Candidate ghosting: The silent trend disrupting today's job market 

Picture this: You’ve crafted the perfect job listing, sifted through applicants, and finally found the ideal candidate. But when the interview day arrives, there’s silence. No candidate, no explanation. This isn’t just a recruiter’s bad dream; it’s the reality of ‘Candidate Ghosting’ in today’s job market.

Nonso Onowu on December 05, 2023 Average reading time: 4 min
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Candidate ghosting: The silent trend disrupting today's job market 

Job seekers stop communicating with employers at any point during the hiring process, from applying to almost getting an offer. Natalie Morgan from CareerPlug and Ryan Englin of Core Matters explored this trend, discussing why it’s common and giving employers ways to tackle this challenge. 

The scale of the problem 

The phenomenon of ghosting in recruitment has intensified recently, with a significant increase in both job seekers and employers engaging in this behaviour. Surprisingly, 28% of job seekers have ghosted an employer, a notable rise from 18% in 2019, according to Indeed’s report on Employer Ghosting.

Meanwhile, a staggering 76% of employers have experienced ghosting, and 57% perceive it to be more prevalent than in the past.

Interestingly, the trend is not one-sided. About 46% of employers believe that ghosting by companies towards job seekers has also increased. A striking 77% of job seekers report being ghosted by prospective employers since the pandemic began, with 10% experiencing this even after receiving a verbal job offer. 

The factors behind candidate ghosting are diverse. A significant 20% of job seekers ghost after receiving a more appealing job offer, while 13% do so due to salary dissatisfaction, and 15% because they decide the job isn’t the right fit. Interestingly, only a small fraction, 4%, attribute their ghosting to COVID-19-related reasons. 

In addition to these factors, the recruitment industry is facing a challenge: the rise of AI-generated fake applicants.

These advanced AI profiles, designed to mimic real job seekers, apply for positions, adding a layer of complexity to the recruitment process. Their inability to progress in the hiring journey contributes to inflated ghosting statistics, as they appear to drop out without notice.  

This emergence of artificial candidates necessitates the adoption of more sophisticated screening tools and strategies by recruiters, enabling them to effectively discern between authentic applicants and AI-generated profiles, thereby mitigating the skewed impact on the hiring process. 

This normalization of ghosting in the hiring process reflects a significant shift in recruitment dynamics. Employers are now more cautious, with 93% keeping records of ghosters.

This tracking could potentially impact candidates’ future job opportunities, as 80% of employers believe ghosting will negatively affect a candidate’s career prospects. This belief marks a change from previous attitudes, where ghosting was viewed as less of a serious issue. 

In response, both job seekers and employers are adapting. Job seekers are increasingly wary of the repercussions of ghosting, with 54% regretting the action and recognizing its potential consequences, a significant jump from 32% in 2019. Employers, on the other hand, are focusing on improving communication and nurturing relationships with candidates to minimize the impact of ghosting. 

Underlying causes 

The ghosting phenomenon in recruitment is a complex issue influenced by various factors. The job market has shifted to be more candidate-driven, offering numerous options and fostering selectivity among job seekers. This change, coupled with slow response times from employers, nudges candidates towards other opportunities.

The ease of online job applications encourages applying to multiple jobs with less commitment, further increasing the likelihood of ghosting.

A cultural shift has normalized this behaviour in professional settings, partly fuelled by employers’ historical practice of ghosting candidates. Economic uncertainties and the COVID-19 pandemic have also altered job preferences and availability, while a lack of personal connection in the hiring process makes ghosting easier.

Additionally, candidates often choose ghosting when better job offers arise, aligning more closely with their career aspirations or salary expectations. All these elements contribute to a recruitment landscape where ghosting is increasingly common. 

Effective strategies to combat ghosting 

To fight ghosting in hiring, companies can use several strategies. Quick replies to applications show candidates you’re interested, for exampling AI tools like, Scotty and Mona can convey a company’s keen interest to candidates. This not only engages potential hires more effectively but also fosters a positive perception of the employer.

Additionally, implementing a two-way authentication (2WA) system on job boards can be a significant step.

This approach ensures a higher level of security and authenticity in the application process, effectively reducing the influx of fake and bot-generated applicants. By incorporating such measures, companies can streamline their recruitment process, ensuring more genuine interactions and potentially lowering the incidence of ghosting.

Building a real connection during interviews, like talking about common interests, can make a candidate less likely to ghost.

Clear job ads that show what your company is like and who the candidate would work with can attract people who really want the job. Keeping track of who ghosts you can help in future hiring decisions. Also, adapting to new ways of working, like offering remote work, can keep candidates interested.

For example, if a company quickly responds to an application with a friendly call and discusses the job’s benefits and the team, the candidate might feel more connected and less likely to ghost. 

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