I just read an eye-opening indeed.com blog entitled “The Ghosting Guide: An Inside Look at Why Job Seekers Disappear” about jobseekers “ghosting” employers. That’s when the candidate disappears from the hiring process, never to be heard from again.

The article claims that it’s a very new trend that seems to be on the rise. I would agree that it might be on the rise, but it’s nothing new. In my career as a recruiter, candidates would ghost me and the employer for one reason or another.

They would suddenly stop replying to my emails or phone messages.

They would schedule a phone or in-person interview and not show up.

They would accept an offer verbally only to disappear and not sign the document.

They would accept the offer but not show up to the first day on the job

While it happened and was expected, it was typically a small percentage of times. Seems that times have changed. According to the article, ghosting is now one of the biggest problems in the hiring world. Technology has made it easier to apply to jobs and then or some reason, not follow through

It begs the question: why is ghosting becoming more prevalent? 

According to the indeed survey, about 83% of employers have been ghosted at least once during the hiring process. 69% say that ghosting started in the last 2 years, but in my opinion, that’s not accurate. As I already pointed out, I was experiencing ghosting as far back as 15 years ago.

Is ghosting becoming epidemic? And if so, why exactly? Who are the guilty parties and why are they doing this?

Here’s were the numbers get interesting….

While a whopping 83% of employers say they’ve been ghosted, only 18% of job candidates say they’ve actually ghosted anyone. Either jobseekers are not being forthcoming about their ghosting habits, or it’s the same people doing this over and over.

Here are the stats about the job candidates:

50% of “ghosters” fail to show up for the job interview. This is no surprise and where I experienced the most among of no-shows.

46% fail to follow up with the recruiter, HR, or hiring manager. Again, not a big surprise. This is to be expected.

22% failed to show up to the first day of work after accepting a job offer. This actually surprised me – I thought it would have been less than that.

19% accepted a verbal offer but never signed the paperwork.

On the flip side, here are the stats about the employers:

Employers are ghosted at every stage of the hiring process which puts them in a precarious position.

84% have had candidates not show up for interviews.

64% say they stopped communicating with no explanation.

60% report candidates accepting a verbal offer only to disappear.

65% of employers report no-shows on their first day of work.

Why do candidates take time to apply to jobs only to ditch?

It’s hard enough to get an interview at the best of times, but to go MIA at any stage seems very counter productive to me.

Does the problem lie with 3rd party recruiters who are not in control of the process? Or is the job candidate just being inconsiderate? According to the indeed study, the reasons have little to do with the recruiters.

Here’s what the study revealed about the “why” behind the ghosting:

50% decided the job wasn’t right for them.

40% ghosted after receiving another offer.

22%  say the salary wasn’t up to par.

15% were not happy with the benefits.

Maybe it is a recruiter problem?

 The study did reveal that jobseekers who ghost did say that “recruiters could make a difference — primarily around effective and open communication.”

26% of ghosters say they simply weren’t comfortable telling the employer they had a change of heart.  Even if that’s the case, how hard is it to shoot a quick email saying they’ve decided to “move in another direction”?

13% mention general communication problems with the recruiter. This is why you should never work with a recruiter who you don’t feel comfortable with and who isn’t at least somewhat transparent and keeps you in the loop.

11% just didn’t know what to do, so they disappeared. This is such a lame excuse.

The article goes on to include that candidates will ghost if they don’t feel that they are being treated with respect and consideration during the hiring process.

Many of them feel that the recruiters and employers are not being forthcoming or trustworthy.  In some instances, candidates feel that they were being lied to or misled by recruiters and that employers were rude and had a poor attitude.

Are candidates worried that ghosting employers might hurt them?

Do they feel bad? Are they worried that it might hurt them in some way?

Some are embarrassed by their ghosting, calling it “rude,” “unprofessional” or “irresponsible.”

Others don’t feel comfortable applying to the same employer again.

41% worry it might negatively impact future opportunities.

Many more candidates are not worried about their ghosting habits

Apparently, a whopping 94% of jobseekers who ghost are NOT afraid of the consequences and claim that they have never suffered any repercussions because of it.

I guess the question is whether candidates can continue to ghost with no consequences. I would think that at some point it’s going to come back to bite them in the ass.

Apparently about 70% of the ghosted employers are becoming ticked off with all the ghosting, so they’re now putting measure into place to flag candidates who have not shown up to work or bailed on interviews:

71% keep records of no-show new hires.

65% track job seekers who bail on interviews.

Who are these ghosters?

Are they a certain age? Job experience level? Geographic location? While many people might automatically think that it’s the younger people (i-gen, milennials) who are doing this, apparently it’s an activity that cuts across a diverse population.

The median age of ghosters surveyed is 34 years.

70% are employed full-time.

23% of both 18- to 24-year-old and 35- to 44-year-old ghosters failed to show up for their first day or work.

20% of ghosters age 45 to 65 failed to show up for their first day or work.

The 4 top reasons why people ghost:

#1:  The hiring process is too slow. Yes, it’s slow but that’s the way it is so deal with it. Also, I recall it being slow for over a decade, so I’m not sure that it’s really any slower.

#2:  There’s not enough transparency. I realize this can be annoying, but the fact is, the recruiter and employer are not going to share everything with you. That’s the way the game is played. If you feel that you have the right to certain information and don’t get it, you can walk away but at least send an email.

#3:  The candidates didn’t know what to do. If you know you are going to jump ship, then at least send an email that you are removing yourself out of the process. You don’t even have to give an explanation.

#4:  The candidates didn’t want to hurt the recruiters/employer’s feelings. They’re probably going to be upset no matter what, so it’s better to just let them know you are not interested in moving forward.

In each case, it was the 18 – 34 years olds who were more likely to bail than the 45 to 65 year olds. This suggests that the younger people have less patience, have higher (possibly unrealistic) expectations than their counterparts who might be more realistic as to how long thing take and realize that not everyone’s going to be nice to you

So, to recap:

Ghosting is apparently on the rise. Most job seekers are NOT ghosting. Well, that’s a relief!

While ghosters don’t experience negative fallout from their actions, this could change.

Ghosting is NOT limited to younger job seekers although age does play a role in ghosters’ motivating factors.

To ghost or not to ghost….

While I totally understand why jobseekers would want to ghost an employer, especially if they feel they are being misled or the process is taking way to long, I would urge them to NOT do that.

Why you should never ghost:

The number one reason I would advise that you don’t ghost recruiters and employers is that you are essentially dishonouring yourself. Just because the recruiter is being rude or inconsiderate or the employer is taking forever to make a hiring decision doesn’t mean you have to be discourteous.

If you have had a change of heart, no matter at what point in the process, the better thing to do is to be forthcoming and let everyone know. You don’t have to give them a specific reason why if you don’t want to. 

Even if your decision to take yourself out of the process “hurts someone’s feelings” or pisses off the employer, it’s up to them to own that. It’s not your job to placate everyone.

The other reason you shouldn’t disappear is that at some point along the way, it will probably come back to haunt you. Word could get around that you are a “bad” candidate and that could hurt your future job search efforts.

Need some help???

I highly recommend you retain the services of a career professional to help you position and sell yourself for a job search. One wrong move can get you disqualified from the running. Feel free to contact me here.  

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Hi!  I’m Diana.

I leverage over 14 years recruitment and sales/marketing experience to create attention-grabbing résumés, cover letters, and Linkedin profiles that help job seekers stand out, get noticed, and get hired. You can learn more about my story here and about how I can help you here.

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