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October 2019 | Blog | By: Nino Gonzalez


What is Ghosting in the Workplace?


A term popularized in the last few years in the dating scene has made its way into other parts of our lives. It initially referred to the act of ending a romantic relationship with someone by completely cutting off all communication without giving any sort of explanation. In other words, becoming a ghost.

loud ghostNow, the phenomenon has become commonplace in the workforce, too. Whether it’s candidates not showing up for scheduled interviews, new hires skipping out on their first day, or current employees walking off the job without warning never to return again.

That’s not to say job seekers are the only ones who do the “ghosting.” For years employers have accepted resumes for listings without ever intending to let applicants know they weren’t selected for the position. Or even worse, they were never hiring in the first place, they just wanted to beef up their talent pipeline.ghost costume

These sorts of actions have been deemed acceptable for employers over the years, probably due to the sheer volume of applicants they get. It would be nearly impossible to return all of those emails. And with the advent of more advanced applicant screening software, many submitted resumes go unread altogether.

Regardless of who’s doing the ghosting, it’s a trend in the workforce that we need to be prepared to deal with.

A Growing Trend

growth trendThis phenomenon may not be entirely new, but applicant ghosting incidents used to be few and far between. They were a major red flag and part of the weeding out process for recruiters – if you don’t care enough to get in contact, then you won’t care about the job. It was as simple as that, but as Bob Dylan famously said, “The times, they are a-changin'.”

Today, based on a survey from Clutch, more than 40% of job seekers say it’s reasonable to “ghost” companies during the interview process, much to the dismay of recruiters and hiring managers alike. The reasons given in the survey include accepting other offers and deciding the position isn’t a good fit for them. In other words, the same reasons candidates have always turned down job offers, except now they just don’t tell their potential employer.

To further demonstrate the point, Clutch also found that 70% of job seekers have abandoned a job application, with 55% having abandoned up to 5 applications during a job search. Without any follow-up, this can cause real frustration in employers because they can’t be certain whether or not it's their processes or they’re just chasing ghosts.

This is a trend that is clearly growing more prevalent throughout the workforce, but the big question still remains. Why?

Why is it Happening?

Unfortunately, there is no single, simple answer but rather a mix of circumstances that have resulted in driving this trend into the professional sector.

There are two changes in the workforce that began happening over the past few years and are still taking shape today. The obvious change is the labor market. With the unemployment rate still sitting below 4% there has been a power shift, giving job seekers leverage over employers.

floating ghostHiring managers and recruiters are used to receiving hundreds of applications for positions they need to fill, giving them the luxury of sifting through resumes and applications to find the perfect candidate. With such a tight talent market, that perfect candidate may not be looking for new opportunities at all, and even if they have applied, you’re competing with everyone else to recruit them. The job seeker, realizing they hold the cards, now doesn’t see a need to keep any doors open and opts to cut off all communication rather than thanking potential employers for their interest and letting them know they should look elsewhere.

flying ghostThe other, more subtle, change is the generational shift that is currently taking place. As younger people take over the workforce, we will begin to see their sensibilities taking precedence over those of previous generations. As new workers become more comfortable with operating online, the personal aspects of things like job searching fall by the wayside. Couple that with the impersonality of online applications and there is no real connection made between the job seeker and the recruiter, making it all the easier to “ghost” a prospective employer.

In a Nutshell

Our increased use of the internet to simplify processes and operations has made us more connected to each other than ever. Somehow, it has also made it all the more difficult to communicate and, surprisingly, much easier to disappear without telling a soul.

simple ghostWhether it’s an employee that ghosts an employer or a recruiter that ghosts a candidate, there is a clear breakdown in communication along the way that results in job seekers potentially missing out on a great opportunity or a company’s bottom line being affected after investing in a candidate that never had any intention of sticking around in the first place (or even letting you know when they quit!).

Stay tuned into our blog for an additional piece on the best ways to navigate ghosting in the workplace!

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About the Author

Nino Gonzalez, Branch Manager
Nino Gonzalez, Miami Branch Manager
Nino began his time with DecisionPathHR in November of 2014 and currently serves as Branch Manager for DecisionPathHR's Miami office. Understanding the importance of managing relationships, he focuses on engaging with both clients and associates to provide next-level customer service. He says the true value of a company lies within its employees, so he finds his motivation in matching the right candidate with the right company. Nino does not like ghosts.