Dating and job hunting - are the lines blurring?

Dating and job hunting - are the lines blurring?
1 Apr 2022

Written by Helen Jackson, Commerical Director

With the rise of video conferencing came the increase in virtual job interviews. During the pandemic people experienced the entire hiring process online, from application through to remote on-boarding. This type of communication removes a lot of the human interaction and can make a job hunt very impersonal.

Similarly, dating has evolved over the years. With apps like Tinder, Hinge and Bumble having a combined user database of over 300 million it’s clear that matchmaking has gone fully digital.

Essentially, dating and job hunting both consist of two people looking to find the perfect match. Two scenarios that once seemed very different, are increasingly seeing similarities. Advances in technology and the impact of covid has changed the world of hiring. Terms like ‘Catfishing’ and ‘Ghosting’ that were previously only found in the dating world are now becoming more commonplace in the workplace.

What is job catfishing?

It’s always frustrating when things aren’t as they seem…introductory offers, hotel rooms, the amount of crisps in a bag. We’re all familiar with these types of disappointment, yet they’re still very infuriating.

Imagine your disappointment when you start a new job and you’ve looking forward to the role, the benefits, and the team. But you soon start to realise that this was all smoke and mirrors.

Job catfishing is defined as when a company isn’t entirely truthful with its candidates in the job description. Some common examples include advertising a role as ‘fully remote’ when there is still some expectation for the candidate to be in the office.

Why is job catfishing on the rise?

With the market becoming increasingly competitive, it’s common to find employers ‘over promoting’ or catfishing roles to try and hook in talent. Dangling the carrot of hybrid and remote working is something that has become more commonplace recently and is used to draw in applicants. Businesses might advertise their role as fully remote as it allows them access to a wider talent pool, but this would be considered as catfishing when the candidate starts and soon realises that there is some expectation to be in the office. Catfishing can also apply to other areas of job ads including salary. Advertising roles with unrealistic upper salary limits can become challenging when the candidate starts to negotiate, and the employer has no real intention of offering the top end of the salary bracket.

Unfortunately, with the increases in the cost of living and the market remaining very competitive, I think we’ll see this tactic used even more to attract talent. It’s important that businesses understand the repercussions of job catfishing, not only on the individual but also on the business.

How can catfishing damage your business?

Embellishing and over-promoting a job may seem like a good idea that will allow you access to more candidates and ultimately fill the role quicker but it’s likely to cause you issues later down the line.

Just think about how you felt when you’ve been lied to or misled. Angry? Resentful? Frustrated? These are all the emotions that your workforce will feel once they become aware that everything you promised in the application and interview stage was false. These feelings can create demotivated and unproductive teams, but worse still they’re likely to lead to resignations. Catfishing your job adverts is almost never a good idea as the cost of having to re-hire if a candidate leaves after being overpromised something will be a bigger hit than a marginally longer initial hiring process.

How to avoid catfishing candidates

I can’t stress how important it is to be authentic and honest when recruiting. Presenting your business realistically will allow you to attract the most suitable candidates and ones you are more likely to retain.

Instead of creating benefits or aspects of the job that don’t truly exist, try focusing on the positives of the role and your company. Every candidate is different and therefore will be attracted to different parts of a job.

Hybrid and flexible working are a hot trend right now, but it’s important to remember that not everyone needs or wants this perk, there are still people who prefer to be in an office 5 days a week. Always showcase the best aspects and have faith that the right candidates will be interested.

What can candidates do if they've been catfished?

Candidates should thoroughly explore the job specification with the employer, or better still partner with a trusted recruiter to do it on your behalf. Our team of recruiters are experts and can help you identify the pro’s and con’s of any role and what is realistic.

I would also advise candidates to get written clarity on the working conditions, benefits or any financial promises ahead of accepting roles to be sure that any offerings are contractual so they don’t get stung later down the line.

If it’s too late and you’re already in the situation where your new employer has over-promised and under-delivered you have a few options:

  1. Give it time – if you’ve only been there a week or two then I would suggest waiting at least one month to determine whether things improve
  2. Speak to your manager – I suggest you attend the meeting with your manager well-equipped. Find the initial job spec and prepare examples of where you feel disappointed. Explain what you expected and how you feel and propose a plan on how to improve the situation.
  3. Move on – if you still don’t feel like you’re getting what you want from the role then it’s probably time to move on, just be prepared to explain your resignation to new employers if it’s within your probationary period.

Ghosting in the talent acquisition process

If you’ve heard of ghosting in relation to dating and relationships, then it’s easy enough to see how it lends itself to the world of employment. The dictionary definition of ‘ghosting’ is the practice of ending a personal relationship with someone by suddenly and without explanation withdrawing from all communication. In the hiring process this is becoming common with employers, with a recent study finding that over 75% of jobseekers have been ghosted by a company after a job interview. But it’s not just employers, candidates have also been found to ghost employers with some of them not even showing up on their first day of work.

What can employers do to avoid being ghosted?

Although you can't predict how a candidate or new hire will behanve there are some things you can do to reduce the chances of getting ghosted. It’s important to stay in contact with your new hire once you’ve offered. Notice periods can be anywhere from a week up to 3 months and that’s enough time for the individual to change their mind or receive a counter-offer from their current employer. To learn more about counter-offers and how to handle them see our blog post. I recommend staying in constant communication with your new hire, send them a message or better still invite them in to meet the team and look around the office. Maintaining communication will allow you to get a better idea of how they’re feeling and hopefully spot any issues early on.

Don't let ghosting haunt your applicants

This scenario can work both ways and as an employer you need to be responsible for keeping your candidates informed at all stages. As a recruiter we’re there to support and help you through this part of the process. We are experienced at delivering feedback and maintaining a positive relationship with the applicants.

If you fail to update your candidate about their application, particularly if they’ve not been successful then this can lead to have a negative impact. It might sound extreme, but not knowing about a role leaves an individual without closure and wondering why they weren’t successful. This is likely to knock their confidence and if they share their negative experience on social media or review sites this can be extremely detrimental to your company’s reputation.


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