What is Ghosting and How Can Small Tech Companies Avoid It?

What is Ghosting and How Can Small Tech Companies Avoid It?

With the economy booming and unemployment falling companies are now having to deal with shortages in quality employees. This has spurned a phenomenon called “ghosting” in the workplace.

What is Ghosting?

Broadly speaking ghosting is defined as the abrupt ending of a relationship by ceasing all communications without explanation. The moniker gets its roots from the online dating world, where participants would receive no advance warning but suddenly be cut off by a potential partner.

Similarly, job ghosting in business is when a candidate stops responding to emails, skips an interview, or signs a contract and then backs out. Depending on the degree of ghosting, companies stand to lose a lot. From the minor offense of not showing up on the first day to quitting without notice pose undesirable consequences for businesses.

While job candidates and employees have ghosted in the past, what’s unique now is the practice has now become more prevalent. According to a recent report by Indeed, 83% of employers surveyed reported being ghosted by a job candidate in some way.

The report indicates that employers see ghosting as a recent phenomenon, with 69% saying it started in the last two years. Despite it being a recent phenomenon, an alarming 83% of employers, report being ghosted.

Job seekers ghost at different stages in the hiring process from skipping job interviews (50%) to not responding to emails and calls from potential employers (46%).

The vast majority (84%) of employers have had candidates stood them up for interviews. While 65% of employers, report no-shows on their first day of work.

What is Ghosting in the Workplace?Description
Definition of GhostingGhosting refers to the abrupt termination of communication in a relationship, where one party ceases all contact without providing an explanation or warning. The term originates from online dating, where potential partners suddenly cut off communication.
Job Ghosting in BusinessIn the business context, job ghosting occurs when a job candidate or employee stops responding to emails, skips scheduled interviews, or signs an employment contract and then reneges on the commitment. Depending on the extent, ghosting can have adverse consequences for employers.
Prevalence of Job GhostingJob ghosting has become more widespread, with an increasing number of job candidates and employees exhibiting this behavior. A recent report by Indeed reveals that 83% of surveyed employers have experienced some form of job ghosting.
Recent PhenomenonEmployers perceive job ghosting as a relatively recent phenomenon, with 69% indicating that it became noticeable within the last two years. Despite its recent emergence, a significant 83% of employers have reported experiencing job ghosting.
Stages of Job GhostingJob seekers may engage in ghosting at various stages of the hiring process, including skipping scheduled job interviews (50%) and failing to respond to emails and calls from potential employers (46%).
Interview and First-Day No-ShowsA substantial majority of employers (84%) have encountered instances where candidates failed to show up for scheduled interviews. Additionally, 65% of employers reported experiencing no-shows on an employee's first day of work

What is Ghosting and How Can Small Tech Companies Avoid It?

How Can Small Tech Companies Avoid Ghosting?

The key to any challenge in business is to be more strategic and flexible. If you can’t match the dollar by dollar bid of the competition perhaps a little ingenuity can help.

Building your talent pool can help. This means getting to know the talent landscape and candidates regardless of whether or not they are looking to make a career change immediately. This helps your business proactively look to who you should hire rather than recruit to fill an empty position.

You can look towards past candidates, former employees or even your interns to build your talent community. Reach out to potential candidates through social media and networking events to get the discussion going.

Another possible solution is to communicate effectively. Ghosting for all intents and purposes is a communications barrier. Maintaining a healthy channel of communication with your employees can go a long way towards improving the workplace.

For instance, 26% of who ghosted say they simply weren’t comfortable telling the employer they had a change of heart. While 13% cite general communication problems with the recruiter and 11% just didn’t know what to do, so they bailed.

For new employees, introducing them personally to their coworkers and providing a point of contact for any questions can help.

Continuous feedback on performance with support to improve skills shows the employee is not invisible to the business. As time progresses having conversations on career development and prospects too can help.

What is Ghosting and How Can Small Tech Companies Avoid It?

