Welcome back to The RecruitingDaily Podcast! Today, I have guest Jerry Collier, Managing Director of Product Innovation at AMS, here to discuss the big, bad “G” word.
That’s right. We’ll discuss the wonderful world of ghosting that we all know and love (slight sarcasm). But since we could easily host an entire series on this, Jerry specifically narrows the topic to Ghosting in Hourly Hiring.
Jerry leads the AMS Global Innovation Practice, where he and his team are responsible for solution design, product development & experimenting with new ideas on the frontier of the market. Alexander Mann Solutions (AMS) is a global total workforce solutions firm dedicated to the success of organizations by building, re-shaping and optimizing workforces.
What big questions will we answer?
To name a few, what shape does ghosting take in the hiring process? Who’s doing it and why? How do ghoulish candidates and recruiters affect hourly hiring in an industry that is literally paying people to interview? How will it affect your company as a whole? Of course, there’s more, but you have to press play to get boo’d.
Listen in and let us know your thoughts (and your spooky stories; validation helps everyone).
Listening Time: 28 minutes
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Ladies and gentlemen this is William Tincup. You are listening to the RecruitingDaily podcast. Today we have Jerry on from AMS and we are going to be talking about a great topic, ghosting and hourly hiring. We all heard about it but Jerry’s going to take us to this wonderful world. I can’t wait to learn from him. I can’t wait for us all to learn from him actually. Why don’t we jump right into introductions. Jerry, would you introduce both yourself and AMS?
Hey William, thank you and thanks for this opportunity. Hi everyone I’m Jerry Collier. I’m the managing director of Alexander Mann Solutions, product division. Alexander Mann Solutions is probably the biggest and oldest RPO and advisory firm in the world. This year, we’ll probably reach almost as many as 7,000 colleagues or TA professionals. About two years ago, we set off on our journey to create and deploy products ourselves and I lead that division.
Then you’ll have a wonderful hourly product as well, which we’ve done a podcast on so we won’t go too far into that but I do want to talk about this topic. Ghosting and hourly hiring. Let’s just start at the top. What are you all noticing? What are your clients noticing as it relates to ghosting?
To know what it say, it’s an incredibly challenging topic. It’s never more so than now William. Let’s step back and talk. What is ghosting? Ghosting is the practice of ignoring someone, which is [inaudible 00:02:20] and then you’re getting this debate and people say-
It’s not genetic Jerry [crosstalk 00:02:27] This is learned behavior is what, let’s just make sure we’re all on the same page here. This is learned behavior, but it’s a practice. I think that’s very important for people to understand.
It’s the practice of ignoring someone. You get the debate sometimes that ghosting is viewed as kindness. Let’s discontinue a communication so that someone doesn’t have to be rejected.
No, that makes sense.
No, of course it does [inaudible 00:02:55] it doesn’t
Then you get into Caspering. Have you heard of Caspering?
I have not, do tell.
Caspering is a smaller version of ghosting, as in Casper the ghost. This is about gentle rejection and it’s almost a fade-out in communications where again, this is the practice of fading out your communication so that you’re not ignoring them. You’re just gently ignoring them over time.
Not communicating as you should be as we all know as adults. Now, I want to ask, and this is a dumb question. Is this both directions? Is bi-directional with candidates with recruiters and recruiters with candidates? Or is it slightly one way?
You look at a report this year, three in four employers said they had ghosted a job seeker in the past year. On the other side, coming into 2021, there was a 70% increase in employers saying that they were be ghosted by applicants. So it’s both ways. You’ve got practice by employers who are ghosting. You have practice or maybe we’ve conditioned job seekers to this as well, by the way. There are job seekers out there who are ghosting too.
