In the dating world, it’s the dreaded term that has come to mean one person cutting off another entirely, without reason.

But now ‘ghosting’ has entered Apprenticeships too, causing headaches in the form of lost time and resources for employers, HR and recruiters alike.

Candidates agree to job interviews and fail to show up, never to be heard from again. Others accept Apprenticeships, only to not turn up for their first day, no reason given of course. Instead of formally quitting, enduring a potentially awkward conversation with a manager, some just leave one day and never return.

Last year, a LinkedIn article about workplace ghosting went viral and according to the piece, it’s derailing the recruiting process at companies all over the world.

No matter how it happens, ghosting signals a failure of communication. However, research suggests this isn’t a new problem, it’s just becoming more common place.

In today’s job market, people are busier and more stressed, and therefore more likely to choose convenience over courtesy. It goes without saying that this is not something organisations should take lightly.

So, what exactly can employers do to ensure that current or potential employees don’t pull a vanishing act on you?

Communication is key

It is imperative for an employer to keep the lines of communication with job candidates open right from the word go. This means that an employer should be transparent about the position they’re looking to fill and provide candidates with a timeline as to how the process will work.

Employers should also be sure to check that job descriptions are accurate, carefully detailing expectations and responsibilities for the role. This will help to avoid any awkward conversations later down the line, realising the job isn’t for them and ‘ghosting.’

Candidates may be more likely to go MIA if they feel they’re disconnected from the process. Therefore, it’s important to encourage candidates to come back to you if they have any questions or concerns. Remember, even if there’s no news, it’s always good to keep in touch so the candidate knows you’re still keen.

Personalise the process

Recruiters and HR should attempt to personalise the recruiting process and conduct meaningful, in-depth interviews, preferably face-to-face, where they can get a good read of the candidate and vice-versa.

It’s important to attempt to understand the candidate’s motivations, goals and aspirations, trying to learn as much as you can beyond their application. Again, this ensures there are no crossed wires later down the line.

Know your culture and brand

A brand isn’t just words or logos, rather it summarises the personality of your company. It’s how you’re perceived as an employer. A strong employer brand that displays the culture of your organisation and ticks all the boxes for candidates will help to keep ghosts at bay.

Part of attracting good candidates is fostering and maintaining a positive workplace culture, where employees feel valued, respected and engaged by the work they do.

Thanks to the internet and plethora of websites available, candidates can conduct thorough research on your workplace and gather an initial picture before even stepping foot inside the building.

Make sure your social media platforms are up-to-date and highlight the best bits of the organisation and the work it does. If you’re a great match for a candidate in terms of job role, work culture and benefits, then joining you is a no-brainer for them.

Be aware of your competitors

An employer will be in a much better position with regard to hiring if it knows its competition and what its competitors are offering – think about salary and benefits as a good starting point. It’s also worth keeping in mind that a candidate might also be applying to the competition, so be sure to have something that sets you apart.

Additionally, make sure you’re across all job channels to find the best wealth of talent. If you’re not looking in the right places, you might not be getting the attention of the correct candidates, potentially increasing the chance that the company will be ghosted.

Finally, watch out for signals

It’s not hard to spot when someone is turning into a ghost. Perhaps your candidate is delaying in committing to a start date? Or, your calls and emails might be going unanswered? Maybe the tone of communication has changed?

These are all warning signs. You’ll need to decide whether to continue using up time and energy reaching out to the person or walk away and concentrate your efforts elsewhere.

Nobody can say for certain if ghosting in the workplace is a trend that’s here to stay, or if the emergence of a strong job market will in fact curb it. What’s certain is that candidates’ attitudes have changed and organisations must take steps to adjust.

By building a strong community, promoting positive culture and engaging new hires early and often, you can better position yourself to reduce the likelihood of candidates ghosting you for good.

Laura Little, Learning and Development Manager at CABA

Read more from Richard Daniel Curtis about how to develop "A culture for supporting apprentices".

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