(This column originally appeared in The Guardian)
We knew it was coming. The practice of “ghosting” has taken a 180-degree turn. Up until recently, many job candidates in this very tight labor market thought nothing of accepting interviews — even job offers — and then ghosting the company that recruited them by simply not showing up. Now, new data from jobs platform Glassdoor finds that a growing number of employers are doing the same.
According to Glassdoor’s chief economist, job seekers have increasingly reported being ghosted by employers since the pandemic began. “The share of interview reviews mentioning ghosting has almost doubled (+98%) since Feb ‘20,” he wrote in a Twitter post. “In January 2019, roughly 1.25% of interview reviews mentioned ghosting and that percentage has increased over the past two and half years to more than twice that amount.”
None of this should come as a big surprise. The economy is clearly facing headwinds.
The tech industry has already lost tens of thousands of jobs with companies like Microsoft and Salesforce recently announcing layoffs, which followed similar moves by big names like Netflix, TikTok, Cameo, Shopify and Lyft. The big firms in real estate, such as Compass and Redfin, have shed thousands of workers thanks to the tanking housing market.
Many firms in the financial services and mortgage industries are laying off workers, and big investment banks like Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan Chaseare heading in the same direction. The healthcare industry is retracting, and the retail industry is bracing for a slower holiday season — already Walmartand Amazon have dropped or frozen their holiday hiring plans. Big brands like Gap, Peloton, Wayfair and 7-Eleven have cut thousands of jobs in the past few months. And that’s not even including the countless companies that are eliminating jobs with technologies.
The tide is clearly turning and employers of all sizes can be pickier about the people they hire. So, just like all those candidates who ghosted them, now the employers are doing the ghosting. Awful, right? But maybe it’s a good thing.
The practice of ghosting tells more about a person — and an organization — than any number of interviews and screening tests
Regardless of who’s doing it, “ghosting” is a despicable, selfish, irresponsible and unprofessional practice. And the practice tells more about a person — and an organization — than any number of interviews, job references, and employment skills and screening tests. To agree to accept or extend a job offer, or an even an interview, and then just disappear without a word is probably one of the most lily-livered, unprofessional things a company or person can do in a professional environment.
Who would want to hire someone who behaves like this? If that person can’t be a grown-up and tell a recruiter face to face about their change in plans, then how can they handle similar situations with customers and suppliers, where plans and promises are always fluctuating?
And what about the company that behaves this way? Is this living up to their so-called “mission statement”? Do you believe they are “making the world a better place”, “creating value” or “building a sustainable future” like they say in their corporate propaganda? If an organization treats its candidates in such a manner, how does it treat its employees? Its shareholders? Its customers? How transparent would this company be in times of financial stress? What other corners are being cut in its products and products?
Forget about those AI-based video platforms, talent acquisition tools and workflow-generated recruiting software. Employers can read all the résumés and talk to all the references they want. Job candidates can read all the corporate news and reviews about the company. None of this holds a candle to whether or not a person or company ghosted. Ghosting says it all.
This is why I appreciate the tweet from Glassdoor’s economist. But it’s not enough. I would like to see his company — and his competitors like Monster and Indeed — provide both their corporate subscribers and job candidates with more detailed data about each other’s ghosting activities. I can think of no better information for a candidate or an employer to use when making a hiring decision.
As an employer I find it difficult to hire people based on just their résumés, an awkward interview and a couple of canned references. To me, it’s always no more than an educated guess as to how that person will perform and what kind of a human being they are. If a candidate ghosts me, I don’t get angry. I’m grateful. That candidate has done me a favor. And if my corporate values are such that I don’t find it a problem to ghost a job candidate then I’m doing that person a favor too.