Gary Martin: Circle Back could put ghosting to bed for good

It leaves job applicants upset, frustrated and disrespected, and causes some to question their professional capabilities.

Employers are ghosting job applicants by giving them the silent treatment after they have submitted their resumes, completed a practical employment test or participated in an interview.

In a tight job market, there are repercussions for employers who ignore the fact that attracting the best staff requires care and consideration during the recruitment process.

Ghosting by employers is hardly new and there are reports of this poor practice being on the rise. Many job applicants complain their applications are not acknowledged, while some say they hear nothing after being interviewed.

Others confirm that even after they’ve made contact to request an update, their messages remain unanswered.

At its most extreme, ghosting is the case of the applicant who takes a full day off from their job — without pay — to be interviewed at another company. Then … crickets.

The reasons for ghosting are many and varied.

Professor Gary Martin.
camera iconProfessor Gary Martin. Credit: Bruno Kongawoin

Employers say they are swamped with applicants to the point where it is impossible to provide updates. Others prefer to avoid the difficult job of breaking bad news to unsuccessful applicants.

Even so, the problem with not getting back to job applicants is that it overlooks the fact most would prefer to have closure rather than be left in limbo.

It is also rude. Job applicants will remember how well they are treated and share the experience with friends and professional contacts. Over time, this will damage an organization’s employment brand and discourage even talented people from applying for positions.

Some employers are so concerned with potential damage to their brand they try to set themselves apart from organizations that give job applicants the silent treatment.

They have become part of a new movement called the Circle Back Initiative, made up of employers and recruiters who guarantee to respond to every job applicant.

Circle Back says the initiative exists “to help make a change and encourage and champion organizations who respond to every applicant”.

Circle Back members guarantee every applicant receives “an application received mail”, every unsuccessful application receives “an outcome communication” and job advertisements are not permitted to contain wording such as “only shortlisted candidates will be contacted”.

Circle Back organization members in Australia include Alinta Energy, the Water Corporation, Kmart, Officeworks, Allianz, Nissan and KPMG.

The advent of Circle Back is a sign employers are finally getting the message that ghosting is a damaging practice.

And there is some upside for those job candidates who have been ghosted.

It may be an initial disappointment, but it probably saves you from a more lasting pain when you discover you have been hired by an organization that fails to live up to your expectations.

So, look out for the Circle Back logo next time you are on the job hunt.

For further insights and expertise on current workplace topics visit AIM WA’s Workplace Conversations

Professor Gary Martin is chief executive at the Australian Institute of Management WA

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