Ghosting is generally used in terms of dating. It’s thrown around, often in disbelief, when a person just — poof! — disappear without so much as a text message, Dear John email or Instagram “like.” They simply…go away.
But now, the irritating, bad-mannered trend is happening to businesses. Promising job candidates are ignoring emails, texts and phone calls. And some don’t even show up for their initial interview. LinkedIn Editor, Chip Cutter, describes it like this:
In fields ranging from food service to finance, recruiters and hiring managers say a tightening job market and a sustained labor shortage have contributed to a surge in professionals abruptly cutting off contact and turning silent — the type of behavior more often associated with online dating than office life. The practice is prolonging hiring, forcing companies to overhaul their processes and tormenting recruiters, who find themselves under constant pressure.
And when your job is to find the right candidate to fill a position, this behavior is infuriating. “If you don’t love your job [as a recruiter], you’ll beat your head on your desk,” John Widgren, a recruiter for Central Florida Health, tells LinkedIn.
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The act of ghosting a job is prevalent among younger generations, where it’s “almost become a new vocabulary” in which “no response is a response,” according to Amanda Bradford, CEO and founder of dating app The League.
Some candidates will actually show up for their first day of work before they ghost, never to return for a second shift without so much as an “I quit” text.
As Cutter explains, this behavior likely stems from inexperience and an abundance of job offers.
Professionals who entered the workforce a decade ago, during the height of the Great Recession, have never encountered a job market this strong. The unemployment rate is at an 18-year low. More open jobs exist than unemployed workers, the first time that’s happened since the Labor Dept. began keeping such records in 2000. The rate of professionals quitting their jobs hit a record level in March; among those who left their companies, almost two thirds voluntarily quit. Presented with multiple opportunities, professionals face a task some have rarely practiced: Saying no to jobs.
It could also be the fear of confrontation. “Candidates are winding up with multiple offers, and you can’t accept them all,” Dawn Fay, district president at Robert Half International in New York, tells LinkedIn. “Individuals just inherently don’t like conflict or disappointing people.”
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Not that this needs to be said, but recruiters ask that job candidates simply communicate. “Don’t accept jobs if you’re not serious about taking them. If you do need to drop out of the process, say so.” Sending an “I decline your job offer” text isn’t ideal, but if that’s the only way you know how to communicate, it’s better than nothing.