Brands called on to pledge to ‘End Ghosting’ and treat failed applicants better 
  • 65% of UK adults have been ghosted part way through the recruitment process
  • 94% of ghosted candidates retain negative feelings towards that company
  • 86% ghosted candidates left them feeling down about themselves
  • 17% of people were left feeling severely depressed
‘Ghosting’; a behaviour usually associated with unforgivable dating app etiquette, is now rife in recruitment, according to a new study. 
The practice is affecting candidate mental health and the reputation of brands, with 94% of job applicants citing that the experience left them with negative feelings towards the brands in question. 
Two-thirds (65%) of the UK public have been ghosted by a recruiter according to recruitment  software company Tribepad; almost all of them (94%) said it left them with a negative perception of the company they applied to. 
Three in four men (72%) have been ghosted during the job-seeking process, in comparison to three in five women (58%), with Londoners experiencing the poor practice most often (74% of all job seekers ghosted). 
The impact on mental health is significant, according to the report. 86% of respondents claim the experience has left them down or depressed in some way, and 17% saying they had been left severely depressed.
Dean Sadler, CEO of Tribepad said:
“The whole planet has been upended in the past 18 months and it’s inevitable that the impact of that is far-reaching. The HR and recruitment industry is under intense pressure with the job market contracting and expanding at an incredible pace. Nonetheless, the practice of ghosting applicants, at potentially one of the most stressful times of their lives, is having a significant negative impact on the individual, and how brands are viewed. We are calling for brands to pledge to acknowledge and address the problem, because it’s the right thing to do, and because doing so will safeguard their reputation and their future at the same time.”
More than four in 10 (43%) UK applicants who have been ghosted say it took them weeks or even months to recover, with 12% of men saying it took them several months to get their confidence back. 
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. The campaign launches today, and brands can sign up to the pledge at 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. 
Dean Sadler, CEO of Tribepad concluded:
“There may not be a code of conduct for dating apps, but we all know that ghosting is extremely poor form. It’s the last thing you would expect from a professional recruitment process. The rise of ghosting in recruitment damages brand reputations; almost every ghosted adult says it negatively affects how they view that brand. More importantly, ghosting damages people too and the sector needs to do better.”

The research suggests that older workers seem more mentally resilient, with a third (35%) of 55-65 year olds saying they got over the experience instantly compared to just 14% of 18 to 24 year olds.

Interestingly, the demographic using dating apps most frequently,* 25-34 year olds, take ghosting in recruitment the hardest. More than half (53%) taking weeks or months to get over the experience of being ignored post-interview. A quarter (25%) of this age group claims they’ve felt severely down or depressed after ghosting and a fifth (20%) saying they take months to recover, higher than any other age group. 

Cities in Scotland and Wales are the least ghosted in the UK with 56% of job-seekers in Glasgow, Edinburgh and Cardiff ghosted. Despite Celtic job applicants least affected by the practice, they are the amongst the most disgruntled in the UK when it does happen, with 61% saying it has a significant negative effect on how they feel about the brand, suggesting that perhaps those who experience ghosting more often are hardened to the recruitment process. 

Case study: ‘Ghosted by a global leader in online retail’

Lise Campbell Price, 50, an events and project manager from London said: “Last year, I applied for a role at a global leader in online retail after a senior employee at the company headhunted me on LinkedIn and asked me to have a call. He said I was ideal for the role. During the two week gap before my interview, I studied every day, under their recommendation.
“After a two day interview – which included back to back interviews, tasks, drafting competencies and being tested on the company’s values, they said they’d be back in touch by the end of the week. I never heard back from them, despite following up four times. The person who had headhunted me disappeared and is no longer a connection on my Linkedin. I also contacted him by email and was ignored. 
“I had put in so much time and effort, when I heard nothing back, I got in such a state with it all. What is wrong with me? Did I say something incredibly thick? Will I ever work again? It triggered a trail of thoughts that made me question everything. It’s not good for people to be treated like this. The only positive is that now I am researching how to set up my own ethical recruitment company, where this would never happen.”

By Lisa Baker, Senior Editor

Senior Editor Lisa Baker is the owner of Need to See it Publishing Group, providing contract news for business and news sites across the UK. Lisa is an experienced HR writer and commentator, editing HR publications for more than 5 years.