- One-fifth of workers polled by ZipRecruiter said they ghosted an employer in their latest job hunt.
- Workers in the 18-to-34 age bracket were the biggest culprits.
- One ghoster told us: “I’m the classic younger millennial, and I’m very deliberate with what I like.”
Most job seekers have a disappointing story about suddenly losing touch with a promising company. But ghosting — the practice of cutting off all communication without warning or explanation — goes both ways in the professional sphere.
Once a rare phenomenon, candidates in a tight labor market are increasingly abandoning employers after attending interviews — and sometimes even after accepting a formal job offer.
In an October survey by ZipRecruiter, 21.6% of respondents said they’d “ghosted” a prospective employer during their latest job hunt. The employment marketplace polled 2,550 US residents who’d started a new job within the previous six months.
Younger workers are the biggest culprits. In ZipRecruiter’s survey, those in the 18-to-34 age bracket were three times as likely as workers over 55 to have left an employer in the lurch.
What’s led to the rise in ‘professional ghosting’?
Companies — especially smaller businesses — are feeling the pinch. One-third of small businesses polled in Canada recently said they’d hired people who never showed up or stopped coming in work shortly after starting. Some simply cut off all communication midway through the application process, according to research by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business.
CFIB’s president, Dan Kelly, said this rise in “professional ghosting” might be a lasting symptom of the COVID-19 pandemic. Many companies fired and rehired staff amid successive lockdowns, and “employees understandably felt an erosion of confidence that their employer was providing them with stable work,” he said.
Kelly added that he thought labor shortages in both the US and Canada were empowering workers to cut off communication. The US unemployment rate has been consistently low since the end of pandemic-induced restrictions — remaining below 4% throughout 2022.
“Employers are desperate for workers, and employees know that there are plenty of jobs out there. As a result, they’re perhaps less concerned about potential damage to their reputation.”
Young workers want employers that align with their values
Nicole Gray, a 27-year-old marketer in London, described herself as a “serial ghoster.”
“I’m the classic younger millennial, and I’m very deliberate with what I like and what I don’t like,” she said.
Gray told Insider her recently diagnosed ADHD may have played into her recurrent pattern of ghosting but that she’s proud of how mindful she was about whether a company aligned with her values.
Before accepting a job, Gray always checks out company reviews on sites like Glassdoor and examines the social-media profiles of the senior-leadership team.
This has sometimes prompted her to withdraw, or even abandon, applications. Gray once ghosted a prospective employer after an initial interview. She said she had noticed that the company’s director had liked “a weird and disrespectful comment about women” on LinkedIn.
She’s also ghosted companies after negative interview experiences. On one occasion, Gray said, the interviewers “were critiquing somebody else’s CV in front of me and making fun of all the spelling mistakes.”
Gray didn’t respond to the hiring team after the interview. She said: “Deleted, blocked — that’s not for me.”
Another interviewer kept her waiting for about 40 minutes, she said, and didn’t offer any apology or explanation.
Gray said: “That’s just not the kind of company I want to work for.”
She told Insider she’s trying to become a “reformed ghoster” and make a conscious effort to offer specific feedback if she felt a prospective employer wasn’t the right fit. Nevertheless, she doesn’t feel too guilty about her past actions.
Gray said: “I felt like I’d be ghosted in return. Companies are really crappy at getting back to you.”