Ghosting During a Job Search: How to Help Clients
It happens to many. You reach out to someone and you are awaiting a response. The response doesn’t come and suddenly you realize that your email has gone into cyberspace. This is often due to a common phenomenon — ghosting.
Ghosting happens when someone ends a relationship without communicating officially that it’s over. And, this doesn’t just happen in personal or social networking circles. Ghosting can leave jobseekers feeling frustrated and lacking closure. It can derail confidence in the job search and leave them mystified about their career path.
Research commissioned by the recruitment firm Robert Half uncovered that two of the top three complaints of jobseekers concern the flow of information from prospective employers. Slow feedback was an issue for the 1,000 respondents at 53%. Poor communication from hiring managers posed a concern for 44%.
Employers Experience Ghosting, Too
Ironically, ghosting happens to employers as well. A CBC News article revealed that some individuals fail to show up for interviews or even their first day on the job. According to one recruiting firm, about 20% to 25% of candidates could drop out of an active hiring process without explanation, even after receiving a verbal offer of employment.
Recruiters in Calgary, Toronto, and Montreal indicated that candidates who ghost most often tend to be younger workers in the first 5 to 10 years of their career. Katie Dolgin, co-founder of Found People Inc., reports that ghosting has increased, affecting 15% to 20% of client job postings.
A survey by Indeed involving 4,000 job seekers revealed that only 18% say that they have ghosted an employer during the hiring process. Yet, 83% of employers say they have been ghosted. It’s a two-way street and a widespread phenomenon.
Why Does Ghosting Happen?
Ghosting happens for different reasons. A party may want to dissolve the professional relationship or signal an unconscious end to an agreement. Ghosting can serve as a recourse for those who want to avoid confrontation. Or, it may serve to exercise a sense of power or control. In some cases, this can be perceived as a form of “passive bullying.”
5 Tips to Help Clients Deal with Ghosting
- Support your client in reframing the situation and putting it into perspective. Help the client identify and understand the possible rationale for the ghosting by trying to see the employer’s or recruiter’s perspective. Sometimes, ghosting can happen as a result of stringent company policies or it could be the result of a communication issue caused by having to navigate contact with several candidates. Ghosting is not necessarily a reflection on your client’s performance or character. Encourage your client to avoid self-blame or guilt. If ghosting appears to be a recurring pattern, then work with your client to examine earlier experiences to uncover the root cause, then carve out strategies or solutions for proactively tackling the issue.
- Coach your client to remain level-headed and mature in handling the situation. Remind your client to avoid saying anything rash out of frustration, in person or on social media. Always handle the matter professionally and calmly to avoid burning bridges. The scenario of “six degrees of separation” often rings true in a job search — your client’s next boss might even know the ghoster!
- Encourage your clients to pay close attention to their instincts. Sometimes reaching out to the hiring party again may be prescribed, while in other instances, it may be best to let things go. Often, the way that someone is treated during the recruitment process can reveal how they will be treated later as an employee at that company. Support your client to resolve the situation diplomatically and professionally, without taking it personally.
- Remind your client that he/she deserves to be treated with respect and integrity, and to treat others the same. If your client has been ghosted by the same person before, it may be time to just move on and remember the lessons learned. A key question to ask your client is how he/she wants to be treated and is that treatment mirrored in how he/she behaves toward others? Support clients in firmly believing in their value, making integrity-based choices, and honouring their core values while respecting others.
- Help your client to maintain confidence and proceed with the job search. One, or even a few, ghosting experiences does not define your client’s worth, nor should it hinder his/her progress. A job search journey has its ups and downs. Ghosting may signal a less-than-ideal opportunity or ineffective timing. Transform setbacks into opportunities, encouraging your client to move forward in a more empowering direction.
Help Clients Reduce the Risk of Being Ghosted
Champion your client to proactively manage the job search through relationship building, strategic networking, and follow-up. Ensure your client applies to jobs that he/she is qualified for. Motivate your client to find out about next steps in the interview process to elicit a clear timeline. Coach your client to keep the lines of communication open by following up with a courteous thank-you note that reiterates his/her interest in the position.
Ghosting happens to many jobseekers, sometimes without warning or obvious reason. The important thing is to not let ghosting impact confidence but keep moving forward with an empowered perspective.
Lori A. Jazvac is a passionate, award-winning Master Certified Résumé Strategist and Certified Employment Strategist through Career Professionals of Canada. As a multi-certified Master Résumé Writer and Certified Career Transition Coach, she specializes in helping clients navigate challenging career transitions. In 2013, an empowering vision inspired Lori to launch Creative Horizons Communications, a holistic career services firm where she virtually supports jobseekers around the globe to embrace their next career milestone. In her spare time, Lori enjoys dance, blogging, watching comedies and reality shows, yoga, and taking long walks in nature.