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Hire Veterans Halloween Blog Special: 'Ghosts' in the Recruitment Industry

Hire Veterans Halloween Blog Special: 'Ghosts' in the Recruitment Industry

The dawn of the pandemic has opened up the world to many things including new practices and vocabularies: one of which is 'Ghosting'. Ghosting is a term that is initially and more commonly used in the dating world. It occurs when a party starts contact and then all of a sudden terminates communication when the other party is already engaged into the conversation, relationship, or activity.  

Nowadays, ghosting has spread throughout the many aspects of our community. It is present in social media, e-commerce, and even in the recruitment industry. Don't be surprised when someone tells you that ghosts are lurking in the office because, in this day and age, somehow that is true!

The ghosts in the hiring industry are not as scary as the elemental ghosts, though. They won't chase after you. In fact, if you've been ghosted, it will be the other way around. You might chase the ghosts instead. Nevertheless, the many ghosts in the recruitment industry are people that you should be wary about. 

Who are the Ghosts in the Recruitment Industry?

Ghosting can be done by both parties: employers and applicants alike.

Ghost Employers

Generally speaking, employers are more likely to ghost than the workforce. This is driven by the fact that they are not in the "needing" end of the communication. Hence, they will most likely be the ones to initiate contact with the applicants and then will have the upper hand in leaving the latter hanging afterwards.

They will try to pursue job seekers. They will tell them that they are potential candidates and will engage them to respond to their job ads; then invite them directly for a job interview. But after the candidate has complied, when the time comes for them to provide an update about the decision for the open post, they will be difficult to keep in contact with. 

Instead of informing the candidate that he/she was not accepted, ghost employers will opt not to respond at all to the follow up attempts of the job seeker. They are almost always away from their desks. They rarely answer their phone lines. They don't open up emails or requests for updates. 

Ghost Candidates 

At the opposite side of the spectrum: there are ghost candidates. These are candidates who reach out to employers to get more information about job posts but mid-recruitment process will suddenly disappear and become hard to reach. At first, they are eager to ask about the job description, employment requirements, salary and benefits. They might even agree to appear for a job interview. What the employer does not know, though, is that this candidate is simultaneously scouting for other open positions with another company or many companies. Once they find a more favorable job post or offer, they will not bother to update the initial employer anymore. 

Why are there Ghosts in the Recruitment Scene?

Recruiters, especially those that work under a staffing agency, may ghost because they have application quotas that they need to reach. Instead of giving each candidate ample time and attention, they are driven by the deadline and numbers set by their agency. They focus too much on 'fast hiring' instead of quality long-lasting recruitment. Their eye is in the quota and not on the position nor on the individual candidates.

When you hire fast, you normally move on from one applicant to another. The best practice in the recruitment industry is to immediately inform the unsuccessful candidates that they did not get the job. However, since the focus again of ghost recruiters is in the quota, they spend their time reaching out to other potential candidates instead. They easily move on and forget about the applicants that do not make the cut.

Job seekers may also have self-preserved interest in ghosting employers. As discussed in the previous section, a candidate may have already accepted another job offer. Instead of formally informing the other employer about this, the job seeker will opt not to respond and just hope that the employer will understand that he/she is no longer interested to apply for the position. The trend of job seekers ghosting employers has significantly increased in the present times because of the pandemic's impact to the current job market conditions. 

What are the Impacts of Ghosts in the Recruitment Arena?

Either way, the practice of ghosting in the recruitment industry is a BAD PRACTICE. It definitely leaves a bad impression on the "victims".

A company's reputation may be tainted by the ghosting practices of its recruiters. It can lead to lesser applicants and bad job board reviews.

On the other hand, a job seeker can be banned from applying again to the company that he/she has ghosted. The candidate may even be banned from ever applying for numerous employers, especially when the ghosted recruiter is in charge of hiring for several companies.

How to Avoid Ghosts in the Recruitment Industry?

There really is not a fool-proof method to getting hired or in hiring candidates. You cannot avoid it if it is bound to happen or if the other party intends to do that to you. What you hold is your reaction and your control of the situation. Below are the things that you can at least try to do to prevent the ghosting scenario.


For Recruiters/Employers:

1. Maintain constant communication throughout the process. Job seekers may not actually intend to ghost an employer but when communications are not constant, you open up their attention to other opportunities. It can also create an impression that you are not serious about entertaining candidates. Sending constant updates from the application to on-boarding process helps keep job seekers engaged and decreases their tendencies to ghost. 

2. Be truthful in your job posts. Truth equates to respect. As Meryl Streep has said in her powerful 2017 Golden Globe speech: "Disrespect invites disrespect." If you are not truthful with your job advertisements, how do you expect to get honest, interested applicants? 

3. Inform the candidates when they do not meet the cut. A recruiter holds the professional responsibility of informing an applicant when he/she does not qualify for the job. It is your rightful duty to inform them whether they get the job or not. Treat the task as business, not personal; but do not forget to treat the candidates as persons, too. 


For Job Seekers:

1. Only make necessary follow ups. As the one needing the job, you do not want to scare away a potential employer. You should try not to be overly curious about the position. Ask only the necessary questions and contact the employer only when needed or typically allowed. Generally, you may contact the employer only after the following steps:

  • Job screening - Send a short thank you message indicating appreciation of their time to consider your application.
  • Interview Process - You are allowed to reach out to your recruiter or interviewer (if it is a different person like a hiring manager) after the interview to thank them and let them know that you will be waiting for their update. If they promised a turnaround time of when you can expect to hear back from them, you can also send a request for update after that time has lapsed. 
  • Signing of Job Offer - The have already offered the position to you. The deal is almost done. You have submitted your signed offer but have yet to hear back about the onboarding process or schedule. You can contact the HR associate or manager to ask for an update about your employment.


2. Promptly respond to communication. The golden rule states that you must 'do unto others what you want others to do unto you.' If you want an employer to respond to your application, you should also learn how to respond promptly to their updates or requests.

3. Do not overblow your resume. The hiring industry maintains a harmonious relationship between employers and job seekers when they are truthful in their dealings with one another. Employers are precise in finding the right fit for their vacant positions. Although you are driven by your need to get the job, do not use that as a reason to exaggerate or be dishonest in your resume. As a candidate, you also want a job that suits what you can deliver. Overblowing some or all information in your resume may drive away employers and can lead to them ghosting you because of it.


In conclusion, ghosting can be detrimental to the recruitment industry. It is something that we all should strive to avoid practicing. It not only leaves a bad impression on the aggrieved party but also wastes both parties’ precious time, energy, and hopes in employing a candidate or seeking employment.