Main image of article How to Avoid Being Ghosted By Recruiters

According to numerous surveys, job applicants are increasingly being “ghosted” by employers—meaning that after some initial engagement with a recruiter or even an interview, employers cut off communication, leaving applicants unsure of their status.

In fact, according to Glassdoor, prospective employer “ghosting” has more than doubled since before the pandemic.

It’s even happening to candidates who were told that they were the “top choice” for a position, noted Frank Burgoyne, interview success coach and founder of Your Interview Success.

While ghosting may leave you feeling frustrated and confused, it doesn’t have to leave you powerless. Here’s a look at why “ghosting” by employers is becoming more prevalent and some things you can do to avoid being left in the dark.

Why “Ghosting” is Growing

While acknowledging that there's no excuse for ghosting candidates, Burgoyne says that many recruiting teams have been cut to the bone in recent years. Remaining staff are expected to manage a mountain of requisitions, which prevents them from dotting the i's and crossing the t's as they should. Plus, overwhelmed junior recruiters may not have the skills to deliver bad or awkward news to candidates, so they go silent instead.

Alternatively, the company may have offered the job to another person, and recruiters want to see how that pans out before resuming contact with other candidates. But the end result is that candidates are left in aggravating silence.

Technology is also to blame. Advances in tech have reduced personal contact and empathy, explained Gretta Perlmutter, coach and creator of the Coping With Ghosting website and podcast. “Some recruiters may feel that no follow up is necessary,” she added.

If all that wasn’t enough, the volatile economy is causing delays. Hiring decisions are being put on hold for three or four months as companies reprioritize hiring needs and reallocate funds. When recruiters need to refocus their efforts and attention on high priority requisitions, sometimes a ball gets dropped.

Here are some key steps to avoid getting ghosted.

Always Ask About Next Steps

Tech candidates are often hesitant to ask important questions at the end of an interview or introductory call with a recruiter, for fear of seeming too desperate or pushy.

But understanding the company’s sense of urgency about filling an open position and timing is critical to following up in a timely manner and prioritizing the opportunities in your personal pipeline.

In order to do that properly, candidates should ask a sequence of questions after every interaction that may be similar to the following:

  • What is the next step in the process?
  • When will I hear back?
  • What is your timeframe for bringing someone onboard?

Setting clear expectations early in the process shows that you're interested in finding the right job, and that you expect fair treatment from prospective employers.

Have a Follow-Up Plan

After an interview, send a thank you note expressing your interest, reinforcing your fit with the role and the company, and confirming that you look forward to hearing about the next steps by the promised date or timeline.

If you don’t hear back, check in at the end of the timeline and then weekly about three to four times before assuming you've been ghosted. Be friendly, assertive and persistent.

Strive for an overall tone in your follow-up messages that is confident and courteous and shows that you are engaged and anxious to move forward. The more you build relationships with recruiters and hiring managers, the less likely they are to “ghost” you.

If the recruiter doesn’t respond to your follow-up messages, send an email to the hiring manager confirming your interest but explaining that you haven’t heard back and would like to receive an update.

Reaching out to the hiring manager will probably spark a response. You may not receive positive news, but at least you’ll know where things stand.

Become a Referred Candidate

While referred candidates still need to go through all the steps in the vetting process, employers are less likely to “ghost” a referred candidate for fear of alienating the employee who made the referral.

If you can’t score a referral, try to connect with current employees of the companies you want to work for. Insiders may know about internal candidates who are being considered for a position, budget constraints or business issues that can affect your chances of getting hired or being “ghosted.”

How to Respond

If you’re ghosted, remember you can’t control somebody else's behavior—but you can control how you respond, Perlmutter pointed out.

“Don’t blame yourself,” she added. Being ghosted is not personal and it’s not a reflection of your ability to succeed. You're not at fault for somebody else's poor behavior or their lack of mature adult communication skills.

Never burn bridges. Cut your losses, focus on better opportunities for ROI, and continue to apply to other jobs.

“Whatever you do, don’t stop your job search or you’ll lose your momentum,” Burgoyne warned. Given the economic uncertainty, labor market volatility and the increase in employer “ghosting,” don’t stop searching for a job until you receive a written offer. Rest assured that a better job is right around the corner.