How to Keep Candidates Engaged and Avoid Getting Ghosted…Again

Posted by Ashley Jones

Getting ‘ghosted’ is no longer limited to the online dating scene or the occult. Unfortunately, it’s a term that cleared recruiters have become familiar with in the midst of a competitive job seeker market. With some candidates willing to leave the cleared community all together for remote work options, and the simple fact that there are more openings than job seekers, top tier candidates have the opportunity to compare their options.

“Recruitment is a numbers game in the current job seeker market,” says Sara McMurrough, ClearedJobs.Net Account Manager. “I’ve seen recruiters reach out to 500 cleared professionals a month to wind up with only 20 responses, which may pan out to about 10 interviews. That’s only 2% of the initial 500 people! Once you have a candidate on the hook, don’t let your efforts go to waste. Keep them engaged to avoid getting ghosted.”

When candidates think the grass is greener elsewhere, they may drop out of your hiring process quickly or ghost you before you can woo them back. Consider these tips to help keep candidates engaged and lessen the number of ghosts that haunt your hiring process.

Why Candidates Ghost Employers

While ghosting is a no-no by etiquette standards, candidates may feel they have little to lose by ghosting a potential employer in the midst of a market that’s in their favor. If they have in-demand skills, they likely understand they’re in a position of power to pick and choose what opportunities to consider and pursue.

A Lighthouse Research & Advisory report1 recently shared a three-way tie for the reasons that candidates ghost employers after applying. Those three reasons include:

  • The company/job didn’t interest me after I learned more
  • I took another job
  • The hiring process was too long and complicated

Weed Out Disinterested Candidates Early

Whether a candidate has applied to your job or you sourced them and reached out first, there are steps you can take to save time and energy, and quickly uncover a poor match. A well written job description is a helpful tool in combatting the first reported reason for ghosting (the company/job didn’t interest me after I learned more1).

We asked cleared job seekers if a well written job description helps them when applying for jobs. 64% of survey respondents said, “Yes, clear details help me to determine if I am qualified.” Beyond weeding out the unqualified, a detailed job description can also help candidates determine if they are a good match. You want to share enough about the position and the company culture to interest those who would truly succeed in the role.

The key to both job descriptions and your initial conversations with candidates is transparency. Your job posting needs to set expectations that will match what candidates uncover in the hiring process. Is there something unique to your company’s needs that might not be known otherwise? Be honest and don’t try to underplay what’s expected. Transparency is your friend not foe. If you set realistic expectations from the start, your ghosting rates will decrease and your retention rates should rise.

Salary transparency can also play a pivotal part in weeding out disinterested candidates early on. While your company may not be in the habit of sharing salary ranges on job postings, the earlier you can determine if the role’s salary is in the realm of what your candidate would consider the better. Don’t waste time and set yourself up for being ghosted by holding back salary details that will make a candidate ultimately drop out of the process at a moment’s notice.

Ensure Your Processes Are Efficient and Easy

Nobody wants to fill out overly complicated, time-consuming applications only to be kept waiting in suspense about the next steps or a final decision during a hiring process. If you want to combat the remaining two reasons for being ghosted (they took another job or the process was too long1), you need to make efficiency a priority.

This starts with your application process. In the current market, you need to create as many of the right conditions as possible to win cleared talent. One way to appeal to candidates is to have a mobile-optimized application process. It should also be straightforward, and hopefully takes less than 30 minutes to complete.

Beyond the application stage, creating a quick and easy hiring process relies on how well you communicate with talent. One of the best things you can strive to do as a recruiter is to set expectations for your candidates. This means proactively sharing information about the steps candidates will encounter in your hiring process and when they can expect a follow-up.

While you don’t need to touch base with a candidate on a daily basis, do communicate within a timely manner. If you told a prospect you would touch base in one week, make the call even if you don’t have a new update to share yet. This will help build the relationship and make the candidate feel like they haven’t been forgotten.

Also cut down on the number of interviews and get candidates in front of the true decision makers sooner to avoid a candidate losing steam or interest. The more you can do to cut to the chase and speed up the process will benefit your ability to hire. In fact, “hiring faster saves up to 70% of candidates from ghosting1.”

Don’t Be a Ghost Yourself

You may have been burned by one too many a candidate who ghosted, but resist mimicking the same behavior. Something many recruiters can improve on is offering closure. Some job seekers send in an application, have an initial phone screening, or even get through to the interview stage only to be left hanging with no definitive answer. Nobody likes to be told no, but it’s worse in many cases to be left not knowing.

So whatever you do, please do not ghost your candidates. At the bare minimum, send an automated message that they are no longer being considered. However, if you want to ensure the best odds that your rejected candidate will apply again in the future or refer others, pick up the phone and give them a call. Putting an end to getting ghosted in the hiring process is a group effort, regardless of which side of the table you sit on, be it the candidate or a recruiter.



  • Ashley Jones

    Ashley Jones is ClearedJobs.Net's blog Editor and a cleared job search expert, dedicated to helping security-cleared job seekers and employers navigate job search and recruitment challenges. With in-depth experience assisting cleared job seekers and transitioning military personnel at in-person and virtual Cleared Job Fairs and military base hiring events, Ashley has a deep understanding of the unique needs of the cleared community. She is also the Editor of ClearedJobs.Net's job search podcast, Security Cleared Jobs: Who's Hiring & How.

This entry was posted on Tuesday, June 21, 2022 7:34 pm

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Notify me of updates to this conversation