It used to just be a move reserved for avoiding awkward farewells at parties, or a thoughtless conclusion to communications on the dating scene. But ghosting – or the sudden ending of communication with no explanation – is now happening in the working world as well.

It used to be recruiters who were doing the ghosting, failing to call candidates back or provide updates on their application. Now organisations are finding that candidates are starting to disappear from the recruitment process too. And you could be losing some of your best candidates before you even realise it. 

The growth of ghosting 

When it comes to recruiters, our research shows – unsurprisingly – that ghosting is the top way for recruiters to lose credibility with candidates. According to our survey, 90% of candidates and 80% of recruiters believe it’s very important that the candidate likes their recruiter, which suggests that personal interactions continue to make or break the candidate experience.

While ghosting by candidates may be relatively new, a survey by job listing site Indeed suggests it’s very much on the rise and employers are feeling the impact. 83% of employer respondents said they had been ghosted, which they defined as including anything from skipping an interview to not showing up on day one.

Interestingly, only 18% of the job seeker respondents admitted to ghosting. Of this group, 50% said they’d skipped an interview and 46% said they just stopped responding to the recruiter. At the other end of the recruitment process, 22% said they’d accepted a job offer but then didn’t show up on the first day, while 18% said they’d accepted a verbal offer but then hadn’t signed the paperwork.

Why is it happening?

There’s no clear cut reason as to why candidate ghosting is on the rise. It may be that a confluence of circumstances have created an environment where candidates feel ghosting is an easy out. Certainly it’s a candidate’s market out there, with the impacts of the talent crunch already starting to change market dynamics. Candidates simply have more options and may therefore quickly become disengaged if the candidate experience doesn’t meet their needs.

There’s no clear cut reason as to why candidate ghosting is on the rise. But with the impact of the talent crunch candidates have more options and may therefore become disengaged if the candidate experience doesn’t meet their needs. Click To Tweet

Technology has something to answer for here as well. While tech has enabled us to make tremendous strides in talent acquisition, including through using AI to source the best candidates for a role, it also comes with some risks. An increase in anonymised and impersonal communications may mean that candidates are less invested in the process or the company.  Candidates may feel that the effort they are putting into their applications is not being matched by the organisation.

How to stop ghosting

Just as there’s no single reason why candidates are ghosting, there’s no single solution. But we believe recruiters need to focus on three key areas to limit the impact of ghosting on their organisations.

  • Attract the right candidates: Spend time creating a profile of the ideal candidate for the role so that you’re attracting the right people from the start. This leaves less room for mismatches in expectations that can increase the likelihood of ghosting. Understand the motives and drivers needed for success in the role and within the organisation’s culture.
  • Treat candidates like customers: Interactions with a recruiter and/or hiring manager can make or break a candidate experience, so make sure your candidates are given a positive experience. Establish credibility by giving candidates the right information and keep personal channels of communication open, augmented but not replaced by technology.
  • Talk about career aspirations and development: Helping candidates see themselves as part of the organisation from the early stages of the recruitment process will help keep them engaged and invested in the process. Learning about their career aspirations and talking about development shows their personal goals are being respected through the process.

No one wants to be sitting alone at the pub, waiting in vain for a potential date to appear. And no one wants to be ghosted at work either. It may be a candidate’s market, but talent acquisition professionals have the tools to ensure they’re not the one left sitting alone.

Speak to our experts

About the contributor

Tania Bergers, Market Leader for Search in Thailand, based out of the firm’s Bangkok office. Her expertise has been on delivering search and leadership assessment to a broad range of sectors including Consumer, Industrial and Life Sciences. She is a certified coach for Korn Ferry’s suite of assessment tools. In addition to serving clients in Thailand, she works on high impact leadership searches in the Indochina region, including Vietnam, Myanmar and Cambodia.

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