Ghosting in the hiring process: Just because both sides are doing it doesn’t make it right

Posted On July 1, 2019

Have you ever been ghosted?

You know, that’s when you’re emailing or texting with someone and they stop responding, leaving a question hanging or ignoring attempts to call them back in.

Hello? Are you still there?

According to an article earlier this year in Barron’s, ghosting has become prevalent in the job application process – by both sides.

Many of us have probably experienced ghosting from a potential employer or a company with which we’ve applied for a position. We sent our resume, made a follow-up phone call, maybe even got an interview and then, nothing. We were left to assume we didn’t get the job.

With unemployment currently low and the job market hot, however, ghosting has reportedly come full circle. An employer returns a call from a job applicant or tries to follow up with an email to a potential employee after an interview and gets no response.

While this may be tempting for some to chalk up to a perception of millennial self-centeredness, the reason for it is usually the same as before – except it’s now the job applicant who has other offers and has turned elsewhere.

The internet has made it easier for job-hunters to apply electronically for more jobs in less time than was previously possible. More applications makes it more difficult for both potential employers and job-seekers to make the time for a return call or email. It’s just math.

Peter Cappelli, the author of the Barron’s piece, makes the case that ghosting is a symptom of the transactional nature of hiring these days. While employers are focused on “cost per hire,” employees in situations with little reason to stay put – no incentives for seniority, little opportunity for advancement – jump ship for the slightest of advantages elsewhere.

The erosion of loyalty in the workplace, however, is not an excuse for an abandonment of courtesy. It may not be feasible for employers who receive hundreds of resumes for an open position to respond to every one, but is a response to those who interviewed too much to ask?

And even job-seekers who have applied for hundreds of jobs aren’t likely to hear back from all of those potential employers at the same time, or with the same level of interest. How long does it take to return a phone call or an email and say: “I’m sorry, but I’m no longer interested,” or “I’ve already accepted another position?”

Turnabout may be fair play, but that doesn’t mean it’s advisable. You may have your pick of jobs now, but that may not always be the case. Leave as many bridges unburned and intact as you can. You never know when you might need to cross back over them one day.

Categories: Work, Workplace