Bear with us for a moment while we stray from our usual topic of maritime recruitment and dip our toes into the world of online dating. If you’ve been anywhere near a dating app in the last couple of years, unless you’re one of the lucky ones, you probably know what it’s like to be ghosted by a potential date or perhaps even someone you were seeing.
It’s a confusing and hurtful experience - and one that makes you automatically think “Why me?! What did I do?”
And while being ghosted on a personal level can leave us momentarily doubting our personality or looks (until we realize that the ghoster wasn’t worth it anyway!) what is it like being a victim of job candidate ghosting?
What does ghosting mean? And what is candidate ghosting?
To understand job candidate ghosting, especially if you’re fortunate enough to have not been ghosted in the dating sense of the word, a brief explanation of the term might be in order.
Ghosting in a romantic capacity means that the person you have been chatting with online, or even spending time with in real life, suddenly stops getting in touch and ends all contact with you. But, and here’s the kicker - without saying goodbye or letting you know why. In fact it’s now such a part of modern dating that the latest definition of the word now appears in most dictionaries.
At its crux, ghosting means to ‘disappear without saying goodbye’ and to ‘cease all communications.’ And unfortunately it’s become an issue in recruitment too.
The specifics of job candidate ghosting in maritime recruitment
Just like its romantic (or should that be unromantic?) counterpart, job candidate ghosting refers to an applicant cutting communications with a potential employer.
Just picture it: you’ve advertised your vacant seafarer jobs - let’s say you’re looking for a chief engineer. The candidate looks good on paper - their resume is spot on, they have all the right qualifications, their seaman’s book and other documentation is valid. They even have the right visas!
You arrange an interview. They’re personable, professional and sound like a great fit for your vessel. Your maritime recruitment efforts are going well so far, so you negotiate salary, offer them the contract and then...then...nothing. Your calls and messages go unanswered and unreturned. They’ve seemingly disappeared into thin air. Like a ghost.
If this has happened to you as a shipowner, ship manager or maritime recruitment agent, you’ll know just how frustrating it is. Like our heartbroken dating app user, you’re left wondering “Was it me? What did I do wrong?!”
And if you think “It’ll never happen to me…” don’t be so sure. According to research conducted by LinkedIn, a whopping 95% of recruiters surveyed across the United Kingdom say they’ve been ghosted by a candidate.
The cost of job candidate ghosting to shipping companies
If your shipping company has been ghosted by a great applicant not only is it annoying, it’s also a massive waste of your time. You’ve lost out on a potentially great candidate (perhaps even the best candidate for the job) and now you’ve got to go back to square one, start the maritime recruitment process all over again, pick up the phone, and call the candidate who placed second on your shortlist.
That means not only are you having to ‘settle’ for second best (to borrow another dating term) but your time to hire is now longer - and your crew change over date creeping ever closer.
The other issue is that once a candidate has ghosted you, you may as well write them off. They’re a lost opportunity. There’s no need to have them in your database anymore because who’s to say they won’t pull the same trick again?
And - even more irritatingly - you can’t even ask them what the issue was so you can fix any potential problems in your hiring process.
Therefore the best thing you can do to try and minimize being ghosted by a candidate is to take steps to prevent it from happening. Read on for Martide’s suggestions.
3 Actionable tips to stop candidates from ghosting you
1. Improve your candidate experience
We’ve talked before about the different ways you can improve candidate engagement and therefore the candidate experience. From reaching out to potential hires with personalized emails to asking the right questions in an interview, making your applicants feel like you are genuinely interested in them will make all the difference.
In fact, you shouldn’t really be treating your applicants any differently to the way you treat your clients.
After all, it makes sense: you want to show a potential recruit that your company is a great one to work for. If you treat them poorly during the recruitment stage “just” because they’re a candidate, they’re going to assume that you’ll treat them poorly once the contract is signed and they’re onboard your vessel. And that means they’ll be more likely to ghost you during the recruitment stage.
2. Let candidates know what to expect
Keeping someone in the loop, keeping them posted, staying in touch, reaching out to them. Whatever you call it, letting candidates know what to expect at every stage of their maritime recruitment process will help them stay motivated and engaged. Again, this goes back to improving their personal experience of dealing with you as a company.
Being kept in the dark is no one’s idea of a good time. And this can be caused by two things: either you’re just not getting back to your potential hires, or you’re communicating with them using the wrong channels. Maybe they don’t check their LinkedIn messages. Maybe they’re at sea and unable to answer their cell phone.
They might not have actually ghosted you - they might just not be looking in the right place for your messages.
The best way to ensure that all parties are seeing and reading messages is to use just one previously agreed upon channel. For example, at Martide, our maritime recruitment platform has an inbuilt messaging function that allows shipowners, seafarers and manning agents to send and receive messages relating to a vacant position or contract. Easy!
3. Streamline your recruitment process for a quicker time to hire
You know that time is of the essence when it comes to finding the right crew members for your vacant seafarer jobs. Your change over dates are an ever-present reminder of that! But are you doing everything you can to speed up your time to hire? After all, it will make your life easier if you can fill jobs faster, and it will stop many of your job candidates from ghosting you.
Look at it this way: seafarers need to line up their next contract as urgently as you need to man your vessel by a certain date.
The best way to reduce your time to hire is to ensure that your entire maritime recruitment process is streamlined and optimized from start to finish.
The minute you start receiving applications for your seafarer jobs, you need to start screening candidates and then scheduling interviews. In the maritime industry it’s likely that you’re already using phone, video or Skype interviews to speak to seamen, and that’s great - it’s quicker and easier to arrange.
But you still need to make sure the stages up to and after an interview run like clockwork too. That means using an Applicant Tracking System (ATS) that allows you to easily search and filter candidates so that you only have to screen those seafarers who are suitable for your position.
Once you’ve interviewed a candidate and decided they’re the right seafarer for your position, you’ll need to check their documents and decide their terms of salary and contract. You may even need to negotiate a little with them. Whatever you have to do, you need to do it quickly before the possibility of them ghosting you starts to rear its ugly head!
How can Martide help you exorcise ghostly candidates?!
Unfortunately candidate ghosting is a fact of modern recruitment. So how do you put those ghosts to rest and lower your chances of being haunted by candidates that vanish into thin air?
We’ve covered improving candidate engagement and speeding up your processes - but how?
That’s where using a software solution created especially for maritime recruitment comes into the picture.
Martide have designed and built an end to end platform that takes care of every step of your recruitment pipeline. From advertising your seafarer jobs for you through to signing contracts, ours is the ultimate maritime industry tool for finding the right candidates and lowering your time to hire.
The knock on effect of this, of course, being that your applicants are dealt with more quickly and efficiently, and are thereby less likely to disappear.
Talk to Martide today about how we can help your small to medium sized shipping company take the horror out of recruiting by finding qualified candidates who are far less likely to ghost you!