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Talent Management

Employee Ghosting: Why it Happens and How Recruiters Can Avoid It

One Minute Takeaway

  • When a job applicant suddenly starts ignoring messages, that’s “ghosting”
  • 83% of recruiters say a candidate has ghosted them
  • The solution is a faster, more efficient recruitment process

It’s every recruiter’s nightmare: you find the perfect candidate, the unanimous choice after an exhaustive interview process and you’re excited to offer them a job—but as soon as you do, they disappear, never to be heard from again. You’ve been “ghosted”.

For years, poorly run businesses have been doing this to job applicants. Cover letters go unopened and unsuccessful interviewees never hear a response. These bad experiences might explain why the tables can turn, with job applicants and even new hires ghosting employers.

Pre-pandemic, 83% of recruiters claimed a candidate had ghosted them. As the economy ramps back up and we move toward a likely jobs boom, businesses will once again find themselves in a battle for the best talent. The good news is, businesses can take steps to prevent ghosting becoming a major problem this time round.

What Is Employee Ghosting?

The concept of ghosting comes from the dating world, when a partner suddenly stops responding to all communication and you never see them again—they might as well have become a ghost. In HR, when we talk about employee ghosting, we really mean candidate ghosting. You’re most likely to lose contact with a pre-hire, before they make any commitments to your organization.

Employee ghosting does happen, though—and when it does, it’s a serious problem. If they’re a long-time employee, failing to show up would count as job abandonment. It could be down to burnout, a personal crisis or them simply being anxious about handing in a resignation.

It’s more common for an employee to stop showing up in their first few days with a company. They realize the job isn’t what they expected or hear back from another job they applied for. To avoid this, double down on offering a best-in-class onboarding experience. Sometimes, though, cases like this are unavoidable, and you can only be glad it’s happening now, not a few months into their tenure.

Candidate Ghosting

Here’s a more typical scenario—a candidate applies for many jobs at once. They hear back from several, including your company, and so happily accept your invitation for an interview. Meanwhile, they also interview for their dream role at another company. When they hear back from their employer of choice, they forget all about your offer, and never get back to you.

This can happen at any stage of recruitment. A candidate may decline a request to complete a pre-interview questionnaire, they may fail to show for an interview or they may even get so far as agreeing to join your company, but never turn up on their first day. Whatever their reasons, you’re left confused, frustrated and your recruitment team is back to square one.

Why Does Ghosting Happen?

The reality is, you’ll never know why a particular candidate ghosted you, but there are a lot of potential reasons. Early on in the recruitment process, it may be that a candidate feels they have no chance of making it all the way. They might decide to take a different path with their career or to stay in their current role.

Most often, a candidate will ghost recruiters because of a successful application at a different company. Just as it’s normal for recruiters to consider many different candidates, it’s unavoidable that applicants will send out multiple applications. Nobody likes radio silence, but if your company was always a back-up option, there’s not much you can do. What recruiters need to worry about are avoidable ghostings.

How to Prevent Candidate Ghosting

You can’t force candidates to inform you of their decisions (though you can set a good example and always respond, even with an automated email, to all unsuccessful job applicants). Instead, think about what you can change:

  • Broaden your reach so you have more top alternative candidates to consider
  • Automate communication to speed up your recruitment process
  • Improve benefits and compensation to compete with your competition
  • Create an award-winning company culture to up your appeal
  • Commit to onboarding so you can start integrating new hires before their start date

The Role of Recruitment Software

Without software, these improvements are a tough ask. If your competition is automating parts of their recruitment processes, you’re fighting a losing battle. Candidates might feel forced to accept their back-up offers over your company, because the application process is dragging on so long.

Paycor Recruitment keeps things simple, even when hiring remotely.

  • Create a robust candidate pipeline: ensure you always have a strong supply of applicants
  • Utilize referrals:incentivize your current employees to recommend top talent
  • Mobile-friendly:let candidates apply and interact however is most convenient for them
  • Candidate text messaging: stay connected and issue timely reminders
  • Automated offers: improve acceptance rates by making it easy for candidates to respond

While you’ll always need recruitment, you can minimize its importance by focusing on employee retention. Craft the right benefits packages, plan ahead with strategic succession planning and help your current team reach their potential with performance management and learning & development systems.

How Paycor Helps

Paycor builds HR solutions for leaders. With Paycor, you can modernize every aspect of people management, from the way you recruit, onboard and develop your team, to the way you pay and retain them. See how Paycor’s Talent Development software can help your organization.