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"Ghosting" Job Seekers Is Worse To Do During a Pandemic

In good economic times, “ghosting” job applicants and candidates is bad practice. It hurts your brand as an employer and as an organization in general. In addition, it either leaves candidates feeling uncertain (“Is the job still open? Did they ever receive my resume?”) or gives them false hope (“The process is just taking longer but I’m sure I’m still in the running”). And frankly, it is disrespectful and downright rude.

We are now in a pandemic. As I write this, more than 21 million people in the United States are currently unemployed. Researchers say that figure underreports the actual number which is likely closer to 27 million. In the United States unemployed persons are defined as “individuals who are without a job and actively seeking to work” (emphasis mine). Therefore, when we are looking at potential job seekers this doesn’t take into account the numbers of people who are employed, somewhat shakily, who would ideally like a different job.

Most of my professional life has been spent in a role where I was hiring people. However, like just about everyone else I’ve also been a job applicant. In addition to bizarre interview stories I’ve also been on the receiving end of both good and not-so-good handling of my candidacy.

So, if you’re fortunate enough to be the person hiring, here are five reasons why you need to up your civility game in dealing with individuals wanting, and in many cases, desperately needing, to be hired:

1. If you haven’t figured out a way to use technology to send an automated response in receipt of a resume or online application, you don’t look as if you are actually operating in the 21st century. Technology exists and although it’s not warm and fuzzy, I have had people tell me how happy they were just to receive an automated acknowledgment.

2. Many of us have a lot of time on our hands. So, we talk and get on video calls, exchange emails and participate in social media. And we bad mouth you for not treating us better. Control your narrative and make it a better one by treating your applicants and candidates well.

3. I hate to give this as a reason because it’s a bit sad, but if you do the right thing here it, and your organization, will likely be noticed. Unfortunately, it is that rare.

4. How you handle candidates while they’re in the process (and, no candidate thinks they’re the only ones being considered) could be the deciding factor in making you the ultimate employer of choice if your candidate gets a competing offer. It’s also their window into what life might be like once inside your organization.

5. Remember 2008? I thought you might. The economy came back. The talent market heated up. It became a seller’s market. It will happen again. The tables will turn. And, all those people you ghosted will remember. Payback is a, well you know what it is.

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