Unemployment is down, wages are up, and “ghosting” is on the rise. According to Express Employment Professionals franchise owners like Lisa Straughan of Longview, Washington, all these trends, compounded by poor communication skills, are connected.
Because jobs are more plentiful and employers have to compete over wages, employees may get multiple jobs offers or interview requests at once and simply not show up—or “ghost”—the ones that are less appealing or pay less.
“I have worked in human resources for 20 years, and have seen a huge increase in ghosting in the last couple of years,” Straughan said. “With so many opportunities, [job seekers] at times accept multiple offers, and there is no accountability if they don’t show.”
“We have seen a steady rise in job seekers ghosting interviews,” said Shane DeCoste, an Express franchise owner in Halifax, Nova Scotia. “We are seeing people changing jobs at an unprecedented rate because of the level of opportunity that is in the market. Gone are the days where employees cling to job security like maybe their parents or grandparents did. They are on the lookout for opportunities to improve their position.”
In the survey, 26% of businesses said that “low pay” is among the things that “stop applicants from accepting a job at your company.” That was second only to “not the perfect fit.”
“Employers are having to sell job opportunities to prospective candidates more than they have had to do in a very long time,” said Ted Maksimowski, an Express franchise owner of three operations in Ontario (Hamilton, Burlington, and Brantford). “As the competition for candidates is fierce, employers have to be very specific in describing the ‘What’s In It For Me’ for the candidate. Working conditions, training, flexible hours, and advancement opportunities are other factors prospective candidates are looking for.”
In Mobile, Alabama, Express franchise owner Chris Ashcraft agrees that businesses are far more willing to negotiate over pay than in past years and low pay is a “huge” factor when someone declines a job offer. As for actual “bidding wars,” he says those are most common in administrative positions and commercial driver’s license jobs.
Some job seekers will turn down jobs with what they consider low pay even when they don’t have another offer.
“I like to say some money is better than no money, but most of the time they still won’t accept a low-paying position. They’re waiting for a ‘better opportunity,’” Ashcraft said.
Aschraft, too, has seen low pay lead to people “ghosting” interviews and their scheduled first days of work.
Janis Petrini, Grand Rapids, Michigan, Express franchise owner, sees job seekers ghosting interviews at the highest rate in history, often because they have found a better opportunity and fail to communicate that to recruiters.
“I think some of it is generational,” she said. “The younger generation is not used to calling and canceling or confirming, so they just don’t communicate. Job seekers have so many choices that they don’t think burning a bridge will have negative consequences.”
DeCoste has also noticed a generational divide when it comes to ghosting. “We do see that younger generations seem to ghost an interview while older generations will often let us know that they are no longer interested and sometimes,” he said. “Given the various modes of communication available, job seekers should take a moment to provide an update if they decide not to go to an interview or to leave an employer after accepting an offer. Employers keep records on interactions with candidates and you never want to burn a bridge with any company.
In Olympia, Centralia and Aberdeen, Washington, Express franchise owner Reid Bates said job seekers in his market often accept a position but continue to hunt elsewhere for the perfect fit. In the current tight labor market, applicants have a heightened sense of their worth to employers — just not necessarily their current one.
“On the plus side, this is leading to improved wages, growth opportunities and even some hiring bonuses,” Reid said. “But, it is also leading to lower levels of loyalty as job seekers ghost their employers and, in many cases, interviews and the first day of new employment.”
“Competitive pay is the surest way to ensure you’re hiring a dedicated employee and not a ‘ghost,’” said Bill Stoller, CEO of Express. “Some employers still haven’t recognized how fierce the competition is. Good talent requires good pay. While that may seem expensive to some employers, investing time in recruiting, interview and hiring ‘no-shows’ can get pretty expensive too.”
The survey of 445 businesses, which are current and former clients of Express Employment Professionals, was conducted in December 2018 to gauge respondents’ expectations for 2019.