Indeed, the large job aggregation site, confirmed in a survey what every job seeker, human resources professional, recruiter and hiring manager has long suspected—ghosting has become a widespread commonplace practice.
It was once thought that only job seekers ghosted companies prior to Covid-19 when the job market was blazing hot, but according to a study conducted by Indeed, “it’s become clear that the disappearing act is no longer quite so one-sided: more employers are now ghosting job seekers, too.”
Ghosting, as per the Urban Dictionary, is “the act of suddenly ceasing all communication with someone the subject is dating, but no longer wishes to date. This is done in hopes that the ghostee will just ‘get the hint’ and leave the subject alone, as opposed to the subject simply telling them [they’re] no longer interested.”
This has crossed over to the business world. The real-world paragon includes candidates that lose interest in a job and pull out of the interview without politely providing advance notice and the reasons why they’re opting out.
After feeling an applicant isn’t the right fit, the hiring manager ceases communication with the candidate. They neglect to share any feedback, constructive criticism or the reasons behind their decision—leaving the job seeker confused and defeated.
The job seeker and company representatives ignore each other. No emails, texts or phone calls are initiated to explain to the other party what’s going on.
According to the survey, “Ghosting seems to have grown in popularity amongst job seekers over the past year: 28% have ghosted an employer, up from only 18% in 2019. Meanwhile, 76% of employers have been ghosted in the same time frame, and 57% believe it’s even more common than before.”
Nearly half—46%—of employers believe that employers are ghosting job seekers more than ever before. An astounding 77% of job seekers say they’ve been ghosted by a prospective employer since the onset of Covid-19, with 10% reporting that an employer has ghosted them even after a verbal job offer was extended.
Reflecting the stubbornly pernicious trend, only 27% of employers reported that they haven’t ghosted a job seeker in the last year. This is a clear “sign that ghosting has become standard practice in the hiring process—even though it creates a terrible candidate experience and can threaten a company’s employer brand.”
The interview and hiring process has always been difficult. It’s an awkward and uncomfortable dance for the person seeking out a new job and the folks at the company involved with hiring.
When I first started recruiting 20-plus years ago, hiring managers and internal corporate human resources personnel were sure to offer feedback and guidance to job seekers. They felt that by staying in close communication, they could get a better feel for the candidate and offer helpful tips for them to succeed.
Fast forward to the present, and it has all changed. A combination of deploying technology, an unfortunate rise in incivility in our country and the ease of applying to jobs has made the job search experience cold and impersonal—resulting in the sudden rise in ghosting.
Social media platforms, like LinkedIn, corporate career portals and the proliferation of job aggregators and niche job sites made it exceedingly easy for people to find job listings and email their résumés. Consequently, human resources, recruiters and hiring managers have become inundated with résumés.
The deluge has made it nearly impossible for companies to personally contact each and every applicant. This situation makes job seekers believe companies don’t care about them. Since job seekers think corporations are acting rudely, they justify their own ghosting actions.
For the last number of years, we’ve seen a rise in incivility. We are quick to argue with people who don’t share the same political beliefs. The algorithms of social media platforms, such as Facebook and Twitter, are rigged to push our buttons and get us riled up and angry. The media and politicians in Washington, D.C. gin up division among groups of people and fan the fires of hate.
Sadly, we are in a new paradigm that feels toxic. As it relates to the job market, it’s become almost socially acceptable to cut ties without letting the other party know why. Instead of providing feedback, discussing jobs and sharing information in a Zoom or phone call, people just disengage from the process—no calls, emails, goodbyes or thank yous. It becomes self-fulfilling. When you’re the ghostee, you’re apt to ghost someone else.
We don’t like to talk about this, but some corporate professionals involved with the hiring process are afraid to speak with job seekers or offer bad news, such as they won’t be advanced in the interview process. A manager is afraid that they may do something that can be construed as offensive or discriminatory, even when it’s not their intention. A disgruntled applicant could ruin that person’s career. It’s easier for them to just keep quiet and hope the person goes away.
If you are on the job hunt and this happens to you, don’t give up. Keep trying to get in touch with the parties you’ve dealt with. Approach them with polite persistence. Text, email or call them on the phone to inquire about your pending status. Don’t come across angry or petulant, but stand up for yourself. The upside is that you could receive helpful feedback or trigger the boss to take action and bring you back for another interview or extend an offer.
On the other side of the equation, recruiters, talent acquisition and managers should at least try to show a little empathy and compassion. About 80 million Americans have filed for unemployment benefits during the almost year-long pandemic. People are stressed and scared about their futures. A little kindness would go a long way. It will also help improve your company’s brand and reputation, as people will recognize that you actually care.