Estimated reading time: 2 minutes, 24 seconds

ghost 250A recent survey found that although 41% of job seekers approve of workplace ghosting, more than half (68%) disapprove of workplace ghosting when companies initiate it. The survey was conducted by Clutch, a B2B ratings and reviews firm based in Washington, DC.


Stories of workplace ghosting went viral this summer when LinkedIn reported on the trend. Formerly a phenomenon primarily associated with online dating, ghosting occurs in the workplace when formerly engaged job seekers abruptly stop responding to calls or emails, offering no explanation for why.

At some companies, employees even quit by ghosting. They simply stop showing up, with no explanation or further communication.

It’s not just workers who ghost, however. Nearly 2 in 5 job seekers (36%) surveyed say that the last company that rejected their job application did so by simply not responding, in some cases  despite expressing interest in next steps.

The prevalence of ghosting during the recruitment process indicates a breakdown in communication between companies and candidates.

In today’s job market, this actually presents a greater risk to companies. With unemployment low, nearly one-third of candidates (30%) ghost because they have already accepted another job offer. Nearly 1 in 5 candidates who ghost (19%) do so because they decided the role wasn’t a match.

Candidates may not realize that ghosting can have costly consequences for companies, which invest time and effort into recruiting new employees. Although ghosting is a sure way to burn bridges with an individual hiring manager, it’s only likely to have long-term, negative effects on a candidate’s professional reputation when the candidate uses a recruiting firm to find their next role.

Heather Tarrillion is senior vice president at Addison Group, a Chicago-based staffing and consulting firm.

“In those ghosting situations, everything is logged in our database,” Tarrillion said. “It’s very evident to see if someone was ghosting.”

When a candidate ghosts, recruiters can typically see a permanent record of it, including each time they unsuccessfully attempted to contact the candidate through calls or email.

Although it’s easy to blame candidates for workplace ghosting, high levels of ghosting should be taken as a sign that a company must evaluate its recruiting practices.

If candidates are ghosting to accept jobs from you competitors, consider re-evaluating the compensation, location, job titles, and opportunities your company is offering. Similarly, reducing the number of interviews or testing can ensure that more candidates make it to the end of your recruiting pipeline.

Finally, companies can’t control whether candidates ghost them – but hiring managers should never put their company’s reputation at risk by ghosting a candidate. Templated emails, internal process changes, or help from a recruiting firm can all streamline the recruiting process and prevent gaps in communication.

Workplace ghosting is disruptive and disconcerting for candidates and companies alike, but changes to the recruiting process can lessen its impact and help companies recruit the top talent they are looking for.
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