In our series for Indeed’s Ghosting Week, we’ve explored how, when and why job seekers ghost employers during the hiring process. Now it’s time to stop ghosting in its tracks. In this final post, we’ll take everything we’ve learned and transform it into action — offering easy-to-implement, research-based strategies you can use to prevent ghosting.
You may be thinking, “Isn’t ghosting the job seeker’s problem since they’re the ones doing it?” Not so fast. Although 70% of recruiters assume candidates ghost because they receive another offer, job seekers tell us this is only true 40% of the time. So what other factors influence their decisions, and how can employers turn these on their heads?
Focus on clear, open communication
Communication is a building block for any good relationship, especially between employers and candidates. Both sides seem to realize its importance: 63% of employers believe better communication can help reduce ghosting, while job seekers name communication problems as one of ghosting’s biggest drivers.
These sentiments are stronger among Gen Z and Millennial job seekers than they are among older generations. Nearly one third of ghosters age 18-34 say they did it because they weren’t comfortable telling the recruiter or hiring manager they were no longer interested in the position. Only about one fifth of job seekers age 35-44 say the same. So what does all of this mean for employers?
Communicate early and clearly: Prioritize clear, open communication from day one of the hiring process. Make sure job seekers have all the information they need, including whom to contact with any questions or issues. Thirteen percent of ghosters say they disappeared because they didn’t know how to remove themselves from consideration, but the number jumps to 15% for the 18-34 age group. Employers can, and should, work to change this.
Focus on the candidate: Listen intentionally to candidates to understand their wants and needs. Encourage job seekers to ask questions and speak candidly about any changes in their interest level. And while timelines for responses should be communicated, don’t pressure candidates if they aren’t quite ready to commit. Of course, kindness also goes a long way; ensure that communication is friendly and attentive.
“Some recruiters seem in a hurry, not listening when you answer a question … [and are] not very personable,” explains one job seeker. “That’s when I stop responding to that recruiter.”
Be empathetic: Let empathy guide the way you communicate with candidates — even those who ghost. Many people just don’t feel comfortable speaking up. Unless you ask, you’ll never know the whole story, and some job seekers say they’ve ghosted because of their physical or mental health.
For example, one woman ghosted on a warehouse job after learning she was pregnant before her first day. She may have assumed nothing could be done, leading the employer to assume she was unreliable. But if the employer had made her feel comfortable speaking up, perhaps they could have found another position for her.
Other job seekers say their ghosting was driven by anxiety. This is another situation that could have been mitigated if they had felt comfortable communicating their needs to the employer or if the employer had proactively taken steps to make interviews less stressful. These might include giving candidates their onsite schedules in advance, inviting them to request necessary accommodations for required assessments or making sure to include breaks between interviews.
“A time or two, I have accepted an interview but [found] it incredibly hard to get myself there [because] the anxiety had built too high,” explains one ghoster.
Keep the lines of communication open: In any relationship, sometimes one party needs a bit of encouragement. Here, continuous communication can work wonders. One job seeker regrets giving in to imposter syndrome early in their career.
“I was young, new to the job industry and was going through the hiring process for a really good company,” they explain. “I got scared ... I wouldn’t be able to do the job and just [started] wondering why they chose me.”
This job seeker eventually ghosted — but perhaps this could have been avoided by an encouraging word from the hiring manager ahead of time.
Harness transparency to build trust
Even in today’s hot market, searching for work is stressful. Job seekers are juggling multiple applications along with work and personal responsibilities, and they need to know where they stand.
A lack of transparency in the hiring process contributes to ghosting for 15% of job seekers, and the number goes up for Gen Z and millennial respondents. As hiring moves along, keep candidates in the loop about whether their hard work is paying off or if they should focus their efforts elsewhere.
Transparency can also help reduce frustrations about the process taking too long — a common complaint among candidates. One-quarter of respondents say they ghosted because of extended timelines; once again, the number is slightly higher among Gen Zers and millennials.
Some attribute this phenomenon to dwindling attention spans or younger generations needing to learn the ropes professionally, but providing greater transparency can go a long way to ameliorating the situation. Clearly communicate timelines at each stage of the process to job seekers so they can formulate realistic expectations and plan accordingly.
Job seekers want to know that the employer has their back
Your parents probably taught you that honesty is the best policy, and that also rings true in the workplace. Employers who demonstrate respect and honesty can help build trust with job seekers, proactively preventing ghosting.
Before signing on the dotted line for a new role, job seekers want to know that the employer has their back. It’s no surprise some job seekers ghost when they feel this trust has been — or could be — violated. Clearly communicate this information to the candidate, and be up front about salaries, roles and expectations. For recruiters and hiring managers, this starts by being honest with yourself about whether a candidate is a good fit for a position or, similarly, if this is the type of role they want.
“I'm an older worker, and I have found recruiters to be disingenuous when I sit with them face to face,” explains one job seeker. “They claim that they will find you a position, but I either never hear from them again, or I am being sent to interviews for jobs that pay less than I am used to making, or the job duties are below my skill set.”
Authenticity is an important component of honesty. Paint a clear picture for candidates of what day-to-day life is like at your company — preferably by including reviews or testimonials from employees. If this doesn’t click with the job seeker, make sure they know they can simply bow out — no ghosting necessary.
Breaking up is hard to do
This brings us to one of the most important, yet overlooked, aspects of a good candidate experience: letting them know when they aren’t chosen. Just as job seekers may be tempted to ghost rather than deliver bad news, recruiters can fall into the same trap. Remember that candidates would rather get a rejection than hear nothing at all.
“If you are an employer, take the time to let the candidate know they didn’t get the job,” says one frustrated job seeker.
Another is even more blunt about employers who pull a disappearing act: “While that might work when you’re 16 and want to break up with someone, it’s not professional at this stage of life.”
Always put your best face forward
Another thing your parents probably taught you is to mind your manners. In today’s tight job market, job seekers are in the drivers’ seat, and employers should be on their best behavior — or risk losing talent.
“I have ghosted after I interviewed because I didn’t like the person who interviewed me,” says a job seeker. “She was very snobby and judgmental, and I couldn’t imagine working with her.”
Others echo this sentiment, saying that job seekers are more likely to ghost if they see recruiters or hiring managers being rude, mean or disrespectful. Remember that you’re not only interviewing the job seeker, they’re also interviewing you. Everyone needs to be professional and courteous.
Nurturing candidate-recruiter relationships helps ghosting disappear
Indeed’s research on ghosting echoes common lessons from our personal lives. The hiring process revolves around the relationship between candidate and recruiter — and like any relationship, it depends on communication, transparency and honesty to thrive. When any of these elements break down, job seekers are more likely to ghost. While it’s impossible to eliminate ghosting entirely, these research-based strategies can help minimize this hiring headache.
Better communication ensures candidates have what they need, and transparency lets them know where they stand. Honesty and authenticity are crucial for positive experiences on all sides, helping to facilitate transparency and communication from day one of the hiring process. And of course, be sure to treat candidates with respect, courtesy and professionalism.
Using these targeted yet timeless strategies, you can make ghosting disappear.