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Why Is Ghosting Becoming So Common in the Hiring Process?

This is the second article in a series on “ghosting” in the hiring process. Read part one here.

The phenomenon of “ghosting” has become so common in the workplace that it has even caught the attention of the Fed. Appearing in the December 2018 Beige Book, a periodic roundup of economic conditions around the country, the Chicago report noted “a number of contacts said that they had been ‘ghosted,’ a situation in which a worker stops coming to work without notice and then is impossible to contact.” 

While “ghosting” is becoming more and more common in the workplace as a whole, it is even more common in the hiring landscape. A candidate is entrenched in the process; they go through multiple interviews, receive an offer and…disappear. 

So who exactly is ghosting and when is it happening?

According to the 2019 Marketing Hiring Trends Report, members of every generation in the workforce ghost during the hiring process. 

Ghosting is most common in Generation Z job seekers, those born in 1995 or later. 86 percent of Generation Z job seekers have ghosted a potential employer or employer. This generation has grown up with smartphones in hand. Texting became a mainstream form of communication when these professionals were still in elementary school. So it’s no wonder that it feels acceptable to them to “go dark” on a potential employer and simply hope they get the message. 

And what about Millennials and Gen X? While not nearly as common as it is in Gen Z, more than half (58 percent) of Millennial and Gen X job seekers report that they too have ghosted. And some might find this surprising, Boomers are guilty as well. Almost half (48 percent) of job seeking Boomers report that they have ghosted a potential employer or employer. 

According to a report by Fuseworkforce, the unhelpful habit likely stems from years of being on the receiving end of a ghost. “Job seekers have been trained to see this behavior as common— which may explain why they’re likely to walk away from ongoing conversations with hiring managers now. HR professionals unintentionally set a cultural expectation that ghosting was a normal part of the hiring process, and undoing the damage will involve intentionally creating new norms.” 

When Do Workers “Ghost”? 

50% of ghosting happens during the interview process. Candidates reported that during the application and interview process they did more research and changed their minds, and subsequently decided to look elsewhere even before an offer was made. Some changed their minds during an interview when they discovered that the culture and fit was not right for them.

21% of ghosting occurs after an offer was made. These ghosting candidates accepted another job, often from an offer they were waiting on or hoping for. In some instances, the offer or work were not what they expected based on the interview.

16% ghosted after they started the job. Those who ghosted after they started the job discovered that the fit and culture were not what they expected, that the job description was not “as advertised,” or they had not done enough homework to find out more about the role and the company they had joined.

Ghosting is a common practice that is unfortunately becoming more and more socially acceptable. But it’s important to remember that with all trends that have a correlation to the health of the economy, it won’t last forever. At some point there will be more candidates than open jobs. So if you’ve been guilty of ghosting, whether as a candidate or a hiring manager, do your future self a favor and do your part to stem the tide now. Clear communication from hiring managers and recruits is a best practice that serves us all. 

by McKinley Marketing Partners