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Revenge Of The Candidates - Ghosting Of Employers Is Now Increasing

Chalk this latest news release up to karma. I wrote a very well received blog back in March Hiring Managers – Please Stop Ghosting Your Candidates – Notes From An Outplacement Consultant that sent a message out to all hiring managers to treat job candidates with respect, provide timely feedback, and to avoid “ghosting” them. Well, it is now the candidates for some payback.

A recent study by Clutch, a B2B ratings/reviews company, reported that 40% of job candidates said it’s reasonable to “ghost” companies during the interview process, abruptly cutting off communication when they decide not to pursue a job.

The obvious irony here is that employer ghosting has been one of the top complaints of job candidates for a long time. While one wrong does not make a right, the prevalence of ghosting on both sides shows that the recruitment process is breaking down and help is needed. 

The Clutch survey paints a very bleak picture of what is happening today in candidate recruitment. Here is a summary of the key findings from the Clutch survey:

  • Nearly half of job seekers (41%) believe it’s reasonable to ghost a company.
  • Among job seekers who believe ghosting is reasonable, approximately half (48%) say it’s best to ghost during the early stages of the interview process.
  • While ghosting becomes less acceptable as the interview process progresses, nearly 1 in 10 job seekers (9%) still believe that it is acceptable for an applicant to ghost after accepting a job offer.
  • More than half of job seekers (55%) abandon 1-5 job applications during the job search. The most common reasons for their abandonment include accepting another job offer (30%), never hearing back from the company (23%), or deciding the role was not a match (19%).
  • More than one-third of job seekers (36%) say the last company that rejected them did not respond at all.

Ghosting by candidates has created some major disruption in recruiting across a number of industries. A LinkedIn article People are ‘ghosting’ at work, and it's driving companies crazy provides some additional context to this problem.

In fields ranging from food service to finance, recruiters and hiring managers say a tightening job market and a sustained labor shortage have contributed to a surge in professionals abruptly cutting off contact and turning silent — the type of behavior more often associated with online dating than office life. The practice is prolonging hiring, forcing companies to overhaul their processes and tormenting recruiters, who find themselves under constant pressure.
Where once it was companies ignoring job applicants or snubbing candidates after interviews, the world has flipped. Candidates agree to job interviews and fail to show up, never saying more. Some accept jobs, only to not appear for the first day of work, no reason given, of course. Instead of formally quitting, enduring a potentially awkward conversation with a manager, some employees leave and never return. Bosses realize they’ve quit only after a series of unsuccessful attempts to reach them. The hiring process begins anew.
Among younger generations, ghosting has “almost become a new vocabulary” in which “no response is a response,” says Amanda Bradford, CEO and founder of The League, a dating app. Now, “that same behavior is happening in the job market,” says Bradford, who’s experienced it with engineering candidates who ghosted her company.
Some of the behavior may stem not from malice, but inexperience. Professionals who entered the workforce a decade ago, during the height of the Great Recession, have never encountered a job market this strong.
The unemployment rate is at an 18-year low. More open jobs exist than unemployed workers, the first time that’s happened since the Labor Dept. began keeping such records in 2000. The rate of professionals quitting their jobs hit a record level in March; among those who left their companies, almost two thirds voluntarily quit. Presented with multiple opportunities, professionals face a task some have rarely practiced: saying no to jobs.

The increase in candidate ghosting has now so disruptive that:

  • Recruiters now have to overbook interviews in anticipation of no-shows (the famed airline model).
  • Recruiters can never safely assume that a candidate will show up for the first day of work – even though they have accepted the offer.
  • Recruiters now find themselves in a position of playing “Where’s Waldo” when a candidate fails to show up to work for Day One. They have to invest time in making follow-up calls (almost always not answered – remember we are talking ghosting here) to find out what exactly happened.

At the risk of a major understatement, both sides need to practice the golden rule.

Candidates – ghosting only burns bridges with recruiters and employers. It is short-sighted, lack professional maturity, and is hypocritical (don’t start complaining about never hearing back from a company again). Please treat others as you would want to be treated.

Employers – ghosting reflects poorly on your company brand, burns bridges with candidates who may represent a future hire/referral and also shows a lack of professionalism. You cannot blame your ATS or your workload. Fixing the ghosting problem on the employer end will help reduce the similar treatment that employers are now receiving from candidates. Give in order to receive.