Strategies for Small Tech Companies to Minimize Ghosting

Develop a Strong Employer Brand

Create a compelling employer value proposition that resonates with potential candidates. Showcase your company culture, career development opportunities, and employee testimonials on social media and your careers page. A strong employer brand can make candidates think twice before ghosting.

Enhance the Candidate Experience

Ensure the recruitment process is transparent, communicative, and respectful. Regular updates, clear timelines, and feedback can build a positive relationship with candidates, reducing the likelihood of them disappearing without notice.

Implement Quick and Efficient Hiring Processes

In a candidate-driven market, speed is crucial. Streamline your hiring process to make decisions quickly and efficiently. Delays can lead to candidates losing interest or accepting other offers, which increases the risk of ghosting.

Foster Open Communication

Encourage an open dialogue with candidates and employees about their expectations, concerns, and career goals. Providing a safe space for honest communication can reduce misunderstandings and preempt potential ghosting.

Offer Competitive Compensation and Benefits

Regularly review and adjust your compensation and benefits package to ensure it’s competitive within your industry. While not all small tech companies can match the salaries of giants, offering unique benefits, flexible work arrangements, or equity can be attractive.

Build Relationships with Passive Candidates

Not every interaction with a candidate needs to end in a hire. Building long-term relationships with passive candidates can create a pool of interested individuals who are less likely to ghost you because of the established rapport.

Use Technology to Your Advantage

Leverage recruitment technologies like applicant tracking systems (ATS) and CRM platforms to maintain engagement with candidates through automated yet personalized communications. This can help keep your company top of mind for candidates.

Conduct Exit Interviews and Seek Feedback

Understanding why employees leave or why candidates ghost can provide valuable insights. Use exit interviews and post-process feedback surveys to gather data and improve your practices.

Why is this Behavior Prevalent?

Unemployment is at 3.5% marking a 50-year low since 1969. This is responsible for more job openings being available than there are people to fill them. A strong job market has shifted the balance of power to employees as they now enjoy more power and influence.  As a consequence, U.S. businesses are losing $1 trillion every year due to voluntary employee turnover.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), 40 million Americans quit their jobs in 2018 — representing 26.9% of the workforce.

This high turnover has dire consequences for small businesses. Meaning they have to increase salaries, benefits and other incentives to bring in qualified applicants. This coupled with job ghosting, businesses will see more cost cycles in terms of running vacancy ads, training and losses from productivity.

Companies not only lose money in trying to fill a position but also time. Weeks or months could go by without a particular position being filled. The pain is especially felt if the positions to be filled require specialized roles such as in technology.

Employees today have more options for employment and can move quickly from one job to the next. They could ignore employment offers they choose not to accept or accept multiple offers at once with little perceived negative consequences.

Some 40% of candidates ghosted after receiving another offer while others reported unattractive salary (22%) or benefits (15%) as reasons.

Why is Job Ghosting Prevalent?Description
Low Unemployment RateThe current unemployment rate stands at a historic low of 3.5%, the lowest in 50 years (since 1969). This low rate means that there are more job openings available than there are individuals seeking employment.
Shift in Power to EmployeesThe strong job market has shifted the balance of power in favor of employees. With a surplus of job opportunities, employees now have greater influence and choice when it comes to employment options.
Cost of Voluntary Employee TurnoverU.S. businesses face significant financial losses due to voluntary employee turnover, estimated at approximately $1 trillion annually. High employee turnover rates contribute to increased recruitment and training costs, as well as productivity losses. Small businesses, in particular, are affected by these challenges.
High Turnover Rate in the WorkforceThe Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that in 2018, approximately 40 million Americans, representing 26.9% of the workforce, voluntarily left their jobs. This high turnover rate has far-reaching consequences for businesses.
Increased Recruitment CostsTo attract qualified applicants in a competitive job market, businesses often find themselves compelled to raise salaries, improve benefit packages, and offer other incentives. These increased recruitment costs add to the financial burden faced by employers.
Time-Consuming Hiring ProcessThe process of finding and hiring the right candidate can be time-consuming, especially for specialized roles such as those in technology. Weeks or months may pass without successfully filling a position, further impacting productivity and operational efficiency.
Employees' Multiple Employment OptionsEmployees have more employment options than ever before and can swiftly transition from one job to another. This flexibility allows them to ignore offers they do not wish to accept or accept multiple offers simultaneously with little perceived negative consequences.
Reasons for Job GhostingJob candidates ghost for various reasons, with approximately 40% doing so after receiving another job offer. Other reported reasons include unattractive salary (22%) and benefits (15%). The abundance of opportunities gives candidates the confidence to make such choices without significant repercussions.

