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Job Ghosting—Why It Happens and How to Prevent It

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Employers are shook. A recent study published by Clutch revealed that a whopping 41% of job seekers believe it's okay to "ghost" a new job. Basically, people are accepting jobs, and then declining the offer, or just…completely disappearing. The practice is known as ghosting.

What is Ghosting?

Ghosting, a term once allocated to the depths of online dating, is an impolite way of ending a personal, or in this case, professional relationship, by ceasing all communication and contact. This includes avoiding phone calls, ignoring emails and texts, and generally disappearing from a person—or employers—world. It’s the digital era’s version of radio silence.

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Why are Employees Ghosting?

First, let’s be clear—this is not a new phenomenon brought about by those notorious Gen Zers and Millennials. People have been ghosting jobs forever. We just didn’t have a cool, modern word for it.

Instead of placing the blame entirely on the younger generations, hiring managers, HR professionals, and yes, even the C-Suite need to evaluate why employees are ghosting positions.

Better Offers

Analysts point to the low employment rate to explain the rise in ghosting. The current economy means applicants have more jobs to choose from. It’s safe to assume that yours is not the only company a candidate has applied to. Sometimes, a person accepts an opportunity, only to receive a better offer after the fact. Does that excuse not taking the time to reach out and formally withdraw from an accepted position? To you as the employer probably not. But to that candidate, they may feel that since they’re not a part of your team they don’t owe you loyalty of any kind. It’s really that simple. 

But there's more to ghosting than lack of loyalty, potential candidates and even current employees have voiced a number of reasons they ghost, including:

Messy Application Processes

Nothing can alienate a potential employee more than a messy application process. Outdated technologies, too many demands during the process, lack of communication—are all major turn offs.

Dissatisfaction with a Position

Unhappy employees are no longer willing to work things out.

Bad bosses, low salaries, unfair expectations and an overall lack of feeling valued are some of the reasons employees are ghosting current positions.

Employers won’t like hearing this but…they’re kind of in need of an attitude adjustment. Many managers give off the vibe that employees should simply be lucky to have a paycheck. And that doesn’t sit well with Gen Z or Millennials.

Younger workers value company culture, flexible work opportunities, and most importantly, managers who recognize their needs.

Understanding metrics and developing an HR strategy that aims to strengthen employee retention can help employers provide a better employee experience.  

Employers Ghost Too

There’s been a lot of indignation expressed over this seemingly new trend. But, it’s all a bit ironic when you consider that employers are notorious for doing the same thing to applicants.

How often have candidates sent follow-up emails after an interview, only to receive crickets from the hiring manager? The fact is, when the unemployment rate was sky high, and new, qualified (sometimes too qualified) candidates were easy to find (and underpay), employers weren’t overly concerned with maintaining a professional standard of communication.

Recruiters, managers and yes, even HR has defended this practice arguing it’s due to a lack of time, high applicant influx, waiting for feedback from managers, or because they’re waiting to see if another applicant will take the extended offer.

Regardless, applicants are often left in the dark, wondering what they did wrong and what they could’ve improved. When employers ghost, candidates are left with a bad taste in their mouths. Employers who ghost negatively impact how a person views their company and its culture. Not something you want in this age of call out culture.

What’s to be Done?

Is there an end in sight to the phenomenon of ghosting? It’s hard to say. But what we should all be able to agree on is that employers often create the circumstances that lead candidates and employees to walk away. Using technology focused on the employee and the candidate experience can help employers find and secure and retain the best talent. Without it, employers will keep being ghosted by top talent that’s unwilling to settle for less.  


Mitzi Sorokolit

Mitzi joined the insurance industry in 1988 with Empire Life working on individual life and disability products. From there, she moved to Laurentian Financial as an executive assistant to the VP of sales. ITT Hartford was her next move, where she joined the specialty markets team that at the time was focusing on high net worth individual life and pre-arranged funeral products. She spent a few years self-employed working for brokers as back office support for individual life polices and retirement compensation arrangements. Mitzi joined Clover Insurance in 1999, where she handled life sales and moved to group benefits in 2004. She joined GroupQuest in 2006 as a marketing assistant and has worked her way up as the company grew. Mitzi is married to Jeff and they have a son, Christopher. She has a love of football, enjoys spending time up north, and takes any opportunity to travel.