Top talent is scarce right now. You don’t need to be a detective to figure that out. You just need to be a recruiter trying to fill one of your client’s job orders.
And since talent is scarce, candidates are in the “driver’s seat.” (No matter how much your clients would like to believe otherwise.) The problem is that talent is SO scarce in some industries and for some positions that candidates have started to “take liberties” with current market conditions.
What does that mean, exactly? Well, it means a lot of things, namely because candidates have become prone to taking a lot of liberties. But for the purposes of this particular blog post, it means “ghosting” on the job offer.
“Ghosting” on your placement fee
Here’s the situation. Your client wants to hire one of your candidates. Great news! You contact the candidate to inform them that the client has an offer of employment. You give them the details. From your perspective, they should accept the offer on the spot. So of course, they do not. Instead, they say the following or something like it:
“Okay, that’s a good offer, but I’m gonna need some time to think it over. I’ll get back to you in a couple of days.”
Ah, yes. That statement is just dripping with vagueness and generalities, isn’t it? You love going back to your client to inform them of that response. So you tell the candidate that you understand and that you’ll speak to them in “a couple of days.” But you have an uneasy feeling, a pit in your stomach.
And that uneasy feeling is 100% validated when you never hear from the candidate again for the rest of your life! That, in essence, is “ghosting.” They’re gone. Like a ghost. And so are your placement fees. Bye-bye.
Why did the candidate “ghost” on the offer? Oh, there’s a laundry list of reasons. They’re still interviewing with other employers. They accepted an offer from another organization. They’re waiting for a better offer from another organization. They accepted a counter-offer from their current employer.
However, the reason is almost never that there was a tragic accident or personal emergency. It’s just that the candidate doesn’t think it’s worth their time to tell you or your client that they don’t want the job.
Don’t throw your headset . . . yet
It’s enough to make you want to throw your headset across the room, isn’t it? We sympathize. After all, it’s impossible to force candidates to do the right thing. However, there are things you can do to increase the chances that they will.
Below are six steps for preventing candidates from “ghosting” on your client’s offer:
#1—Do NOT give the candidate the benefit of the doubt.
Many times, recruiters are not prepared for the possibility of “ghosting” because they don’t really believe it’s a possibility. The candidate seems nice, after all. Great references, very likeable. They would never “ghost,” would they? You’d better believe it, brother. Instead of assuming that they won’t at the beginning of the process, assume that they will.
#2—Talk about “ghosting” beforehand.
Definitely broach the subject somewhere along the line. Talk about what it is and also the consequences of doing so. That’s the important part. Emphasize the consequences, such as the hit their reputation will take if they pull such shenanigans. They’ll be “burning bridges” with both you and the employer. The ideal situation would be to secure their commitment to NOT “ghost” before the offer is even made. That way, if they do “ghost,” they’ll have to become a bald-faced liar to do it.
#3—Relay some stories about how “ghosting” turned out badly for other candidates
True, you might not have any specific stories about this. But if you do, trot them out! Describe them in all their bridge-burning glory. This candidate must be motivated to not “ghost” on the offer. Don’t politely suggest. Strongly dissuade. The story of a candidate who torched their career is a great way to dissuade.
#4—Determine how many other employers with which the candidate is interviewing.
Once again, this might be difficult. However, considering current market conditions, you almost have to assume that they’re interviewing with multiple employers. Which means possibly multiple offers. But if you have specifics, that makes it a little easier for you to prepare and anticipate.
#5—When you extend the offer, set expectations for a timely answer.
“A couple of days” is not exactly an iron-clad expectation. However, “I will call you before 5 p.m. on Tuesday the 16th” is much better. If the candidate needs time to think about the offer, that’s fine. However, you need specifics, not vague generalities. How much time do they need? When will they have an answer? How will they contact you with their answer? And here’s the kicker: tell the candidate that if they do not respond by the deadline with their answer, then your client will quite possibly pull the offer. Of course, your client might not be fully prepared to rescind offer of employment in such a situation, but this candidate needs a bit more motivation to do the right thing, would you not agree?
#6—Have the contact information of another person handy.
Once again, this is not always possible. However, if the candidate is a referral, then you probably know somebody that they know. This mutual connection could shed some light on the situation if, say, the candidate misses the deadline and does not respond to repeated calls and emails. Then you can contact this person and ask them what in the heck is going on.
Yes, it’s a candidates’ market. And candidates are taking liberties. But that doesn’t mean you have to let them without putting up a fight. All we’re asking for is a little professional courtesy. They don’t have to accept the offer. They just have to let you know that they’re not.
Really . . . is that too much to ask?