What is Ghosting and How Can Small Tech Companies Avoid It?


The consequences of not following the traditional workplace advice seem to be waning as well. Sage advice such as give two weeks’ notice; never burn your bridges; don’t speak badly of your former employer seem to be on their way out.

This is because there seems to be little consequence for employees who drop everything and go. Incredibly, 94% of job seekers experience little to no negative consequences from ghosting.

For employees, job ghosting can have bad implications down the line. Employees might ask for recommendations from previous employers. Worse still, the employee might run into his former employer in a joint project- thus making for an awkward collaboration.

Strong candidates might get multiple offers and use it to bargain for better salaries or benefits. While others opt to leave would-be employers dangling with no response. If your business is a lesser company than a reputed global brand you might be at risk of being ghosted.

On the flip side ghosting also takes place among recruiters. They might get piles of applications from job seekers, especially online when they submit résumés electronically.

Many recruiters will opt to not acknowledge receipt of the application or respond to express interest or disinterest in the candidate. Employers might say they are overwhelmed but for candidates, it’s not good.

This points to what some refer to ghosting as a learned behavior. In the past, while employers had the upper hand they would ghost applicants all the time and can fire workers without two weeks’ notice. A check and balance in the recruiting process can go a long way towards a bring us back to the wise old ways.

What is Ghosting and How Can Small Tech Companies Avoid It?

Ghosting and Small Business: Conclusion

In a booming economy with low unemployment rates, the phenomenon of “ghosting” in the workplace has emerged as a significant challenge for businesses.

Ghosting, characterized by the sudden cessation of communication without explanation, has become more prevalent, affecting both job candidates and employees.

This trend has been exacerbated by the job market’s shifting power dynamics, with employees having more options and employers facing increased voluntary turnover.

The consequences of ghosting are far-reaching, leading to financial losses, increased recruitment costs, and productivity disruptions for businesses, particularly small ones. The traditional workplace norms, such as giving notice or maintaining professional relationships, appear to be waning in importance.

However, businesses can adapt to this ghosting era by implementing strategic approaches. Building a robust talent pool, proactively engaging with potential candidates, and maintaining transparent communication channels are crucial strategies to combat ghosting.

By focusing on effective communication, continuous feedback, and career development opportunities, businesses can create an environment where employees feel valued and are less likely to ghost.

While it remains uncertain whether ghosting is a temporary trend or a lasting change, the responsibility falls on employers to adapt and reduce the likelihood of candidates and employees ghosting.

The success of businesses in this evolving landscape hinges on their ability to manage and cultivate professional networks effectively, even in the face of this modern workplace challenge.

The Future of Ghosting

No one can tell if ghosting is a temporary trend or it is here to stay? However, as the change in the employer-employee situation changes so should businesses.

It may be difficult to pinpoint why candidates or employees will ghost. The onus is now on employers to better position themselves to reduce the likelihood of candidates and employees ghosting them.

Much of the success of your business boils down to how you manage and develop your professional networks, ghosts included.

Image: Depositphotos.com

Samson Haileyesus Samson Haileyesus is a staff writer for Small Business Trends and has been a member of the team for 5 years. He has several years of progressive experience in media, communication and PR working with government, NGOs and private sector.