THE PSYCHOLOGY OF GHOSTING
WRITTEN BY JOANNE SUTER
ANY GHOSTS IN YOUR CLOSET?
I’ve worked in recruitment for eight years now, just over; from starting as a Resourcer when I was 17 years old, in the midst of an unsteady market, recession talks and candidates literally turning up at the office looking for a job, to now – the market as candidate-driven as it’s ever been and real talent trickier than ever to come by, IMO... To say the recruitment game is an ever-changing one would be somewhat of an understatement.
One thing however which has been consistent, regardless of market conditions, is the very common grumble we hear about recruitment consultants in general – that is, the enigmatic, moreover notorious concept of ‘ghosting’.
Ghosting def: the practice of ending a personal relationship with someone by suddenly and without explanation withdrawing from all communication.
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN TO THE RECRUITMENT INDUSTRY?
If you’re sat reading this saying to yourself, “Ohemgee, I’d NEVER ghost a candidate, I’d never even think of doing that EVER – you must be a shit consultant”, you, my precious, are one of three things:
1. A liar. It’s okay; you are amongst friends here, my child – safe place.
2. A better consultant than I, for which I applaud you. Though you should note that I have very little shame. Sorry, not sorry.
3. Very new to the game. Welcome to the jungle, and Godspeed.
It’s no secret that recruiters have a bad name – right up there with car salesmen and estate agents, so they say (no hate, promise) – and, suffice to say, in some cases it is warranted. There are a lot of shitty recruiters out there, period. Not necessarily by any fault of their own, be it a lack of training, unethical agency practices, understanding of the job in general etc; but when it comes to bad practices in recruitment (CV sending without consent, posting fake CVs for lead gen purposes, and so on and so forth), from an outward, human point of view, ghosting is up there with the worst.
We’re all guilty of doing it, if even unwillingly. I’ll openly admit that there have been times where, because a candidate hasn’t proactively chased me for feedback, it’s slipped my mind. Two weeks later you’re stood cooking spag bol for tea, or watching the opening sequence for Peaky Blinders, when that little light goes on in your mind and you think, “Oh, shit, I didn’t call ____ with feedback a couple of weeks ago… Well, he/she didn’t chase me, sooo…”
It happens. Ghosting happens, and it happens at any point in the process, be it a CV which has been rejected upon review, a shortlister who got bumped due to a stronger application, or after an interview has taken place.
SO WHY DOES IT HAPPEN, AND HOW?
Simply put, no one likes to be the bearer of bad news, and no one ENJOYS having those difficult conversations (if you do, you’re a bit fucked up, but I’m okay with that – play to your strengths, each to their own and all that). There are the usual debates – do I do it now, 5 o clock on a Friday, so they go into the weekend feeling shitty and drowning their sorrows? Do I wait until Monday morning, so I can ruin their week before it’s begun? Worse yet is working out how to give absolutely ruthless feedback in a completely PC, leave-the-door-open type of way; loved you, great background, but here’s some info they sent me to forward you about the benefits of a mid-week shower. Sorry, let’s keep in touch?
Before you know it, you’ve spent the whole week avoiding calls, silencing your mobile when you see the name pop up, going around in circles, putting it off; inevitably, that candidate stops calling. They’ve given up, and it’s now been too long for you to call them back without having to make awkward excuses, and that’s it… Another candidate on the ‘ghosted’ pile. Another nay-sayer of the recruitment industry. Another poor, hardworking job seeker wondering what in the world they did wrong.
You know it’s not right, moreover totally avoidable but, be honest: a week in recruitment is a long time. Things move fast. You move on. With a slightly heavier conscience than before, sure, but move on you do. Us recruiters are nothing if not hardy and resilient (monsters, basically – straight up monsters).
A DIFFERENT POINT OF VIEW
I ran my own recruitment company for a year, essentially working self-employed while I galivanted around the world (good fun; not entirely sustainable) and upon returning I found myself, for the first time ever, looking for a job. It was this period of time, brief as it was, which changed my whole attitude towards job seekers in general and particularly the concept of ghosting.
I only applied for two jobs and, in that time – the waiting period between application and interview – I found myself realising: this is what it’s like. I’ve not even been for an interview – I’ve only bloody applied. Yet, I find myself in limbo, checking my emails every few minutes, musing thinking wondering HOPING that they might at least auto-send me a badly written email to so much as confirm receipt of my application…
I ended up being offered both jobs (just saying), but even that short period of unknowing was enough to give me a completely new and wholesome appreciation for just how stressful and anxiety-inducing job hunting can be.
And, as such, how fucking frustrating it must be not to get any feedback from an interview.
I reckon if we could cut this out of the recruitment industry, we’d see far fewer recruiter-bashing posts on LinkedIn (much as I enjoy them, personally) and the level of service would be raised tenfold; you just need to picture yourself on the other side of the fence.
Eat that frog. Make that call. Don’t be a ghouly ghosty recruiter.