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Job ghosting: The sudden silence

13/06/2021 2024/06

Never heared of it? But certainly experienced it!

Whether professionally or privately, you have probably already dealt with ghosting. Do you know the situation when a long-standing friend suddenly doesn't get in touch with you any more, almost "disappears", and you don't know why? This is exactly what ghosting is! Nowadays, many people take it for granted to look for a new job online. But the ease of the digital application process also has its downsides: Job ghosting is a growing problem that can have negative consequences for both applicants and companies.

What exactly is Job Ghosting?

If you, as an applicant, do not hear anything more from the company or the company is waiting for a response from you and you are no longer available, this is also called job ghosting. The parties become a "ghost ".

In most cases ghosting takes place after an initial interview. In other cases, ghosting takes place after you have sent your application or after a successful job interview, in which all parties agreed at first that an employment contract will or can be concluded.

Ghosting after an interview (from the applicant's point of view)

However, a sudden disappearance cannot be ruled out in the further course of the application process. In practice, it often happens that after an introductory meeting (digital or face-to-face), nothing more is said. The company has now been familiarised with and, in the best case, the applicant's trust has been gained.

The best example in this situation is the statement: "We'll get back to you next week." But nothing happens. If applicants don't hear anything for several weeks and don't get an update on their application, the frustration is great. What has become of it? Has the company decided in favour of another candidate?

Ghosting after an interview (from the employer's point of view)

Of course, ghosting does not only occur with applicants, but also with companies. And with similar frequency. According to the Candidate Experience 2023 study conducted by softgarden e-recruiting GmbH in the same year, one in ten of the more than 3,800 participants had already experienced job ghosting. For HR managers, such situations are part of everyday working life, but a lot of working time is always involved in these processes, which can be described as wasted after countless attempts.

In the worst case scenario, ghosting occurs when the job interview at the company went very well and a decision has been made. It's a good fit on all sides and the employment contract has been signed. But then it happens: the new employee doesn't start work. According to the above-mentioned study, this is no longer an isolated case. More than 4 per cent of those surveyed have already signed an employment contract and then not taken up the position without ever contacting the company again. One of the reasons for this is the current abundance of offers on the labour market. A "better job offer" is the main reason for this type of job ghosting.

Ghosting in jobs can occur in many different forms.
Often there is no reason given for job ghosting and suddenly the contact stops.
Often there is no reason given for job ghosting and suddenly the contact stops.

Possible reasons causing Ghosting

There are various reasons why ghosting can occur. Whether on the part of the applicant or the company, these do not always have to be malicious in nature.

Triggers on the company side:

  • The company does not see any potential collaboration in the CV. The application is therefore ignored and "pushed aside".
  • During the interview, it became clear to the HR manager that "it just doesn't fit". Now he/she is confronted with the situation of a rejection and wants to avoid it. Applicants are put off indefinitely.
  • It can also happen that a "better" applicant has been found and there is a lack of personnel capacity to inform all applicants.
  • The most unpleasant reason is that the company stalls the applicant as a "second choice" because the favourite could still drop out.

Triggers on the applicant side:

  • Applicants can realise during an interview that this company is not the right fit for them.
  • If benefits and salary do not match the expectations, this can also be a reason for ghosting.
  • However, applicants are often simply uncomfortable cancelling.
  • Another common reason is that the candidate has moved on to another job and can no longer be contacted.

Both the company and the applicant may find it difficult to refuse the other person. We are all only human and don't want to hurt others, which applies here. However, consequences are ignored. Because an applicant who knows that he/she will not like it in this company will never start working there and a company that does not see an applicant in its corporate culture will not hire this candidate.

How can you deal with job ghosting?

Job ghosting can be avoided at an early stage. All parties should discuss this openly and honestly. Because a cancellation is not a bad thing. It is binding! Everyone knows where they stand. Of course, this is easier said than done. As an applicant, you should bear the following in mind. Remain calm and patient. Do not build up unnecessary pressure. In some cases, this can have a negative impact on your application.

If a company does not get back to you, the first thing you should do is jump over your own shadow and pick up the phone yourself. Don't be offended or too proud to enquire yourself. Often there is no malicious intent behind the company not getting back to you. If you cannot reach your contact person, try the central telephone number.

If the company still does not get back to you or you continue to be put off, set the debt. Give the company a deadline for you to withdraw your application. Always ask yourself whether you would like to work for a company that does not get back to you. It is also important that you honour your own commitments and stop the application process so that all parties are aware of it.

But as a company, you can also do a lot to prevent job ghosting.

  • Employer branding helps to improve your candidate experience. A positive and authentic employer brand attracts applicants and conveys the values and corporate culture in which ghosting has no place. When it comes to developing an effective employer branding strategy and an unmistakable employer value proposition, our experts are your trusted partner.
  • Use social media and your career website to actively engage with applicants. Answer questions and comments promptly and show that you value applicants. There are also other HR marketing tools that have a positive effect. Feel free to contact us to find out more!
  • The recruitment process can also help to counteract job ghosting. For example, a standardised application process ensures that all applicants are treated equally and that there are no misunderstandings or delays. Make sure that all employees who come into contact with applicants are informed about how to avoid ghosting and know how to communicate professionally.

Sources: newsroom.de | karrierebibel.de | kununu.com | dahmen-personal.de

About the Author
Linda Wobus
Student trainee Social Media Recruiting

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