Ghosting is a form of impersonal rejection involving someone cutting off communication with another with little or no notice. You may have experienced this in your life—during a job search or while dating—and it likely left you with a less than favourable opinion of the company or person who did it. This is why you shouldn’t ghost recruiters; regardless of the outcome of the hiring process, it is worthwhile to put in the effort to communicate.

Ghosting in the context of a job search means not replying to a recruiter’s email or voicemail at any stage of the process:

  • Not answering their questions about your career goals or work preferences
  • Not replying to requests for portfolios or references
  • Not responding to interview offers
  • Not showing up for an interview

Worse still, there has been an increase in ghosting occurring on the first day of work for new employees for some companies, which wastes time, money and productivity. USA Today suggests anywhere from 20 to 50% of applicants or newly hired employees ghost in some form.

Job markets with low unemployment rates tend to be favourable for job seekers, and you may feel there’s no harm in not continuing contact with a recruiter. However, everything you do and don’t do during the recruitment process gives the recruiter an idea of the sort of person you are, for better or for worse. Ghosting will leave a negative impression of you with the recruiter and with the companies they’re representing. The world is small, recruiters are very well-networked, and word of your actions can spread, especially if you continue to apply for jobs in the same industry or location.

No matter what stage you are at in the recruitment process, it is beneficial to respond to your recruiter’s messages and to keep them updated on your current situation. You can send an email to the recruiter thanking them for the opportunity to meet, for the interview(s) that took place, or for a job offer if you received one. If you feel you are not a good fit for the company or role, are holding out for other opportunities, or have another offer that you’re considering; be honest and let the recruiter know! It may feel uncomfortable in the moment, but everyone will leave feeling respected, and the recruiter will be more likely to consider you for future opportunities and to speak positively about you to potential employers.

Georgia Harper, Recruitment Consultant & Branch Manager for our Vancouver office, shares some thoughts on ghosting:

Recruiters really do care about our candidates! When you don’t show up for an interview, or don’t return our calls after we’ve built a relationship, our first response is to worry that something bad may have happened you! Once we know you’re actually okay and that we’ve just been ghosted, the trust has been broken.

We may get 30 or 60 or 100 applications on a job, and will likely only be able to present two or three to the employer. If we’ve chosen you, it’s because we’re excited about you as a candidate and feel there’s a good potential fit. If you disappear rather than being open and honest with us, not only will we personally not be able to represent you again, you’ve likely burned bridges with the company we are representing and with future opportunities. It’s ok to decline an interview or to decide that a job isn’t right for you… just tell us!”

When all is said and done, treat others as you want to be treated. Just as in everyday life, honesty and open communication are the best approach to your job search!