Is ‘Job Ghosting’ On the Rise?

Jan 15, 2019 Margaret McAfee Margaret McAfee

Candidate and employee “ghosting” is a big thing right now. Based on the modern lingo of disappearing on someone you are seeing or met online, the unprofessional practice of ghosting current or prospective employers is a growing trend in which applicants, job candidates, and existing employees drop them like a bad date.

This behavior costs companies significant time and money by:

  • Extending the hiring process;
  • Lowering morale and productivity; and
  • Increasing the costs of advertising, recruiting, and interviewing for positions.

Job ghosting is an increasingly common issue that recruiters at professional staffing agencies and individual businesses are facing. And, although many employers believe that it’s just millennials ghosting jobs, the truth is that this practice spans all age groups.

This post will cover what employee ghosting is, why it's trending, and how employers can prevent this growing practice from occurring at their businesses.

What Job Ghosting Is and Why It Is Increasing

When trying to understand what can be done to prevent employee ghosting, it’s vital to first establish a job ghosting meaning. According to an article in USA Today, job ghosting occurs when employees are “blowing off scheduled job interviews, accepting offers but not showing up the first day and even vanishing from existing positions – all without giving notice.”

While this isn’t a new practice, employers are seeing employees ghosting more frequently. The USA Today article also states that “while no one formally tracks such antics, many businesses report that 20 to 50 percent of job applicants and workers are pulling no-shows in some form” and that their actions are causing businesses to alter their hiring practices.

Why Employees Ghosting at Work is Becoming Commonplace

There are many speculations as to why job ghosting is on the rise. Some say they believe the economy is a factor while others think that it’s a way for employees and prospects to get back at employers who, historically, have been unresponsive and have ghosted applicants.

Employees Are In Control in an Improved Economy

According to the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), unemployment is sitting at 3.9%. In November and December 2018, it was 3.7%, one of the lowest rates since 1969. As a result of these low rates, fewer people are competing for more jobs. This means that there has been a power shift in which applicants and candidates now can exercise more leverage in the labor market — in this case, by job ghosting prospective and existing employers. They can be more selective about the employers they wish to pursue or consider.

Prospective Employees May Desire Retribution for Past Slights

The Great Recession of 2007-2009 was a time when candidates were desperate for work. A single job listing could receive upwards of several hundred applicants within one day of posting. Unfortunately, many employers chose to leave prospective candidates hanging by ignoring or not communicating with these potential employees.

Now, in an economy with an incredibly low unemployment rate, the tables have turned. Job candidates and applicants can now choose whether to treat employers with respect or treat them the way they have been treated in recent years by other prospective employers — by failing to communicate or altogether disappearing on them.

Employees Want to Avoid Conflict with Employers

One reason why the practice of job ghosting is becoming more commonplace with existing employees is that people are averse to confrontation and conflict. They figure it’s easier to disappear than to face their employer and tell them they are leaving. This means that employee ghosting, for some individuals, is the result of wanting to avoid uncomfortable situations.

Employers Aren’t Paying Enough to Keep Employees Satisfied

Another reason why some employees ghost their employers is that companies are not paying enough to keep them, leading employees to jump ship when another opportunity comes along. The Guardian says that smaller employers aren’t paying enough and larger employers with “more generous benefits are snapping” people up. Citing a recent survey from ADP, the publication reports that “companies with fewer than 50 employees have increased their wages about 3.3% so far this year... The increase in wages is barely keeping up with inflation.”

How to Identify Job Ghosting During the Recruiting Process

At 4 Corner Resources (4CR), our team has seen an increase in job ghosting as well. Our experience with employees ghosting falls within two primary areas: the interview process and not showing up for work.

Candidate Interview Process

With every interaction, 4CR’s recruiting team strives to identify whether a candidate is "shady" or a potential ghoster by evaluating them throughout our proprietary screening process. Some points of assessment include (but are not limited to) the following questions:

  • Are they responsive to texts, emails, and calls?
  • Are they changing their answers (e.g., they were fine with the pay a day ago and now want more)?
  • Will they allow us to accept the position on their behalf?

After the Offer

In the not-too-distant past, when a job candidate received an offer, it was time for the candidate, recruiter, and hiring manager to celebrate. Today, that isn’t necessarily the case, so we remain on high alert until the moment the candidate walks in the door. In other words, it’s not done until it’s done.

We understand that, despite the most thorough screening, reference checking, and interview processes, the potential for ghosting exists, so we remain in constant contact with the selected candidate; looking for any indication that he or she may back out. While we may have sent only a single candidate to interview, it is our practice to have others in the pipeline who are ready to serve as a backup if the need arises.

The good news is that you can reduce the risk of job ghosting by partnering with a professional recruiting and staffing agency. As an experienced and reputable Orlando staffing agency that recruits and places candidates with companies throughout the U.S., we can "spot" potential ghosters early in the recruiting and staffing process.

To learn more about us, our processes, and what makes us different from other professional staffing agencies, contact our team of placement experts today.

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