It doesn’t really matter how we got here to some degree, unless we want to try and learn from history, which I’m not sure we do. We’re here now and you and I have, if we go back to December of 19 or pre COVID, if you will. As a candidate driven market even in hourly. It was a candidate driven market and all of a sudden COVID hits. There are parts of hourly that pick up clearly but most of hourly got severely hit. Now we’re on, not the other side of COVID because I think COVID is going to be a part of our lives forever, but we’re on the other side of at least a lot of vaccinated people and now it’s a candidate-driven market again.
Especially in hourly, I’ll speak to the industries I follow here in the States, at least. It’s hard to find people for retail jobs and restaurant jobs. The folks that worked in restaurants pre COVID, they’re not coming back. There a lot of… not all of course. A large majority of them are like, “Yeah, thanks. Do something different.” I’ve learned to do something different and not going back. What do you all see from hourly candidates in particular.
We agree with your view there, William. In my 25 years in the industry, I’ve never known a market so challenging as we’re in right now. You just walk down any high street and you’ll see everybody with a window cling saying, we’re hiring. We’re hiring, we’re changing our salaries. You’ve got line cooks being paid $25 an hour. You’ve got the stories of people saying, “Look, we’ll give you $50 just to come in for an interview.” You’ve got people taking out interviews because they’re saying, “Look, we’ve got to get more competitive so literally if you can do the shift start tomorrow and…” You’ve got all things changing right now in the market as people try and scramble to reopen.
Does that change the behavior for recruiters? If the market is that tight, will there be less ghosting from the recruiters?
I think, yes, that should be less ghosting-
I like how you put a caveat on that.
… from recruiters. If the recruiters on… if you’ve got a high-volume recruiter with 150 job openings, their job is to fill those jobs and quickly. They’re going to have to take some shortcuts. As long as we aren’t putting so much work on recruiters that they’re having to cut corners and they can actually do a great job and be kind and gentle and build candidates up. I think the hiring experience, I don’t like the word process because I think processes… you process chickens, can’t process humans. That’s one fundamental issue we have here. The recruiting experience should be a positive one. People should come out of it feeling, “Hey, I didn’t get the job but I’ve learned something about myself or I really liked that brand. I like the way they’re thinking at the moment.”
It should be an enhancing experience. It feels like so many times the job seeker, the candidate gets broken by the process. They don’t get back, there’s a gap in communication, someone pops into their inbox. They wander off now on seeking that job. They get an offer but there’s no fulfillment afterward, there’s no follow-up afterward. I think fundamentally, we’ve got to rip up the word and stop talking about process and start thinking about the experience that we want for those jobs seekers and how we create that experience at scale because that’s the challenge here is it’s doing it at scale.
Of course, if you’re hiring for a taco stand, yeah that’s one thing but if you’re hiring for a large restaurant chain, you’ve got to fix it systemically and programmatically and focus more on the experience. I wonder if ghosting… if we went back and did a chicken and egg thing, I wonder if ghosting has been somewhat retaliatory. If it started somewhere and I’ll blame one group or another but if it started one place and then retaliation, then ghosting happened. Or if you think that ghosting is just laziness.
I would be hard-pressed to say that a company out there has in some way had a practice that says, look if the job seeker doesn’t look like this, we’re never going to speak to them. I would be hard pressed to say that you would find that, that when your back’s against the wall, when there’s a lot going on, you’re maybe under resourced and you’re overwhelmed with requisitions, you might have to cut some corners. I understand there are extenuating and exceptional circumstances but I’d be really hard pressed to… I’d be really disappointed if there’s a company out there has actually defined their experiences. If it looks like there’s good news, if they look over there, just ignore all of them. They have a practice of ignoring someone.
Do I think it’s retaliatory on the candidate side? If a candidate has a really bad experience, once, twice, three times or as my daughter, who’s a junior just rising senior, who, who has applied to 60 internships before the summer, and got only heard back from one of those. The more you have that experience, the more your conditioned to poor practice, the more you’re conditioned to… I remember sitting with her and said, “Well, I haven’t heard back from this company for two months, but they’re not as bad as that company over there that I haven’t heard back from three months.” She’s almost conditioned to bad practice now. I’m not saying it’s retaliatory but it creates a… almost that condition that says, “Well, everyone’s really bad so I’ll just roll with it. I need an internship not a job.”
