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Is Ghosting Job Applicants Killing Your Brand?

The short answer is yes.

When I first heard about the word ‘ghosting’, I assumed it was something that happened only to people active in the online dating scene. Being in a serious relationship over the past few years (and now married), I obviously had no interest in knowing about the goings-on of the tinders and the bumbles of the world. Why would I care about ghosting?

A couple of years ago when I was actively on the job market, I went through the hiring process with Company X. It started off with an online application followed by two phone interviews and two in-person interviews with different members of the team. All was good and I had established a great relationship with the hiring manager through our phone, email and in-person conversations; Or so I thought. For my final interview, I met with the owner of Company X which went pretty well. I was told I would hear back by the following Monday. Of course Monday came around and I heard nothing. Then Tuesday. Then Wednesday. I finally reached out to the hiring manager on Thursday to remind them I was still alive and I was told they were quite busy but I’d hear back the next day. Friday came around…still nothing. To cut a long story short I reached out two more times and never heard anything back. I was so confused, and then I realized… I had been ghosted!

Ghosting is the act of suddenly ending an ongoing relationship and cutting off all communication with no explanation. Now, it’s important to understand the term relationship here isn’t restricted to romance. It could be a relationship with a friend, family member, employee or even an organization. An organization’s brand is not restricted to it’s visual identity or image, but it’s a culmination of it’s values which the entire company has to work together to deliver on. Think the marketing team is solely responsible for a brand? Think again. Customer service, HR, Finance, Management and all the different departments have a part to play in delivering on a brand’s promise.

Let’s talk about HR in the context of recruitment. Generally speaking, before a job seeker can get face to face with a hiring manager they have to go through HR first. So in a sense, HR can be considered to be the ‘first point of contact’ for an organization in the same way a customer service representative is. The major difference is, the people who come in contact with HR through recruitment channels want something a bit different from a regular client who comes in contact with a customer service rep through a sales channel. Either way, both job seeker and client want something from your company, and their interaction with your frontline staff shapes their perception of your brand. See where I’m going with this?

Back in 2015, ziploc bags containing air- yes air, from a Kanye West concert drew bids of over $60,000 on eBay; It goes without saying that the intangible aspects of a brand such as perception are just as important as the tangible. As one of the many faces of an organization, HR has an opportunity and a responsibility to shape brand perception in the most positive light. When a job seeker invests their time, energy and other resources in pursuing a role in an organization, a relationship of sorts has already been established. Just like in any relationship, there must be a mutual level of respect and courtesy extended by each party, even in the dissolution of the relationship. Now this is not to say every single rejected job candidate should receive a personalized handwritten letter, but after a considerate amount of resources have been invested on both ends, a phone call would be courteous, or an email at the barest minimum.

In my peak job hunting years, I received rejections from some of my favourite brands which I still actively patronize today. In fact, I was so impressed by the humorous rejection email I once received that I subscribed to the organization’s newsletter and followed them across all social media platforms immediately! Organizations need to remember that job candidates aren’t just random isolated beings; They are existing clients, future clients, family and friends to your potential clients. Would I ever do business with company X? Probably not. My rationale is, an organization that’s not straightforward enough to courteously reject a job candidate, is not straightforward enough to have my business.

HR is one of the most important gatekeepers of a brand. What does your recruitment process say about you?

*This post was originally shared here on Feb 11, 2020


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