Tinder for talent

Tinder for Talent

At a very entertaining session run by Liz Mackay, Global Head of Talent Acquisition for DSM at #Unleash18 last week, I was introduced to the concept of Tinder for Talent.  As you might imagine I am not in the Tinder demographic, so was expecting eye watering revelations.

Indeed the language has changed, some of the perceptions have shifted, but anyone who has been in HR and recruitment for as long as I have will recognise that the behaviour probably hasn’t.

Glossary of  Tinder for Talent Terms 

Essentially she described the way candidates are interacting with employers on job search which is also found on the dating site Tinder. For the uninitiated here is a glossary of terms.


Now I did know this one. This is when a candidate just disappears without a word. No text, mail, What’s App, call. Nada.  They are just not that into you!  But don’t like to say.

The thinking behind ghosting is that the person who is being “ghosted” will pick up the vibe and realise their romantic interest wants out, but doesn’t want to say so directly. Ghosting is a gender neutral, passive aggressive behaviour pattern and probably a  telling commentary on the person’s communication style.  Some perceive it as a way of not hurting anyone’s feelings.

What happens is that the ghostee feels let down, confused and even betrayed


Benching is apparently very different to ghosting. This happens when the person you’re dating (or believe you are in a relationship with) gradually starts disappearing from your life and distancing themselves. You don’t realise your relationship is over until you hear they are with someone else. I’ve known marriages end that way. The bencher strings the benchee along with  cute messages, just enough to keep them interested, but never anything meaningful. You probably only hear from them when they are bored and out of other options.

For the benchee this is very distressing, humiliating and even annoying. You have no idea if you are single or not and can’t make plans. This strategy is older than even my hills.

Ever thus 

The reality is that this has always gone on to some degree. Ghosting and benching have always happened but were called other things. Ghosting used to be called the “slow no” or MIA to cover a candidate who had formally expressed interest, it could be up to the point of talking compensation and benefits and then… a big fat nothing. I  have heard a whole host of reasons after the event from personal and family issues, to counter offers from their exiting employer. I have sent out any number of final mails giving deadlines requesting an answer, saying that no response would be received as negative.    

Benching manifests itself in many forms. You think you have the ideal candidate and they come up with little negotiation strategies related to benefits (I’ve even had requests for golf club fees) vanity job titles, reporting relationship and location changes, all of which had been clearly stated in any offer and profile and seemingly agreed. Quite often the individual was testing the market and never had any intention of moving.

Sometimes they bench and then ghost.

Candidate driven market

Liz Mackay describes the very positive counter action DSM took to balance these worrying trends in the recruitment cycle. This included an action packed employer branding video called ” Push your limits” with a female super hero, which I was very pleased to see.

So what has changed?  Quite simply, the market.

Today, probably after10 years of being in an employer driven market, the tide has turned and  we are in a period of low unemployment, top talent is in the driving seat.

Hiring managers and recruiters alike have for years been guilty of, and criticised for, ghosting and benching.

Market forces

You have heard of the CV black hole to describe a situation where companies couldn’t be bothered setting up an automated response on their ATS. No news is worse than bad news for candidates. Ghosting for job seekers has been chronic for years.

Candidate reported being called for seven or more interviews, taking time off work and incurring expenses, only to be dumped on the altar, were common place. One client calculated 40 hours of interview and assessments, then the organisation offered her 10% less than her current salary.

Many believed they were about to receive an offer only to hear nothing for months.  They then saw a sector peer change their LinkedIn profile with an update about the role they were interviewing and hoping for.

In a candidate driven market high potential talent is also able to leverage scarcity in salary negotiations. 

Karma finds its way 

Whether candidate or employer, there is no substitute for creating or participating in an effective recruitment process which is respectful. Candidates are currently in the power positions, but like any economic cycle that will change and the balance will shift again.

Remember, karma has a tendency to bite you in the bum.

If you need to attract top talent – get in touch now! 


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