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Ghosting: Is it Right and How Can You Avoid It?

Ghosting, at least in the new sense of the word, is not a good thing. Ghosting is when a person who used to be friendly or even romantic with someone suddenly cuts off all communication without explanation.


It’s a painful experience and leaves one baffled over what they could have done differently to avoid being “ghosted.” Basically, ghosting is a cowardly way of not coming clean with another person about the relationship moving forward.


Candidate Ghosting

In the business world, ghosting isn’t just a cowardly act, but a rude way to conduct business of any kind. According to a Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM) article, ghosting might not just be a generational thing, (think entitlement), but may be because it’s a buyer’s market with more opportunities available and less consequences from just walking away.


It may be true that there are plenty of jobs available and not enough people to fill them. In fact, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that as of the beginning of June, 2021, there are 6.6 million job openings, but only 6.1 million people unemployed. Meaning today’s worker can be choosy about what job they take and what compensation benefits they will accept.


Still…it’s rude! Ghosting simply means that someone is not returning a phone call or an email and not getting back with a person when they more than likely said that they would. In other words, they are not keeping their word.


A 2019 survey taken by the job posting site, Indeed, found that 76 percent of employers have been ghosted by candidates. It’s become so common that some job applicants don’t think twice about ghosting. It represents a lack of respect that seems to permeate into the business culture. However, the good news is that employers can begin to turn the tide on ghosting.


Here are five things an employer can do to prevent workplace ghosting:
  1. Set clear requirements– During the first contact with the job applicant, start off on the right foot by explaining what is expected in regards to communication. Make it known that you will keep your word and it is expected that the candidate will do the same.
  2. Create a no-call, no-show policy– Explain the policy to the candidate that if for any reason the candidate doesn’t respond or show up at the appropriate time, they will be considered ghosting and the hiring manager will move on to the next candidate.
  3. Develop an efficient hiring process- Set up rules before even beginning the hiring process that each step of the hiring life cycle will be on time and on schedule. Ensure that if policy states a candidate will be notified within 48 hours of the interview, they are contacted within that time frame.
  4. Communicate that your organization is different– Let the job candidate know from the start that your company does not tolerate ghosting or unprofessional behavior on your part or their part. Share with them that your business prides itself in respecting others at all times.
  5. Train all levels of staff– Train everyone from the receptionist to the hiring manager to stay in constant communication with the applicant throughout the entire hiring process. Explain the importance of keeping the candidate informed of where they are in the process.


Employer Ghosting

Unfortunately, ghosting is a two-way street. Employers ghost employee candidates on a regular basis. And it’s not just when a candidate doesn’t hear back from an employer after submitting a resume—that’s not ghosting. More so when an employer cuts off all contact with a candidate after there has already been some kind of substantial interaction.


A recent Indeed job posting article found that 77 percent of job seekers say they were ghosted by a prospective employer and that 10 percent said they had been ghosted by an employer after receiving a verbal job offer. The reasons employers ghost job candidates varies, but for the most part it is due to fear. Some hiring managers fear having to tell the candidate that they didn’t get the job. Instead of doing the right thing and calling, or emailing the candidate, they freeze in fear and take the ghosting approach instead.


Employer ghosting can and will backfire on the company. The power of social media is getting stronger with more outlets for job candidates to vent than ever before. The reputation of the employer is on the line when they choose to ghost a candidate. Facebook, Instagram & LinkedIn are just a few vehicles candidates can use to spread the message that a particular employer is a jerk.


To curb the desire to ghost or stop ghosting altogether, employers should consider the following:


  • Be professional– Job candidates prefer to work for employers who seem to have it all together. In other words, they dress the part. They are respectful of others, they behave according to their company’s mission, purpose and vision statements, and they keep their word.
  • Know that you’re not responsible for other’s reactions– If an employer has to give bad news to a job candidate, they should understand that they cannot control the reactions of the candidate. It’s better to give the news right away to a candidate so they can continue their search for employment.
  • Don’t let ghosting equate to power– Power and ego have no place in the workplace, and especially when hiring someone to fill a position. Be human and treat job candidates as you would want to be treated.


Give Up the Ghost

Ghosting is disruptive and costly. The cost to replace an employee or fill an open position can run somewhere between $4,000 and $10,000 depending on the position, according to Glassdoor. That means that every time an employer is ghosted, they just wasted a lot of time, effort, and money. When an employer ghosts a job candidate, the same amount of money is gone and the candidate is waiting in limbo for contact when they could have been finding the job.


Avoid the ghost and ensure you have taken the necessary steps to keep in constant contact with the other party. Be professional and show respect for others. Ghosting does get found out by others and reputations can be tainted. Strive to remain in human form and avoid the ghost.



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