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The Job Ghosting Is Getting Out of Hand

person covered in a sheet wearing sunglasses oooohh a spooky ghost, job ghosting

Remember when millennials were entering the workforce 15-20 years ago and the business rags were gassing up HR talking about how not loyal they all are? Millennials can breathe a sigh of relief at last because Gen Z is making their predecessors look like excellent employees by comparison.

Fortune has written up an Indeed survey of 1,500 employers and 1,500 workers in the UK that found two-thirds of workers surveyed have “ghosted” a prospective employer in the last year. Blowing off an interview isn’t the worst of it though:

A whopping 93% of Gen Zers told the global recruitment platform that they’ve flaked out of an interview.

Worse still, a staggering 87% managed to charm their way through interviews, secure the job, and sign the contract, only to leave their new boss stranded on the very first day.

Their reason for doing so? According to the survey, it makes them “feel in charge of their career”.

NGL you almost have to respect it.

Anecdotally, we’ve heard several stories of this happening at accounting firms recently. In fact, here’s a first day at the job ghosting story tweeted by someone in the #TaxTwitter gang. We wrote it up in the hopes the person would step forward and allow us to donate the fuck to give they are lacking.

A woman agreed to work for our firm. Did all the paperwork. Came in for first day of training. Took a break to “move her car.” Never came back. It’s become legend and a thing to tease the one guy she met with.

The woman later came crawling back to the firm asking for a second chance. Lame.

This isn’t the first time Indeed has tackled the emerging issue of ghosting by both employer and prospective employee or new hire. For December 2023’s “When Candidates and Recruiters Vanish: Indeed’s Ghosting in Hiring Report,” the job site surveyed 4,516 job seekers who admit to ghosting employers, as well as 4,517 employers who have been ghosted across the US, UK, and Canada. Here’s what they found:

Job seekers are also now more prepared to admit they’ve ghosted before: 78% say they ghosted an employer prior to 2022. In our 2022 survey, the percentage who admitted ghosting prior to 2021 was considerably lower, at 68%.

Employers share the sense that ghosting has increased: 77% say it became more common among job seekers during 2022 in comparison to previous years. In addition, more than half (57%) say it had never happened to them prior to the past 12 months. This is a notable increase from 54% who said the same in our 2022 survey and 45% in 2019.

All of this is leading large majorities of both US job seekers (75%) and employers (74%) to say that ghosting has become entrenched in the hiring landscape.

We would like to know how many of these employers who say they’ve been ghosted require one-way video interviews and/or excessively long aptitude or personality tests. Because NO.

“An assessment ‘that measures your personality and cognitive skills.’ Total estimated time to complete is 1 hour, I gave up after 15 minutes. This is after three hours of interviews for a data job at a dying company.” on r/recruitinghell

This isn’t the first time we’ve covered ghosting either. Way back in 2018 we were compelled to discuss job ghosting from both sides after Journal of Accountancy published a piece on the phenomenon:

[JofA] just did a story about job candidates ghosting during the recruiting process that is essential reading for anyone on the receiving end of a ghost.

It’s happening more frequently: A hiring manager begins the recruitment process with a job candidate, only to have that candidate disappear or “ghost” them at some point — not returning calls, texts, or emails.

Pat Cassady, talent acquisition director at BKD CPAs & Advisors in the Kansas City area, can tell her fair share of stories her staff witnessed: a college student who went through a full round of interviews, and then stopped responding when a job offer was extended; an experienced professional with connections to an employer who stopped responding upon receiving an offer letter; and many others.

What Is Job Search ‘Ghosting,’ and Why the Hell Is Everyone Doing It?,” GC October 9, 2018

So why is this happening at the scale it is? Luddites might argue that it’s due in part to the impersonal nature of the modern recruiting process (this also applies to online dating), that people aren’t just personally invested in the digital process. Maybe it is really a way for workers to feel they have control of a situation. It could be any number of things really but we know this for sure, it’s not going away any time soon.

6 thoughts on “The Job Ghosting Is Getting Out of Hand

  1. There’s always so much talk about candidates ghosting prospective employers, but what about employers who ghost candidates? I did an interview with a recruiter a few weeks ago. At the end, she said that I’d hear back from her in a few days on next steps. I never heard from her again. Not even a two sentence thank you for applying email. “Thank you for your interest in the position at our shitty company. We have decided not to proceed with you at this time.” How hard would it be to send that email? She could literally copy and paste it and send it to all the candidates she’s rejecting.

    Anyway, I don’t have any problem with candidates ghosting companies, because companies have been treating candidates like shit for years. What goes around, comes around. If recruiters are gonna get all butthurt about candidates ghosting them, then maybe they should start treating candidates more respectfully.

    1. I agree completely with the first post. I am not Gen Z, I am not a Millennial – as if this has anything to do with it! This article is so skewed. I happen to be on the late end of baby boomer, if you have to label me, which means I have a lot of experience interviewing over many decades. Corporations, companies, organizations have all held the upper hand in what should be a dual process. I was in my forties by the time I realized that I AM interviewing as much as they are. This is something that should be handed down to young people. Yes, you have as much say-so in your job search as the company interviewing you, if not more. I do not use the term ghosted – I think it is misleading and derogatory – but I have been treated like a number by so-called professionals for decades. It is empowering to know, when you attend an interview, or enter into the interviewing process, you have just as much power as they do in deciding YOUR future. That is YOUR interview, no theirs. Having stated this, I do believe common courtesy is also empowering, knowing that you followed up as best as you can, either to decline a position or cancel a meeting. That is just common courtesy.

  2. Good. The employees control the economy. The sooner employees realize that, the faster things get better for every worker.

  3. I have a really good idea. How about these employers make it worth while for people to want to show up. Why not “go above and beyond” to blow away a candidate

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