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The Human Element: Why Do People Ghost?

And why is it more accepted, even normal, today?

Recently, there have been many publications on “ghosting” which, according to Dictionary.com, is “the practice of suddenly ending all contact with a person without explanation.”  Most of these articles are about ghosting in the dating world or leaving an event without saying goodbye. However, ghosting is present in the workforce as well in relationship-driven industries including B2B and B2C. Therefore, it makes sense why ghosting is happening more frequently than ever in the recruiting and staffing industry.

“A total of 48% of 600 polled by LinkedIn have seen an increase in ghosting since the beginning of 2018.”

This leads me to question, “Why has rudeness become more accepted with highly professional and generally decent people,” and set me on a path to find connections between the many publications, blogs and podcasts discussing “ghosting,” “icing,” etc.

Here are a few reasons people are ghosting in the recruiting world:

  • It is currently a candidate’s market, where there are more jobs than there are qualified individuals to fulfill them, so candidates can be pickier on the roles they want to accept.
  • Unfortunately, recruiters are sometimes guilty of ghosting candidates. I like to think that most industry professionals are above this, but there are recruiting and staffing professionals that are either overwhelmed with their workloads or are not thinking long-term when they forget to follow up or decide not to follow up with a candidate.
  • Hiring managers are ghosting staffing agencies. From an agency perspective, if the candidate is not right for the role after an interview, we see more ghosting of feedback as the clients are simply moving on to the next candidates.
  • Managed Services Programs (MSPs) have been no strangers to ghosting, as recruiting agencies often work with the end-client via a vendor management system and little to no human interaction with the decision makers. This makes ghosting sometimes the norm for MSP recruiting scenarios.

Many human interactions are through email, social media, apps and other communication portals powered by technology which makes it easier to dehumanize these conversations.

Being “too busy” has also become an acceptable reason for ghosting. However, when we make human connections with other people, one would think the propensity to ghost is decreased, and yet an article from HuffPost suggests that there is a common fear of conflict.

There are many psychological reasons why someone ghosts, but at its core, ghosting is avoidance and often stems from fear of conflict.” HuffPost

Fear. This is causing us to avoid commonplace decorum in our personal and professional relationships. We make ghosting okay in our minds because we want to avoid conflict and/or negativity. The reality is; however, when we “ghost,” we are essentially kicking the conflict can down the road to deal with later.

For the recruiting and staffing industry, when a…

  • Candidate ghosts an interview or pulls a no-show, this is likely tracked in a CRM, and the recruiting company/potential employer will probably not want to interview them for any other roles in the future.
  • Recruiter ghosts it may ruin their reputation down the line and their company’s. This is a small industry and reputations are built over time, with Glassdoor, LinkedIn, Yelp reviews, etc.
  • Hiring manager ghosts on feedback or establishing next steps, reviews of the company on sites like Glassdoor will likely not be as desirable for other potentially quality candidates if news of their ghosting gets out.
  • Employee ghosts…references are still relevant! And the unemployment rate will not likely stay below 4% nationally forever. It’s the lowest it’s been in 50 years.

The Golden Rule of treating others as one’s self would wish to be treated is highly applicable in interpersonal relationships, and as of recently, the dilemma of “ghosting” in the workplace. Don’t hide behind technology as an avoidance vehicle. In today’s connected world, reputation and “reviews” go a long way.

Author: Quyen Pham Regional Director, West Coast