New Hires Ghosting | By Jeff Altman

New hires aren't showing up for work.


2 months ago|6 min read


By Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter

A recent article in the Wall Street Journal called, “Hiring is Hard Enough. Now New Workers Are Vanishing Before They Even Start” highlighted the issue of new hires not showing up for their first day. The introduction to the article tells the story of a no show for first day orientation and summarizes the firm’s learning — a job isn’t filled until a new hire shows up for work.” If you’re a contingency recruiter, you would also add in the statement “and works there for 90 days” (to reflect the guaranty period you offer your client (the new hire will work for you for 90 days for us to earn our fee in its entirety).

It relays stories of a firm speeding up its hiring process after realizing its offers were being turned down too frequently (it may not be the speed of the process, but your wage scale), a cleaning service that couldn’t get people to show up for paid training and 80% just stop showing up (Can you believe it. People don’t dream of a life cleaning as a career for them!).

Embedded in the story are two sentences about new hires: “They claimed they discovered the pay was lower or the hours or conditions different than what they were told. Some even complained that the hiring companies had previously ignored them after interviews or applications.”

One person commented, “This seems to be the case with most of my friends who recently switched jobs as businesses come out of the pandemic. Positions are being presented as remote during the interview only to find out that it’s “remote-ish” after accepting an offer.” The desperation to fill positions makes hiring managers think they need to take shortcuts and lie to people in order to get them to accept an offer and join.

I worked in recruiting for a long time before transitioning to becoming a No BS career coach. One mistake firms make is leaving new hires alone between offer acceptance and start date. I know I checked in with new hires and if they did not respond to my calls I would give my clients a heads up of a potential problem so they would not be surprised by a no show on Day 1, If you ignore people between offer acceptance and start date, they’ve given notice and someone else is whispering in their ear that they have a better job for them while you are ignoring them.

One person shared their experience in a comment. “I never once had a company keep in contact with me between offer & start date. One had me relocate to another state and start 1 1/2 months AFTER I accepted the offer and I never heard from anyone till I walked through the door at the branch I was assigned to.” This is not uncommon.

One person summarized the situation well. “We have lost the “human” element on both sides of the equation. Sometimes, yes, the hiring process feels automated and detached, but at the end of the day, they are hiring a real person-you-and they expect that real person to show up.” I can agree but people are objectified by referring to them as “applicants” or “candidates.”

The language of the process almost gives the people in the process the freedom to be non-communicative with “the candidate” because they are outsiders trying to get inside of our firm. We are important. You are rushing our fraternity/sorority for the privilege of becoming a pledge and being abused by us. At least at one of the Greeks, you know when hell week is over. When you interview with a company, you don’t. After all, many companies will tell people, ”We’ll have a decision by Friday,” only to go dark and not surface for several more weeks while they interview “one more person” or “a few more people.”

When I worked in recruiting, I would tell the three jokes of the business:

How can you tell an applicant is lying to you? Answer: Their lips are moving.

How can you tell an employer/hiring manager/HR recruiter is lying to you? Answer: Their lips are moving.

How can you tell a contingency recruiter is lying to you? Yep, their lips are moving. The good ones are the messengers of the other party’s lies. They don’t add lies of their own.

Everyone is posturing. People want to be chosen and tend to “embellish” what they are capable of. It took me a while to realize that my institutional customers did that, too. It came to me when I realized I was never told by one of my clients, “Jeff, I have a problem. I’ve taken over this group of adequate employees. They’re nice people but don’t seem to care anymore. My predecessor was fired and so was hers. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out my rear is on the line and I need to hire someone to help me save it.”

Instead, they put on a happy smile button face and talk about “a terrific team of people. Have I mentioned we’re like family here?” You don’t tell them they are like the families in all those holiday movies that fight with one another all the time. You don’t tell people what happened to the last 4 people who occupied that box in the org chart other than to say, “They left for a better opportunity.”

30% of new hires leave within 6 months of joining. Hiring managers ARE misrepresenting jobs and work environments to people. How is it possible that the pay is lower or hours and conditions are different? Answer: Managers are lying to people and people find out. When someone interviews with a firm, the process is objectifying and dehumanizing. The first company that acts on this will have an advantage.

The most liked comment to the article on the WSJ website was, “I must have missed the article on employers not providing feedback to interview candidates months after interviewing, sending rejection letters. — where basically the employers are effectively ghosting candidates during the interview cycle. This is a 2-way street. Hiring manager decides to pass on candidate. Informs HR via software. HR puts candidate in rejection queue for HR software to send email. HR software sends email only after position is closed out (ie filled).”

People at companies involved with hiring need to bring the humanity back into the process. Onboarding and orientation should begin a day or two after the offer is accepted and people paid for their time. There needs to be a dedicated person during the window between offer acceptance and start date to be reaching out to people, maintaining contact and getting their questions answered. The lying needs to stop and hiring managers need to be the ones who begin the change. If you are going to go back on a statement, you made about when you will decide, tell people and keep to your word. No more hiding!

Treat people like your sister, brother or other loved one. Heck! Treat them as much as you love your favorite pet! The change in outcomes will be fantastic.

One more thing. For the company that was getting many job offers rejected, you are not paying market rates for the jobs you are trying to fill. You don’t need to rush people through the process to the offer stage for them to reject it. You need to understand the salaries in your geographic area.

For all companies, with inflation at 8.5%, it takes an 11% increase for people to stay equal to inflation on their purchasing power. I know you can’t afford to do that with everyone but you can target key performers and treat them to raises that exceed inflation.

Ⓒ The Big Game Hunter, Inc., Asheville, NC 2022


Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter is a career and leadership coach who worked as a recruiter for more than 40 years. He is the host of “No BS Job Search Advice Radio,” the #1 podcast in iTunes for job search with more than 2300 episodes. He also hosts Job Search TV on YouTube, and Amazon, as well as on for Apple TV and 90+ smart sets.

I do a livestream on LinkedIn, YouTube (on the account) and on Facebook (on the Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter page) Tuesdays and Fridays at 1 PM Eastern. You can send your questions about job search, hiring better, management, leadership or to get advice about a workplace issue to me through LinkedIn messaging.You can also message me through chat during the approximately 30 minute show.

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Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter, (he/him/his), has helped companies hire talent and people find work. More than 40 years of recruiting experience assisting individuals to improve their career as an executive recruiter. Now, a career coach, leadership coach, and executive coach. I coach over Zoom... read more



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