The Halloween season is upon us.

Perfect timing, from an autumnal standpoint anyway, to talk about a trend once thought to only rattle the shackles of job hunters. The tale is akin to a headhunter calling, then setting up what appears to be favorable conditions for moving forward—just to vanish without a trace in hindsight.


Not much recourse for any applicant caught in the melodrama. But now, statistics show the tables have begun to turn and its employers who are beginning to feel the small hairs stand on end. Today, given historically low unemployment figures, increasing numbers of new hires are abruptly vanishing from the interview process and even failing to materialize for their first days on the job altogether.

The term for it is “ghosting,” and although it’s likely you’ve heard of it, there’s an equally good chance you’ve found solutions difficult to pin down. Whether you see it coming, as a prospective employee might; or going, from the perspective of an employer, the outcome is always an unsettling mix of frustration, wasted time, and unrecoverable expense.

Unknowingly, your organization could be contributing to conditions that increase the odds of ghosting. And yet, what used to be inconceivable doesn’t have to be inevitable.

Here are four things to keep in mind to keep it from happening:

  1. Be transparent. Job seekers are far more savvy—and selective—than ever before. They scour social media for clues on what it’s really like to work at any particular company. If they find something that doesn’t jive as advertised, they’ll reconsider posthaste. By contrast, those businesses that provide a real window into what they do and how they do it build trust from the first click.
  2. With the Will. The world of AI and smart automation is no apparition, but rely on it too heavily and it’s possible that candidates may begin disappearing before your eyes. Once the data is in, set a date to begin. Monday mornings between 9am and 10am are generally the most productive for in-person interviews; and, according to statistics, 27% more likely to have both parties present.
  3. Write with clarity. There are times when employers read too much into what they’ve written. At first glance, the meaning might ring as a clear as a bell, but nevertheless land with a dull clank outside the inner circle. Good job descriptions clarify not only the tasks, but also the soft skills, background expectations, and personality traits required to survive and thrive in the workplace.
  4. Less is more. Treating the hiring process as a strictly a numbers game is a perfect scenario for tricking HR into believing a false positive—that activity is the same as productivity. In most recruitment scenarios, it’s rarely about the quantity of candidates who have submitted their applications; it’s about the quality. In that regard, a reputable staffing firm like CarterWill Search can help you make contact.

From our perspective, the “ghost” in the staffing machine is certainly one that’s prone to giving senior leaders nightmares of every description, but remains particularly disquieting on the cost and time fronts. The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) reports the average cost-per-hire for companies is $4,219 and the average time to fill a position is 42 days.

Those numbers aren’t your imagination talking, but we can keep them from haunting your bottom line.

Who you gonna call?

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