As many of us may know or have experienced, it’s a tight job market—less than four percent unemployment for the nation in general. As for produce, I think it’s tighter in some job categories and/or geographical areas. Needless to say, our team of Search Consultants is working harder and digging deeper to find great people. The supply of great people exceeds the demand of great people, to put it succinctly.
Okay, so why the “ghost story”? The hiring world is currently experiencing a behavior called “ghosting,” aka “job abandonment” to the HR community. This is when candidates are accepting jobs enthusiastically and then simply not showing up to work. I read about this happening in other sectors. “But surely it won’t happen in my (produce) industry,” I thought. Wrong!
I was surprised. Everyone in my office was surprised. The client was surprised. We thoroughly vetted the candidate, carefully checked his references, and the client met with him three times—once on the phone and then twice in person, including with their management group. He checked all the boxes...or at least all the important ones, and many more.
Back to the story. He accepted the job and asked for three weeks to move and provide his employer a bit more time. Three weeks placed his start-date just before a holiday weekend, so the employer suggested four weeks to make the transition and orientation easier for all. Fine, everything was agreed upon.
Well, you know where I’m going with this. Four weeks went by and it was his first day at his new job. Ghosted! Naturally, the employer was worried, and so were we. Both us and the employer had had some interaction with the candidate during the past month, and we had no indication of issues. Or did we? We each had late responses to calls and emails, but we knew that the candidate was “super busy” at work and was getting ready to move. It’s understandable.
Naturally, we called, emailed, texted, chatted, IM’ed, LinkedIned, and Facebooked him. We even checked hospitals and the county jail. Nothing. Ghosted!
The candidate finally returned a text and told us how a relative had become gravely ill and that he dropped everything to rush to her side. He then agreed to call the company on a particular date and time. Ghosted!
Needless to say, this ghost is gone and, hopefully, haunting another industry.
Since this “ghosting,” we have spent hours here reviewing our processes and all the interaction, steps, and possible clues preceding this “ghosting.” Some of our lessons are very recruiter-oriented while other takeaways can benefit companies and, yes, candidates, too. Here are the highlights:
Candidates, Why You Shouldn't Ghost:
1. The people market is just like the lettuce market (I’m from Salinas)—it fluctuates.
2. It may be the case that demand exceeds now, and at some point, it will be that supply will exceed.
3. Do not burn bridges.
4. Protect your reputation and your name.
5. Choose a new job carefully. Think it through before accepting. Yes is yes...not maybe.
6. If you accept a job, then do it. If somehow you do change your mind, then tell the recruiter ASAP, or the employer, if no recruiter is involved.
7. If something happens during the period between when you accept and when you start, then communicate ASAP. Recruiters and employers alike understand that stuff happens. We’re people, too!
8. No negative surprises—whenever possible.
So, what is that potentially scary ending I referenced in the beginning? Karma! This is a small business world, and your reputation and deeds—good and bad—can follow you for years. You’ll make mistakes, we all do, but just try to do the right thing and do your best. Communicate. Don’t ghost! You don’t want your ghosting to haunt you later. It will!
Employers, Avoid Ghosting By:
1. Once an offer is accepted, get that person in and on the team ASAP. 2018 is a lot different than 2008. Adjust your perspective and practices. Time kills deals!
2. Watch for small clues that may be signs of integrity and/or self-discipline issues. They don’t have to be “deal killers,” but it’s good to dig deeper and know what you’re getting into.
3. Again, there are no perfect candidates. ZERO! So, it’s good to identify the flaws and know what you’re getting. Just like marriage, there are no perfect boyfriends or girlfriends, but we marry the person whose positives outweigh their negatives. It’s exactly the same thing here. The tough thing is that our “dating” (aka interviews and references) is much shorter than the two-plus-two of people dating.
4. Reciprocity—for years employers have been ignoring resumes that come into their company. Not even a “Thank you, we’ll get back to you when we have a fit/opening.” Perhaps this practice needs to stop. Perhaps it’s time for the Golden Rule: treat employee candidates as we would like to be treated.
5. Once a candidate has accepted a job, the “courtship” is still alive. During the time between when they accept and when they start, it’s important to stay in touch and keep them engaged. If they’re in your area, or coming in during a move, share a meal and get to know them. Make the effort to connect.
6. Once they’ve started, make sure your onboarding process includes times to stay in touch and engaged. Another tactic is to assign a “buddy” to help them get comfortable and up to speed.
7. Back-ups can be important. When releasing the #2 and #3 candidates, try to do it with grace and kindness. You may be calling them back...as the new #1.
“I ain’t afraid of no ghost!” Or so goes the song, but the truth is that I am afraid...and motivated to avoid them.
When it comes through your door
Unless you just want some more
I think you better call (Ghostbusters)
A better idea than Ghostbusters: Follow these steps and avoid ghosts/ghosting all together!
Rex Lawrence, Founder and President of Joe Produce, was born & raised in Salinas, CA. His 28 years in the produce industry includes positions in senior sales, marketing & management for some of the industry’s leaders. Rex and his team truly understand that finding the perfect “fit” is about more than matching a skill set with specific job requirements.