Ghosting: The Frightening Truth

ghost-ing (noun) 

the practice of ending a relationship with someone suddenly and without explanation, withdrawing from all communication.

One of the top complaints from job seekers is that employers mysteriously “disappear into the night” during the interview process. Candidates are left dangling for weeks or months, emails and phone calls unanswered. In 2020, 5% of job seekers cited poor communication as a reason for ghosting a potential employer. In 2023, that number jumped to 25%! Shame on you, employers!

They aren’t the only guilty party, however. In today’s complicated job market, job seekers are exacting their revenge – failing to return phone calls, ignoring emails, and simply not showing up to interviews or even the first day! Research shows that 70% of candidates say ghosting an employer is acceptable. Not a good look, candidates.

It’s easy to point fingers and argue that “employers started it.” Their eternally long and inefficient hiring procedures left candidates in the dark. Stringing them along with interview after interview and then nothing- not even a phone call thanking the candidate for their time or informing them they are no longer being considered for the position. There’s no denying many hiring strategies have room for improvement. However, we would argue that “he did it first” is not the best argument for ignoring a recruiter who is calling with an offer.

Regardless of who started it, employers are working hard to fix it. Revamping their hiring strategy to improve the candidate experience by implementing automated follow-up to keep candidates up to date on where they are in the pipeline, using video interviews to accommodate the candidates’ schedules, for example.

What else can an employer do in the “ghosting” age?

Be transparent.

Your hiring strategy is not a military secret. No one will accuse you of espionage for making it public. You will, however, build a reputation as an organization that values its applicant’s time and desire to work for you.  Simply informing job seekers of the “next steps” following their application submission eases their fear that they’ve sent their resume into the dark abyss.  Simultaneously, you are preventing excessive “just checking in” emails and phone calls from eager applicants. Briefly outlining the process on your Open Jobs page (For example application submission, review by an in-house recruiter or HR, phone interview if you match the job spec, and in-person interview) informs applicants where they are in the process.

Automate.

No one expects hiring managers to respond personally to every resume or phone call. And with today’s AI technology, they don’t have to. Generating automated responses to submitted resumes, follow-up emails, and even initial phone screenings is a simple way to ensure each applicant knows where they stand. We DO NOT recommend using an automated response for candidates who have moved farther into the hiring process. Once you’ve met a candidate face-to-face, they deserve a personal phone call (or at least an email) with some feedback… even if the feedback is that they are no longer being considered for the role.

Act like a human being.

Human beings communicate. They use (or should use) manners. They return phone calls and emails in a timely manner and are respectful and honest. Acknowledge the other person by closing communication loops. Most importantly, show up! Not just physically but mentally, as well. Engage with the candidate, ask questions, nod, and make eye contact. Respect their time, and remember, if you seem like you don’t care, they are happy to share! Social media is filled with rants about employers who treat a candidate disrespectfully. That will not enhance your brand or attract the talent you’re looking for.

Job seekers here’s a bit of advice for you…

Act like a human being.

“The man” on the other side of the desk, he’s a human being. Not only are they taking away time from their own schedule, but they may also be missing out on an opportunity to hire someone who actually wants and needs this job.

Only apply for jobs you want

If you don’t really want the job, don’t apply. Hiring managers invest a lot of time screening candidates, scheduling interviews, and implementing hiring processes. If there’s only a 50-50 chance you’ll show up because you don’t really want to work there, don’t apply!

Be a grown-up

If you take another job or decide you aren’t interested in the role after all, make the awkward phone call or send the uncomfortable email. Be a grown-up. Don’t be a “no show” on the first day. Trust us, the professional world is smaller than you think. You are not doing your reputation any favors by “ghosting” anyone.

At the end of the day, treat one another the same way you’d treat an acquaintance. You wouldn’t leave them hanging when you made plans to hang out. Don’t do it to each other, either. Whether you’re an employer or looking to be employed, ghosting is disrespectful and will come back to bite you in the rear down the line.

Hiring/Executive Recruiting