Holden Jones Blog - The Death of Professional Courtesy

The Death of Professional Courtesy

Why is ghosting (vanishing from a professional or personal relationship by not responding to communication) becoming such a problem? We are struggling to comprehend the cause and where this problem could lead us. Let’s provide a little context; Holden Jones is a recruitment agency and yes, we know the terrible reputation recruiters have for dodging and hiding from candidates. It is a reprehensible business practice and brings shame on the entire recruitment industry, not only the useless recruiter lacking the courage to make a phone call.

Holden Jones was established over twenty years ago as an alternative recruiter to the familiar market players and the poor business practices that were emerging in the recruitment world in the mid-nineties. Recruiters were garnering a reputation for ignoring candidates and lacking the courtesy you would expect from a professional. For this very reason Holden Jones was established and we hoped to lead the way with a more ethical brand of recruitment agency. I am happy to report that we have never wavered from our mission and we continue to uphold the highest standards we can in recruitment, if only the same could be said of candidates.

Why are we bringing this to your attention now? Over the last few weeks we have experienced candidate ghosting more than we would ever care to imagine and it is now reached embarrassing numbers. We would like to say that the candidates were being considered for junior-level positions, they were young and should have known better. If only we could say that. One of our recent ghosts had interviewed for a very senior-level accounting position with a prestigious organisation. Meetings were held, interviews were conducted and the client was sufficiently impressed to issue an offer. Unfortunately, we were never able to present the offer to the candidate as they did as ghosts do and vanished into thin air.

Our client tried to make contact. We sent emails, SMSs, phone calls (of course), even WhatsApp messages were met with silence. Our client’s attempts to reach the candidate were fruitless. Thankfully, we have an excellent relationship with our clients and this particular company understood that this was out of our control. This ere was the professional courtesy?

Has the world evolved and left Holden Jones behind? Are rudeness and bad manners acceptable business practice? In researching this article we have read stories about the sharp increase in anxiety disorders and how this is affecting how we communicate (more messaging, less calling), and for the anxious we understand there can be problems communicating, but what about the rude and discourteous?

Is there an ignorance of etiquette? Do we need training on how to be professional? Or, perhaps, are some just cowards who want to avoid confrontation? Are we raising a generation of snowflakes? Should we introduce recruitment “safe spaces” for recruiters and candidates who can’t face the realities of the modern world? Perhaps there is a lack of appreciation for what a recruiter does and how much work is involved to get a candidate just to an interview. Recruiters are humans too; when a candidate ghosts a recruiters there is a thought process we go through:

  • Our first concern is for a candidate’s physical welfare;
  • Our second concern is for a candidate’s mental welfare;
  • Our third concern is that we don’t look like stalkers trying to track down a candidate;
  • Our fourth concern is for the state of the world we live in.

We know we’re not alone and there are many recruiters having to contend with ghost candidates. Our initial concern is for the recruitment industry and how it might affect it in the long-term. Our secondary concern is for the world and where we might end up if we are surrounded with people unable to communicate with one another.