Yeah, and again if this is just one of those deals where I don’t want to give bad news, so instead of getting bad news, I’ll give no news, from a recruiting perspective or recruiter or hiring manager’s perspective. It’s like, you know what? I just don’t want to give them bad news. I remember a hundred years ago, being at network events and talking about VC’s in a fairly similar matter. They never really say no, they just don’t say yes. If you go to them with an idea, then, “Well you don’t have a management team.” They don’t say no, they just keep pulling other things out that you need, because they don’t want to say no to you.
That’s the fade out the Caspering [crosstalk 00:12:06] where I just [inaudible 00:12:10] fades out. It doesn’t have to be binary. It shouldn’t have to be good news or bad news. I think if you build your experiences say, if someone’s going to invest five minutes, 15 minutes, an hour in engaging with us, based on what we learned about that person, we should be able to personalize. This is how we’ve approached that with hourly automated this. It says we learned some stuff here. If we’re going to say, “Sorry, you’re not quite a fit for us.” Let’s say, “Here are the things that would really help you in finding a job like this in the future.” Let’s get back in the process. It doesn’t have to be good news or bad news. It could be news and hints and tips and help.
I think we just need to reposition recruiting that says, I think it’s too much about zeros and ones. Either yes we do or no, we don’t.” Actually, there’s a different way and I think if we all created a movement that said, we’re going to find ways to build people up. Every job seeker who in retail to your example is a potential customer. We’re going to try to give them an experience befitting of our brands. Our brand experiences, if they walked into a sandwich shop and ask for a sandwich, I’m not going to turn my back and just ignore you. I’m going to serve you. Why shouldn’t I be the same for the… why do we have a different approach for the job seeker?
At the moment we’re just turning our back or we’re all over them saying, “Hey, come on, come and join our team, come around the counter, put this apron on the staff.” We’re polarized, it’s either one or the other and I think there’s got to be another way. This is let’s tell you what it would be like to be part of this team but know if you’re looking for this kind of job, let’s tell you the things might be helpful for you to think about in future applications.
Well, what I like about that again, you got it back to the experience. Let someone have a positive experience, that’s the one thing that we do talk about at least, I don’t know if we do a great job [inaudible 00:14:26]. In the hourly market that we serve, these are also customers. If they have a bad experience, take your daughter as her internship application experience, those 60 firms, some of them are going to be consumer brands, if not all of them. She’s going to have a negative predisposition to them as a buyer, not just as a candidate. She’s had the candidate experience, if you will, but she’s going to now have that… and that’s going to be in her head. That doesn’t go away tomorrow. She doesn’t just wake up a year later and go, “Yeah, gosh. I remember when you guys completely ghosted me, but yeah, sure I’ll spend a thousand dollars with you on something.”
All these job seekers are potential commentators on your brand and whilst they might not commentate today, they may be in a bar with their friends later, they maybe in a restaurant or taking a flight. Remember those things we used to do. They’re going to make a comment to someone and that comment is going to get shared with someone else. Everyone is a commentator on your brand. If you’re hiring at scale, tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands of people and touching hundreds of thousands, millions of Americans as part of that, that’s a hell of a force out there who may be commentating in a negative way on your brand. I think it’s a massive opportunity for all of us in recruiting to step up and really be partners to the business.
Fixing it ish, let’s go down a couple of pathways. Do you think that there’s a zero tolerance? Because you did mention extenuating circumstance. So both sides, let’s take that off the table. Somebody who’s in a car accident. Yeah, okay, fair enough. Ghosting happens there or a lack of communication happens there on both sides. It’s totally forgivable and understandable but outside of extenuating circumstances for candidates or for recruiters, should we move to a zero tolerance policy? If not something like that, what do you think fixes this?
