A hot job market where unemployment dropped to about 3.8% in May, close to an 18-year low, means there are more jobs than people looking for work for only the second month in the last 20 years, USA Today reports, citing U.S. Labor Department data.
There is no formal tracking of ghosting job prospects, but many employers say that anywhere from 20% to 50% of applicants and workers suddenly disappear after going through the entire vetting process and landing the job. Getting burned in this manner has forced human resources departments to reevaluate their hiring practices.
"You're seeing job candidates with more options," says Dawn Fay. She is the district president of staffing firm, Robert Half, for the New York City area. "It's definitely influencing their behavior."
Ghosting has always been more commonplace in lower-paying professions, including in construction, manufacturing and truck driving, says Alex Riley, president of Detroit-based staffing firm, Merit Hall. But now he is hearing that up to 20% of white-collar workers in those professions are turning into ghosts.
Fay notes that some employers, who in the recent past have had the luxury of a wide pool of hungry candidates, and who often blew them off by never following up, are now getting blown off.
Many firms never got back to job candidates who interviewed during the Great Recession from 2007 to 2009 when unemployment soared to 10%. "Candidates were very frustrated because they felt employers were ghosting on them," Fay says.
At El Dorado Hills, CA-based Carports & More, almost half of the 65 recruits who were set for interviews never showed up last month. That compares with about 10% who typically blow off interviews, says owner Jacob Azavedo. His 27-staff firm contracts out the building of garages, storage sheds, canopies and other structures.
"It can be very stressful," Azavedo says. "We're shorthanded. We're missing more calls" and sales.
The rise in ghosting has led Minneapolis-based JFuerst Real Estate Photography to change up their interview strategy. Instead of one-on-one interviews, CEO Johnny Fuerst says they invite up to 30 recruits to the initial interview.
"I was trying to mitigate my wasted time," Fuerst says. If half of the 30 don't show up, it won't matter, and having this many recruits interviewing all at the same time increases the competitive nature of the candidates and the value of the job, he adds.
Kent Gregoire, president at VoiceNation, requires that the newly hired candidates begin work three day after getting the offer instead of two weeks. "If you don't bring them in immediately, they're still an open agent," he says.
The rise in ghosting is a real test for recruiters, LinkedIn reports. "If you don't love your job [as a recruiter], you'll beat your head on your desk," says John Widgren, a recruiter for Orlando, FL-based Central Florida Health.
Amanda Bradford, CEO of The League, a dating app, has had engineering recruits ghost her firm. For a younger generation of job seekers, the term has "almost become a new vocabulary," she notes.
Where ghosting is most commonly tied to dating, "that same behavior is happening in the job market," Bradford says. Robert Half's Fay tells LinkedIn that ghosting does not always mean the recruits are intentionally trying to make life difficult for employers.
"Candidates are winding up with multiple offers, and you can't accept them all," Fay says. "Individuals just inherently don't like conflict or disappointing people."
Gene Marks says smaller employers such as himself are partially responsible for the ghosting trend. Marks, who's Marks Group PC focuses on technology and financial management services to small- and mid-sized businesses, writes for The Guardian that employers need to shoulder some blame.
"So when I hear that small business owners are struggling to find good people, I know why," Marks writes. "The fact is that employers, particularly smaller employers like me, just aren't paying enough. Maybe we should accept lower profits in the short-term to invest in people that will help us build a more profitable business for the longer-term."