A 2019 survey conducted by staffing agency Robert Half found approximately 28 percent of candidates have backed out of a job offer after accepting it. Most who did so reported they had received a better offer from another company. The next largest group said they turned down a job offer after receiving a competitive a counteroffer from their current employer.
Turning down a position for a better offer is usually the right choice for someone on the job market. The problem is that many candidates are "ghosting" their prospective employers by disappearing without any contact. For whatever reason, they neglect common courtesy, opting instead to ghost on a job offer and stop responding to communications.
It feels like a sign of the times. Maybe it has already happened to you as a business owner. It's become so prevalent the Federal Reserve Bank listed it as a trend in its December 2018 Beige Book economic trends report.
Expecting a new employee to show up to work, only to find out they're not joining the company can create significant problems. Time and money get lost in the hiring process because now you have to scramble to see if another candidate may be willing to come on board. You may even have to start the hiring process all over again.
Here are six things you can do to help stop the "ghosting" epidemic from hitting your business.
1. Be on the lookout for red flags.
Not every candidate will give away the signs of a potential ghoster, but there are a few things that may signal this intent. For example, it's a red flag if your candidate doesn't commit by signing documents or confirming a start date. They may be slow to respond to your messages, which could show they're shopping around for more job options.
There are some ways to handle the situation should someone back out of a job offer, as well as some proactive ways to avoid ghosting.
2. Emphasize your company's advantages.
In the past, I often noticed that candidates had to market themselves to convince a potential employer they were the right fit for a job. Nowadays, more and more entrepreneurs tell me the hiring process is a two-way street.
Companies interview candidates, and at the same time, candidates are interviewing companies. They're looking for the right fit. That's why it's important that employers sell the advantages of working for them. Be prepared to highlight the perks and benefits of working at your company versus another organization.
3. Be transparent and communicative.
Let the candidate you want to hire know what's going on so they are mentally connecting with the idea of joining the company. I've seen many businesses, especially bootstrapped startups with busy founders, neglect to tell candidates when their first day is. Some take days to get back in touch with the candidate after they accept the offer.
Although some companies and candidates may ghost or be spotty about their communications, stand out as an employer that does the opposite. This can go a long way towards building your reputation as an ideal company to work for.
4. Develop a pre-onboarding process.
Use the offer acceptance period as a time to make the new candidate feel a part of your company before their first day. From the moment they accept the offer, start communicating daily with them, including welcome messages from the team and information on what they will be working on.
Although you need to be careful with what you share in terms of tools and accounts, you can create initial access for this pre-onboarding process. You can share information about your company culture, including upcoming events and activities as well as sign-ups for any perks you offer.
5. Continue interviewing prospects.
It may seem time-consuming to extend the interviewing process, but the ghosting trend has driven this need. You want to make sure you have the right backup candidate lined up no matter what. Continuing to talk to people helps you refine your list and get to know potential future hires while you wait to see if the candidate you picked decides to show up.
6. Wait to notify other candidates.
You don't want to keep this other talent hanging, however. They need to know if they have a job or need to continue looking. But, it can help you in case a candidate ghosts you. Let these other candidates know that they are still in the running.
Also, extend that transparency and communication to them to keep them engaged in working with your company should you want to hire them. If the candidate doesn't show up or disappears during the first week, then you have someone waiting in the wings so you don't have to restart the hiring process.