Yeah, again I think we’re in an interesting time when do we really care about being kind to people? We’ve got so many jobs to fill. I get there’s a commercial aspect to it, but there’s a human aspect to hiring as well that doesn’t go away. Let’s take ourselves out of the context of today. I genuinely believe that we absolutely need to find a way that says… I’ve run a lot of recruiting operations and I’ve seen a lot of recruiting operations. There are lots of key metrics around how to run a recruiting operation but if we had data-driven alerts that said, “Hey, William applied to 20 minutes ago and Noah has responded. Pop, William replied 30 minutes ago and Noah has responded. Pop pop it goes up the chain. William replied 40 minutes ago [inaudible 00:17:57]
If we’ve got tools to actually monitor and try to that zero tolerance, which just says anyone who’s interested in our mission, being part of our mission. Joining our workforce, becoming a colleague, they deserve us to find a way to communicate something. For that to find, not just a thanks for your application, click here and join our talent community, whatever that means to a job seeker by the way, but actually find a way that actually you can take the little bit you’ve learned and give something back. If you’re creative and if you put measurements around it, I think we can create a movement that says, “There’s a third way which is we can transform the experience here for everyone involved and give back and be kind and be gentle and make the experience what our brand would desire.”
Because again, it’s not someone coming into… If someone’s coming into your sandwich shop, I don’t want my team turning their back and just ignoring them and that’s what we’re doing in many cases. That’s, can’t believe that’s just not good enough. I agree with you, I think we should try and have a movement, which is at zero tolerance. Stop talking just about candidate experience but let’s put some… Especially around this hourly workforce that have been through an incredible 24 months of lots of jobs, lots of candidates to then there were lots of candidates and no jobs, now we’ve got lots of jobs, no candidates. It’s going to go at a morph again as we get through the back end of 2021.
I think we should create a movement that says “We’ve got to get away from the binary, which is yes you’re hired or no, you’re dis positioned and you’re out of our process.” To, “Let’s design an experience that actually measures how quickly we get back to people, how deliberately and let’s find a way to make this process human.” Because if we had infinite recruiters, I doubt any ETA leader they want all of the job seekers spoken to quickly and the experience for that job seeker to be branded [haunt sing 00:20:21] but they haven’t gone infinite resources. There’s got to be a different way of doing it. We thought of one way using our product in hourly to deliver that personalization of kindness and scale, but there are other ways. We’ve got to care to make a difference.
I wouldn’t put you on a hot seat of saying, do you think that it would be easier to fix this with new recruiters, because in my mind, I’m thinking some of the recruiters that have been doing this for a long time, they might be set in their ways. They might already have created some bad habits as it relates to ghosting, that it might be just very difficult to go and re-engineer that. Now that’s being said in a candidate driven market, if they don’t adapt to they’re not going to be in a job for very long, no matter how much experience they have.
What advice do you give to young recruiters. People that are just getting into the industry for the first time and you have the opportunity to talk with them about what the experience should be for them, the hiring manager and candidates [inaudible 00:21:38]. Let’s look at it all through all three ways. Because you got fresh clay with a new recruiter. What’s your advice to them as it relates to this?
Whenever I’ve been asked to join… very privileged, whenever I’ve been asked to join our onboarding of new colleagues at AMS, I always end by talking about the word curious, be curious. I would say to recruiters, be curious. Walk the walk of a job seeker and a candidate. Look at the communication that you’re going to get. Look at those pauses, challenge yourself, again if this was someone who was… If you were approaching Amazon to buy a product, what would the apply process, the buy process look like it is that we’ve designed today. Would the communication be designed that way? If I was going into a sandwich shop and I was meeting someone over the counter and dealing with their requests, the sandwich order, is this how I would do it? Be curious about outside our industry, be curious inside our industry, walk the walk of the job seeker and the manager, because the manager on the other side are probably overwhelmed.
