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Missing Candidate

Are Job Candidates Ghosting You? It's You, Not Them

Feb. 1, 2022
Begin with an honest look at what kind of workplace community you offer candidates, and take action from there.

As if manufacturers didn’t have enough to worry about with a $1 trillion shortage of workers in factories across the country, they now must also deal with job candidates “ghosting” them—not showing up for an interview, or worse, not showing up for work after being hired.

Ghosting has become a problem in every industry as candidates are in the driver’s seat. There are over 10 million open jobs in the U.S. right now and not enough workers to fill them. Once you offer an applicant employment, they continue to interview to keep their options open, seeking opportunities to grow and learn in their career, better compensation and a sense that they are valued.

Unfortunately manufacturing companies have some extra hurdles with perception that the work is repetitive, lacking in career growth and susceptible to being automated and a “dirty job” This negativity represents a major challenge, but there are a number of steps manufacturers can take to overcome these misperceptions and, in the process, prevent job ghosting.

Start by Looking Inward

Begin with an honest look at what kind of workplace community you offer candidates. Remember that candidates want to keep their options open and will continue to interview for the best offer and best situation unless you offer it to them.

Workplace demographics have changed dramatically over the past few years. With so many baby boomers retiring and millennials and Gen Z’ers rising through the ranks, employees tend to be younger and more diverse in every way. Younger employees demand more flexibility and opportunity, and they look for companies with strong diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) initiatives.

Step one in attracting and retaining the workers you need is to conduct an audit to see how well your values and existing practices match up with what employees want from their employers. Step two is keeping them engaged with you, your company and what you stand for while they are waiting to start. Don’t be fooled for a second ~ they are still interviewing with your competitors to ensure you are who you say you are in the workplace.

Examine every aspect of your recruiting process, from writing job descriptions to candidate outreach and communication to onboarding. Make sure your messaging is consistent, compelling, and accurately represents who you are. This is your foundation for recruitment. Carry through the positive candidate experience you create in recruiting to your everyday work environment and you’ll retain your employees over the long term. Building “community” is about how you make people feel about working for you.

While ghosting is the source of wide frustration and high costs, most companies react to it by keeping records of no-shows and tracking them, or by over-hiring multiple candidates to protect from no-shows. A better solution is to develop strategies that prevent ghosting altogether with strategies like these:

Engage Candidates by By Getting Them Excited about Your Company and Interviewing with You

Check your employer brand, especially how you’re viewed on Glassdoor. The majority of candidates research your reputation before deciding whether they’ll even apply.

Work with partner organizations in your area to improve the overall manufacturing industry brand.

Let candidates know what it’s like to work for you. Focus on what you do well, for example how you give back to your community, which is important especially to younger workers. Acknowledge areas where you want to improve (DE&I, perhaps?) and what your plans are to do it. You’ll build trust with your honesty.

Set expectations with a clear picture of your hiring process and what it will entail, and a timeline for each step, including when you plan to make the hiring decision.

Let candidates know ahead of time who they will be interviewing with. Make sure interviewers are prepared so candidates don’t have to repeat the same conversation with each person.

Ask questions that help you and the candidate find the right fit. Are they interviewing with other organizations? Does this opportunity advance their career goals? What’s their tenure history with other employers? Does this fit the life / goals  that want to have  outside of your organization?  

Make candidates feel respected and valued by keeping scheduled appointments and timelines, communicating frequently and giving feedback, both when it’s positive and when they are not the one you choose for the job.

Communicate Continually Once a Candidate Has Accepted Your Job Offer.

Don’t leave them alone for too long and risk a competitor hiring them away before your start date. Create a feeling of belonging through your communications:

Move the start date earlier.

Keep them engaged by sending them a link to your blog or providing other reading material about your organization.

Begin onboarding right away by sending any “work” they can do from home that will prepare them to become a part of your community. 

Send a welcome gift or some swag that represents your brand.

Have their soon-to-be colleagues engage them via text, phone, or a quick note to share how excited they are to have them join the team.

Send them a personal note, yourself.

Update your Workplace to the 21st Century

by focusing on your unique style of fun, flexibility, and perks—underpinned by purpose, guidance, and trust. You’ll attract and retain today’s top talent when you:

Define and communicate your vision for the future and ensure everyone in your organization is committed to living your values.

Respond to candidate concerns about safety and wellbeing by highlighting what you’ve done during the pandemic to care for your employees and their families in this time of uncertainty. Emphasize the job safety standards you apply in your workplace.

Stay relevant with new technologies in automation and other areas of your business.

Allow for flexibility in scheduling and work hours wherever possible to provide better work/life balance.

Update your benefits packages to include premium health plans, financial wellness programs and things like flexible spending accounts (FSA) and paid time off (PTO). Compensate fairly.

How often you are ghosted could be the scorecard for how well you’re meeting the expectations of today’s candidates and employees. Try these strategies and measure the improvement in your hire and retention rates.

It may seem foreign to many manufacturers, but what people want from their employers today is to feel respected, trusted and even loved. It may be a sea change in your thinking, but it’s the way to overcome misperceptions and win the talent with the skills you need to succeed in this crazy, challenging time.

Kathleen Quinn Votaw is the CEO of TalenTrust, a strategic recruiting and human capital consulting firm. She is the author of Dare to Care in the Workplace: a Guide to the New Way We Work. Regarded as a disruptor in her industry, Quinn Votaw has helped thousands of companies across multiple industries develop purpose-based, inclusive communities that inspire employees to come to work. Her company has been recognized in the Inc. 5000.

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