'Ghosting' Is Unprofessional Regardless of Whether You're Taking or Submitting a Job Application

When jobs were scarce, employers routinely ignored applicants. Now that applicants are scarce, they're returning the favor.

learn more about Jim Stroud

By Jim Stroud

Pekic | Getty Images

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Recruiters may wish they had acknowledged receiving an application, or had called to thank rejected candidates, now that fierce competition in the labor market has put job seekers in the driver's seat. Across industries and at every level, employers report they are being "ghosted' by potential hires, who skip out on interviews, never show for their first day of work or just stop communicating during the hiring process.

No matter who does it, ghosting is highly unprofessional and ultimately costs both employers and job seekers alike. Fortunately, technology is helping to improve how candidates and potential employers communicate and to exorcise 'ghosting' for good.

Three out of every four American workers say they would rather be ghosted by a potential partner after a first date than not hear back from a potential employer after applying, according to a recent survey. For years, job candidates have complained about not knowing the status of applications they spent hours preparing only to submit and never hear from the prospective employer again.

And candidates have every right to feel spurned. Order a pizza today and you can track its progress from dough to delivery with technology first deployed over a decade ago. Yet, even today, job candidates can rarely confirm that their information was considered by the right person and almost never know why their applications were rejected. Should the pool of talent that could determine the future growth and direction of a company warrant less consideration than the status of a takeout dinner?

Employers that ghost candidates put their corporate brand at risk. The candidate snubbed today could control the potential business lost tomorrow. And, with websites like Glassdoor, kununu and Indeed, a few candidates recounting a bad recruitment experience can damage an employer's reputation and deter future applicants.

During the Great Recession, recruiters received as many as 400 applications within 24 hours of a posting. The demand for jobs gave recruiters all the power. Now, it's candidates that are in control. For the first time in U.S. history, there are more job openings than unemployed people to fill them and the fierce demand for talent means candidates have more leverage than they have had in decades.

The power may be going to their heads. Though hard data is scarce, some employers report they are ghosted by anywhere from 20 to 50 percent of applicants and initial hires, who either do not show for a scheduled interview or skip out on their first day of work. By some estimates, even 20 percent of white collar workers are guilty of ghosting.

Candidates might believe that recruiters deal with such large candidate pools they will forget who spurned them, or that the fierce competition for talent means they will easily attract other offers. But, candidates who ghost are burning multiple bridges. Because the job market is so competitive, recruiters will not forget who wasted their time or their company's money.

Businesses in the same industry often use the same recruiters who search for talent across multiple industries. Even if the disappearance had little impact on filling a position, dozens of people could learn of the ghosting and, while potential employers look for achievement, they rarely overlook such unprofessionalism.

Fortunately, new HR technology empowers recruiters to interact meaningfully with every potential job seeker and leaves little reason to ghost potential employers. Chatbots can contact candidates within minutes of applying and have a near-human initial screening conversation via text message. By gathering information relevant to future searches from candidates not suitable for the current position, chatbots help candidates feel sufficiently acknowledged, while still serving an important HR function.

On the other hand, technology can provide a dispassionate instrument for candidates who feel awkward informing a recruiter that they have reconsidered a particular role. Automated messaging programs can contact no-shows electronically and provide an indirect, unemotional medium to communicate, reducing the time recruiters spend trying to track down candidates and providing a chance to salvage the relationship in a way that benefits both parties.

Few people like having to deliver bad news. But ghosting a potential employer or an unsuccessful job candidate just to avoid an uncomfortable conversation is never a good idea, and now completely unnecessary. New HR technologies are making communication between employers and job seekers easier for both parties, so neither needs to pull a disappearing act and both can feel confident they have not been ignored.

Jim Stroud

Global head of Sourcing and Recruiting Strategy for Randstad Sourceright

Jim Stroud is global head of Sourcing and Recruiting Strategy for Randstad Sourceright, a global talent solutions leader.

Related Topics

Editor's Pick

This 61-Year-Old Grandma Who Made $35,000 in the Medical Field Now Earns 7 Figures in Retirement
A 'Quiet Promotion' Will Cost You a Lot — Use This Expert's 4-Step Strategy to Avoid It
3 Red Flags on Your LinkedIn Profile That Scare Clients Away
'Everyone Is Freaking Out.' What's Going On With Silicon Valley Bank? Federal Government Takes Control.

How to Detect a Liar in Seconds Using Nonverbal Communication

There are many ways to understand if someone is not honest with you. The following signs do not even require words and are all nonverbal queues.


The Odds Are Still Stacked Against Women in Business. Here's How Young Women Can Defy Them.

As a woman running a seven-figure fintech consultancy, my success hasn't come without its fair share of challenges. Here are some key strategies to jump over the obstacles women face in the corporate world.

Business News

'Things Will Go Wrong.' Google Releases Its Chatbot Bard With Caution.

The AI-powered search tool went live today to a limited number of users in the U.S. and the U.K.