They’ve got shifts and rotas they’re trying to juggle all the time. There’s probably extra health and safety protocols in place, problems with supply chain at the moment. They’ve got challenges, they’re overwhelmed too. Walk the walk of the manager and the candidates and do it regularly. Don’t just do it once, do it regularly. Wherever you get something that you feel uncomfortable with, don’t walk by. Stop, escalate it, get creative, solve it, be human about recruiting because recruiting is about being… It’s a human experience.
I remember the time when I got off of my job at AMS 25 years ago, I was so delighted. The opportunity for recruiters is impact people’s lives with spectacular things called a job offer, who doesn’t get excited by that. It’s a really amazing thing to be a recruiter. There were technology and things that hopefully enable that recruiter to be that recruiter. To get out and then to walk with the manager, walk with the job seeker all the time and really understand the opportunity and help qualify and create interest more and more, actually less about qualification and more about creating interest in this job candidate driven marketplace. The candidates become available for you to hire.
I would say to all aspire and recruiters, this is an amazing profession. You are positively impacting lives but let’s not leave people behind in the 10 great offers we’re making every week, let’s seek a hundred great experiences for the people who aren’t getting the jobs to. Let’s walk the walk for the job seeker and the manager, both who are overwhelmed right now, both who’ve got used to certain practices. Let’s take the new joiner to our industry. Let’s take the opportunity to think differently and think creatively and not make… Let’s destroy the process, let’s get that word out. Let’s talk about experience and let’s get creative around this because we can do things differently, we just need to challenge ourselves.
Wonderful advice. Thanks Jerry. One of the things I always tell a new recruit or fresh recruiter to the industry and also to a particular place is apply to a couple of jobs. Just go create some Gmail accounts and just go apply to jobs within the company and see what the experience is firsthand. Again, it’s important and I know that creates a little bit of noise in the system, which I’m not sure I like, but I want them to go through the process. Everything to your wisdom, it’s like get in their shoes. Walk in their shoes for just a little bit and find out what’s really going on. You can do that otherwise by the way, if you don’t want to apply to some of your own jobs, you can call candidates.
You could go back into the ATS and just say, “Hey, listen, I’m new and I’m calling a hundred candidates. I have nothing to offer you. I just want to find out how was your experience? What did you learn about our firm and what did we learn about you?”
Already, the response will go, “Wow, no one’s ever done that. No one’s ever rung me and said, how was it for you?” We might send a survey. We might do, but we never, no one says, “How was it, how did it feel?” [crosstalk 00:26:36] saying click one to 10. How do they feel? They go, “Thank you for ringing because do you know what? I felt a bit abandoned. I was disappointed at the end. Not just because I didn’t get the job but because I thought that your brand stood for something else.” I think collecting that information is hugely valuable and then acting on it.
I love it. Well, let’s leave it there. Jerry wonderful, wonderful discussion. Thank you so much for breaking this down for us and also getting us to rethink process. I think I’ll take something away from that personally because I do talk about a process a lot when I talk to folks and then I like the way that you’ve repositioned that and think, okay process again. However, thinking about their experience, recruiters experience, hiring managers experience, candidate experience. Thinking about all of the multitude of experiences and micro experiences and thinking about those and how do we make those better? I love that, just absolutely love that. Thank you so much for your time today.
William, thank you so much. Stay safe, stay well.
Absolutely and thanks for everyone listening to the RecruitingDaily podcast until next time.
William is the President & Editor-at-Large of RecruitingDaily. At the intersection of HR and technology, he’s a writer, speaker, advisor, consultant, investor, storyteller & teacher. He's been writing about HR and Recruiting related issues for longer than he cares to disclose. William serves on the Board of Advisors / Board of Directors for 20+ HR technology startups. William is a graduate of the University of Alabama at Birmingham with a BA in Art History. He also earned an MA in American Indian Studies from the University of Arizona and an MBA from Case Western Reserve University.