“Ghosting” is a term that describes two different scenarios: employers that look like they’re ready to hire, only to suddenly go dark; and prospective job candidates who don’t show up for interviews, or accept a job offer, then “no-show” on the first day. It’s been a pain point for both job seekers and recruiters, but it’s employers who are losing out on new employees in our current talent marketplace.
According to a February 2021 survey from Indeed, ghosting seems to have grown in popularity amongst job seekers over the past year — 28% have ghosted an employer (up from 18% in 2019). Meanwhile, 76% of employers have been ghosted in the same time frame, and 57% believe it’s more common than before. There has been a surge in companies offering incentives to simply show up for interviews, but the same study gives us insight into another type of ghosting — not showing up (or calling, or emailing, or texting) on the first day of work.
For hourly, entry-level positions, 83% of employers reported an increase in entry-level new hires not showing (or calling to explain why) on their first day of work in 2020. This trend continued through 2021. Between the wait time from job offer to start date, approximately 40% of entry-level hires admitted to ghosting their new job after receiving counter-offers with higher hourly wages and better benefits.
Strategies to Improve Post-Offer New Hire Engagement
For recruiting teams, there isn’t a single solution to reducing fall off, but a combination of strategies can help keep new hires engaged between the offer acceptance and the start date.
Communicate, communicate, communicate. While an email or phone call won’t necessarily be the deciding factor for candidates likely to ghost, it does give your new hire more positive information about your culture and how you value your employees. Automation is also a great tool in setting up a nurturing email cadence or text flow to touch base with your new hire’s journey. Consider using automation to set up a series of reminders such as what documents to bring on their first day, asking their preferred work hours or locations or even asking about their favorite work beverage (and then sharing that response with the hiring manager to have it stocked on day one). For someone who is starting a new job, these touch points increase engagement exponentially, while creating a vibrant company culture.
Be transparent and encourage transparency. If more than one-third of new hires ghost because of a better offer (higher wage, better benefits or perks), cut down on that number by developing a rapport with each new hire. This will make your candidate more likely to reach out to your team before accepting another offer.
Train hiring managers on interview techniques. While we assume someone who is at the managerial level has interviewing skills perfected, new training that includes rapport building, structured interviewing and documentation can be helpful. The stakeholders to whom your new hires report can be a helpful resource and another touch point following offer acceptance.
Try preboarding before onboarding. This can begin as soon as an offer is accepted. Your hiring manager can reach out with a welcome message via email, set up a call to begin the “preboarding” process and begin including your new hire in group emails (when not confidential or proprietary). This will make your new hire feel like they’re already part of the team! Never underestimate the power of swag sent by mail before the start date. You might not care about that logo hoodie or coffee mug, but your new hire will.
Finally, it’s important to understand that candidate engagement doesn’t end when the candidate has a start date. What might seem like a small gesture — an email from a team leader or information about how you celebrate employee milestones — sends a strong message to your new hire: We’re excited you’re joining the team, we want you to be excited too!