• Ghosting still prevalent in recruitment, although on the decline
  • 42% of candidates surveyed having been ghosted – a one third reduction since 2022 (down from 65%).
  • 9 in 10 (87%) are left feeling depressed or down
  • 91% are left with a bad image of the brand as a result

Ghosting, a term usually used to describe the sudden disappearance of someone after regular contact in personal relationships, is continuing to be an issue in the job market, although since the industry campaign End Ghosting was founded in 2022, it is on the decline.

New research from recruitment tech company Tribepad shows that the prevalence of ghosting has decreased, but it is still widespread, with 42% of candidates surveyed having been ghosted – a one third reduction since 2022 (down from 65%).

Younger people are much more likely to have been ghosted – or at least recognise it as such. Seven in ten (69%) of 18-24 year old candidates have been ghosted, compared to just one in seven (14%) of over 64s. 60% of candidates in the capital London have been ghosted. Given that getting a job and entering the workforce is more challenging than ever for our youngest generations, this poor practice is having a negative impact on the workforce.

The impact of ghosting in recruitment can be devastating. Nine in ten (97%) say it leaves them feeling down or depressed in some way, and nearly two fifths (39%) say it takes several weeks or even months to get over the experience of being ghosted, with 25-44 year olds being most severely afflicted.

It’s not just job seekers who are affected. Ghosting a candidate is bad for business and leaves a negative impression of the organisation – a huge 9 in 10 (91%) say it makes them think less of a brand. Candidates who experience ghosting are less likely to apply for future positions at the company or recommend it to others. This loss of potential talent and brand advocates can impact the company’s ability to attract qualified candidates in the long run, shrinking the talent pool.

Tribepad is calling on brands to come together to sign a pledge to end ghosting in recruitment. So far these include Colas Ltd, British Medical Association, Southeastern Railways and Entain plc, the brand behind Ladbrokes. Brands can sign up to the pledge at www.end-ghosting.com. Candidates that have been ghosted are also invited to share their stories about their ghosting experience on the website too, to raise awareness of the widespread problem and its effect, as well as what they would like to see from brands.

The reasons for ghosting may include an abundance of candidates going for any one role, and lack of time and resources to communicate effectively. Utilising technology to reduce administrative workload and automate where possible can help minimise the likelihood of a candidate being left wondering. Being transparent at the start of the process about the steps and timings involved for each one creates a level of transparency and accountability for both parties.

Recruitment is a two way process, and candidates also have some agency. One in five (19%) candidates have ghosted a prospective employer, rising to a third (36%) in London. However, it’s clear that more often it’s recruiters doing the ghosting – a practice that needs to stop.

 

Dean Sadler, CEO of Tribepad says “In 2022 we set up an industry wide campaign to End Ghosting in recruitment after finding out just how often it happens, the impact it has on individuals, and on a company’s reputation. Why? Because we’re on a mission to make recruitment fairer, faster and better for everyone. We know the landscape is hard – for everyone. Layoffs are occurring, the cost of living crisis is making people reconsider their career moves or take on second jobs, and automated systems are causing a spike in job applications, making it hard for hiring managers to filter through and identify the best people for their vacant positions. But that doesn’t mean it’s ok to not appreciate time, investment and emotional labour that goes into applying for a job, and just leave people hanging due to time pressures, a lack of resources, or even a way of avoiding difficult conversations. We want to see ghosting stop. In 2023 with all the technology and systems available to us to streamline recruitment processes, there is no reason to be ghosting anyone.”

 

A number of people have shared their stories of being ghosted when applying for a job in recent months:

I had one recruiter reach out via LinkedIn with what sounded a great role. They asked me to make changes to my CV, and I got invited for interview. On the day of the interview, despite reaching out numerous times, I still hadn’t received the Zoom link. I followed up a few times, and still to this day have never heard back. I was so excited, and then nothing. I know now that I would never work with that organisation as they lacked any sense of courtesy or compassion. When applying for jobs you have to jump through so many hoops, filling in forms, doing tests, and give your time and energy – and then you don’t even get a letter of rejection. Applying for jobs is already hard enough.” Carmela, 25, tech

“All was going well. Two interviews done, an offer made, an acceptance given, and contracts promised in the post. But the contracts never came, and my efforts to get in touch were ignored. Two weeks later, I saw the job advertised again. Would have been nice if they had told me.” James, 33, chef

“I think for most graduates, we’ve come to expect ghosting as normal. You have to apply for so many jobs, filling out lengthy forms and doing aptitude tests, and it takes a long time. It felt like a joy to get a response, even not a positive one, as at least there was closure. In the end I decided to go freelance, as I was fed up of being led on what seemed a bit of dance.” Toni, 25, PR