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Employee Ghosting: Why It’s Happening and How to Prevent It – Pt 1

May 18, 2022 | Business

As a hiring manager or recruiter, reaching out to new job candidates is an important time. Building a list of good candidates, cultivating that initial connection, and scheduling interviews are vital to eventually finding the right person for the job. But what do you do when a candidate stops answering your messages entirely, or simply fails to show up to a meeting or interview (also known as employee ghosting)?

This is known as employee ghosting, an issue that has been a problem in the hiring market for over a decade of digital communication – but only recently spotlighted from this direction.

The Ghosting Stats

According to a recent Indeed survey and Forbes:

  • 28% of job seekers have ghosted an employer
  • 1/4 of employers report new hires ‘no-showing’ the first day of work
  • 10% of candidates ghosted after a verbal job offer
  • Professionals are more offended by recruiter ghosting than candidate ghosting

On the Flip-Side

  • 77% of job seekers have been ghosted by an employer
  • Only 27% of employers say they haven’t ghosted a job seeker in the past year
  • 51% of job seekers feel employers are ghosting more than before COVID 19

What Is Employee Ghosting?

“Ghosting” is a common phenomenon in any type of digital relationship. It means stopping contact and “disappearing” without another word or sign of their existence. When ghosted, a contact becomes a ghost in your digital world.

The term “Employee Ghosting” can be used in three different ways. This year, the primary meaning is when a job candidate “ghosts” their recruiter or hiring manager, disappearing in the middle of the hiring process. However, the term “employee ghosting” can also be used if an employee walks off the job without a word, and has been used when a recruiter ghosts the employee, instead.

Turning the Tables: The History of Recruitment Ghosting

Why is ghosting increasing to the point of employer concern this year? To know the answer, we must look to the recent past. The one stat that every recruiter and hiring manager should be aware of is that 1/3 of all most recent job rejections have been the company ghosting the employee. This is standard practice, one that hurts candidates who are eager, perhaps desperate, for the job. And when something is made a standard practice, both sides of the negotiation should be permitted to adopt it.

Candidates today are busy and in high demand. The tables have turned and suddenly they are less desperate than employers to match professionals with roles. They are the ones with too many phone calls to answer. They are the ones who don’t have time to bother with a job that’s not a good fit. And with decades of history where companies have so many more candidates to choose from, it doesn’t feel harmful to ghost a hiring company. Much less a recruiter.

Why Do Candidates Ghost Employers?

Now let’s look at the individual reasons why candidates ghost their recruiting employers. These fall into two general categories: the applicant is responding to signs of pre-rejection and the applicant found something better and simply never gets back to previous applications. A third category, mix-ups, form a smaller percentage of ghosting incidents.

1. Candidate Feels Ghosted or Mistreated

  • The job took too long to answer their application
  • The recruitment process drags on too long
  • They were treated rudely or their schedule was not respected by the recruiter
  • They got a bad feeling from the hiring manager

This is the most problematic category for employers. Usually, if a candidate “ghosts” the company for one of these reasons, the company made a mistake. Taking too long to reach out or complete the hiring process is damaging to candidates. Every week you wait is a week you are expecting them to remain unemployed and available without a current paycheck – or in a bad job, they are trying to leave.

There are also a few bad apples and old relics left in the hiring industry that treat candidates like chattel and will drive away from the most self-respecting professionals.

2. Candidate Found a Better Opportunity

  • A better job presented itself
  • They got hired by another company during the recruiting process
  • Deciding, after some thought, that the role is not a match

The second category is the most difficult to resolve. With decades of recruiters ghosting having shaped the industry, it will be tough to convince the greater workforce that ghosting is not acceptable. Most professionals today believe – due to perceived harm – that it’s OK to ghost a recruiter, but unacceptable for recruiters to ghost candidates. So when they find something better, they are unlikely to send a goodbye email to the other jobs they applied for. After all, only about 1/3 of hiring managers or recruiters offer that courtesy in the other direction.

Learn More About Employee Ghosting in Part 2

[Continued in Part 2]

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