either generic feedback is given by hirers for rejecting an application (or none at all) leaving recruitment agencies to pick up the pieces and chase on behalf of a slightly peeved candidate. If no feedback can be obtained, then the Recruitment Consultant representing the candidate is left in a sticky situation. Letting the candidate know that the hiring manager has not provided any comment can be deflating. In the worst-case scenario an upset candidate may spread a negative perception throughout their own network, thus indirectly harming the employer's reputation and indirectly impacting the agency's partnership with the client. Moreover, in giving generic feedback on behalf of the client, Recruitment Consultants are not helping give the Candidate constructive or necessarily accurate feedback.

Of course, agencies can be guilty of this too, the delivery of rejections can be difficult but are necessary. Being honest will ultimately stand both Recruitment Consultants and candidates in good stead in helping build a working relationship. 

The legal industry is competitive, and candidates are often pitted against similarly qualified and experienced rivals when vying for top positions. In a digital age where technology plays a significant role in developing and defining our relationships, HR and recruitment teams have embraced digital modes of recruitment to ease their busy workloads from the building of sophisticated portal application and management systems to increasing digital advertisement spend. Modern communications have helped to speed up the recruitment process by introducing efficiencies that have improved time to hire and introducing new ways to engage with candidate talent pools. Whilst these have helped to improve the feedback process, this can be a double-edged sword as candidate expectations may be raised in relation.

Despite new technology, HR professionals remain busy individuals and unfortunately have to prioritise their workloads. Sometimes, although they recognise it is important to give personalised feedback, it may not always be viable to do so. 

The Cold Shoulder

On the flip side, our consultants (as well as hirers) have also experienced their fair share of ghosting!

We have worked with candidates who, although expressing a keen interest in roles at the beginning of the recruitment process, become “missing in action”. This is made worse when the hiring manager after viewing the candidate's details would like to invite them to interview or if this should happen shockingly after an offer has been made. Earlier on in the year LinkedIn revealed that 95% of recruiters say they have been ghosted. Further research by Robert Half also found that more than 25% of workers backed out of an offer after initially saying yes. 

At Douglas Scott, building a rapport with our candidates is incredibly important to us. After taking time to get to know our candidates and to have invested time in matching them to roles, to be ghosted can be frustrating. However, getting to the crux of a candidate's motivations and interests allows us to find the role that suits them perfectly from both an experience and personality perspective. Fully engaging with our candidates and getting to know them as people mitigates the chances of them ghosting at critical moments. Of course, candidates want the best deal they can get whether that is in terms of salary and benefits, a change in environment, or a better work/life balance. Therefore, it's no surprise if the position offered isn't the best that's possibly available and another comes up that challenges what's already on the table, then the candidate may opt for the latter.

To view the latest leading legal positions click here. For more helpful career insights, visit our blog or contact our team of experts.


We partner the HR professionals, practice managers, partners and business leaders who are accountable for hiring talent into their business.

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