- Job seekers often complained about being ghosted by prospective employers during the hiring process pre-pandemic, but the tide has shifted.
- Despite the apparent labor shortage and surplus job vacancies, more applicants are disappearing during the interview and hiring process.
- Employers may want to address ghosting by candidates and their own follow up process for all candidates.
The term “ghosting” refers to when someone ends all communication and contact with another person without any apparent warning or justification.
But the term ghosting – in the world of work – has previously been used to describe when hiring managers don’t get back to prospective employees.
Ghosting used to be a complaint of job searchers. Now, with the labor shortage, it seems candidates are ghosting prospective employers instead.
Who is being ghosted, and why?
It was once thought that only job seekers ghosted companies prior to the pandemic when the job market was incredibly hot, but according to a study conducted by Indeed, “it’s become clear that the disappearing act is no longer quite so one-sided: more employers are now ghosting job seekers too.”
Since the onset of the pandemic, this phenomenon has become increasingly common during the hiring process.
Both candidates and employers are to blame.
- Only 27% of employers say they haven’t ghosted a job seeker in the past year.
- Among job seekers, 28% said they have ghosted an employer, up from 18% in 2019.
- 76% of employers have been ghosted by candidates.
Some employers say candidates are cutting off communications early in the hiring process, even after an initial phone screen or interview. But others take it further, with one-quarter of employers reporting new hires no-showing on their first day of work.
If there’s a labor shortage, then why are potential employees ghosting hiring managers?
There is a surplus of jobs available at the moment, so workers can simply take their pick.
Social media platforms like LinkedIn have made it exceedingly easy for people to find job listings and email their résumés with just a few clicks.
A combination of deploying technology and the ease of applying to jobs has made the job search experience impersonal, resulting in the rise of ghosting.
Among job seekers, exactly how and when they ghost seemed to vary in the survey.
An estimated 48% say they ceased communications with the prospective employer, while another 46% didn’t show up for a scheduled interview. Indeed claimed 7% failed to appear for their first scheduled work day.
The reasons job seekers gave for their disappearances varied, from receiving another offer (20%) to dissatisfaction with the offered salary (13%).
Job seekers are more concerned about the negative consequences of ghosting than employers. 65% who ghosted an employer worried about having done it, compared to only 41% who felt this way last year.
54% of job seekers regret ghosting, up from 32% in 2019.
“It’s possible that younger job candidates prefer ghosting to having conversations, even if employers weren’t ghosting,” said Robin Rosenberg, clinical psychologist and CEO of Live in Their World, a company that addresses issues of bias and incivility in the workplace.
Employers are keeping score of who ghosts them
According to the survey by Indeed, 93% of employers keep records of ghosters, and only 7% say they don’t.
Among those who do, 26% say they track job seekers who stop responding; 35% note those who don’t turn up for an interview, and 33% record first-day no-shows.
The vast majority of employers (80%) believe candidates who ghost will experience negative impacts on their future job search or career.
With the increasing rise in ghosting, many employers are beginning to tighten up their interview and onboarding processes to protect themselves from the significant time lost on candidates.
What can employers do to ensure they aren’t contributing to the ghosting phenomenon?
Ghosting seems to have become standard practice in the hiring process, even though it creates a terrible candidate experience and can threaten a company’s brand.
Employers may want to address both candidate ghosting and their own applicant follow-up. To avoid issues, employers should focus on strong communication.
“Hiring managers should follow up with job seekers as much as possible, give them a timeline on when you expect to fill the role and the negative consequences for the enterprise if it is not filled in a timely fashion,” Jim Stroud, then-global head of sourcing and recruiting strategy for Randstad Sourceright told HR Dive.
Ghosting is the modern way of avoiding confrontation and uncomfortable conversations, but it leaves both employers and potential employees with questions and a lack of closure.
Job seekers ghost when they don’t feel their needs are being met and don’t know what else to do.
“Remember that focusing on attentiveness and improved communications throughout every stage of the process is key to ensuring the candidate feels informed. Simply being transparent, empathetic and authentic can go a long way in building more comfort and trust into your relationship with the candidate,” Indeed said in the survey.