Job search can get frustrating for many reasons. Good opportunities are scarce. Resume writing and customization can take a lot of time. Plus interviewing can be absolutely nerve-wracking. And it’s not even over once you’ve jumped through those hoops. After a perfectly great job interview, you never hear back from the recruiting. That’s employers ghosting in its finest — a disheartening experience most of us have faced at least once during our job search.
What is Ghosting at Work?
“Ghosting” is a popular term used to describe those mind-wrecking situations when someone suddenly ceases all communications with you (without any good reasons for that). Your calls, emails, voice mails, and any other types of messages are suddenly left unanswered.
The “ghosting” issue is pervasive in dating and personal relationships. But more lately it crept into our professional lives too.
A 2021 survey published by Indeed found that over 77% of employers ghosted a job candidate at least once over the past year (!!!). What’s even more maddening is that 10% of job seekers said that a recruiter ghosted them after making a verbal job offer. That’s definitely not a good employment practice!
The survey respondents also mentioned that the number of ghosting employers increased significantly amidst the worst of the pandemic. The majority believes that they are now being ghosted more frequently than ever.
What Are The Reasons Behind Employers Ghosting Applicants
While there’s no excuse for employers’ ghosting behaviors, there are at least some explanations as to why you may not be getting those callbacks:
- The current job market realities: The global pandemic caused seismic disruptions on the job markets. Nearly 4 million people stayed unemployed for 27 weeks or more. Respectively, companies have no shortage of job applicants, especially for competitive positions. A recent ICIMS survey among US employers notes that at the end of 2020 job applications increased by 13%, compared to the same period in 2019, while job openings went down by 3% and hiring reduced by 10%. Due to the surge of applications, some employers admit to not being able to process them effectively and fail to get back to prospects promptly (or at all).
- Increased competition due to remote work: The rise of remote work is a blessing in disguise. On one hand, you can more easily find a job in another city or state (without the need to relocate). At the same time, so do other folks. The same survey notes that out-of-state job applications increased by 34%. Again, this makes the recruiting departments as busy as ever. Inevitably, some communication falls through the cracks, especially if there are different time zones involved.
- Applicant tracking software. ATS is hardly new, but it got more popular over the last few years as companies digitize their HR departments. Per Capterra, 75% of recruiters use some sort of software for processing job applications. Respectively, if your resume isn’t optimized to glide through the software, it may never actually land in front of a human employee. Hence, no reply whatsoever.
- Ignoring instructions. In a similar vein, your resume and cover letter may be auto-discarded if you failed to follow a simple, yet mandatory step in the recruiting process e.g. use a specific email title for submission or use the correct document format. If you didn’t bother to follow the instructions, some employers may not bother answering you.
Finally, let’s not discard the simple fact that some employers are disorganized. Their HR processes may not be up-to-speed. Or they’d been struggling to get settled into remote operations. Some businesses were also forced to put their recruiting on hold due to the pandemic and failed to communicate that to any applicants in their pipeline.
Again, neither of the above is an excuse for a recruiter who said they would call but didn’t! It’s a sad fact you may need to accept.
Yet, there are certain steps you can take to increase your chances of getting a callback.
How to Reduce The Chances of Job Ghosting
Your interview went well. Your hopes are high. And then it’s crickets — the employer never gets back to you. That can create some issues for you too. For example, you might turn down another job offer or cancel a series of other interviews.
To prevent such scenarios, don’t keep a grudge on an unresponsive employer. Instead, take proactive steps to rectify the issue. Let’s take a closer look at how to handle these tricky employer ghosting situations.
Close the Interview with a Question
When you have had a positive job interview, don’t rush out of the door. Instead, take a minute to pose one last question.
Ask your interviewer if they have any doubts or worries about putting you through to the next stage of the process.
By doing this, you will have one last chance to resolve any concerns the interviewer may have. Remember: it’s much harder to change the person’s opinion after you leave the room. So make that move!
A good recruiter will be pretty forthcoming about any concerns in regards to your:
- Cultural fit
- Gaps in employment
- Or answers you gave to some interview questions
Such a conversation at the end of the interview can help reduce the chances of getting ghosted after the interview.
This guide further details how to close a job interview on a positive note.
Confirm The Next Steps
Apart from addressing the recruiter’s concerns, you should also clarify what are the next hiring steps in the company’s process.
Ask for a quick walkthrough of their decision-making process. What is their standard timeline for answering? Should you expect a second interview or prepare for another type of meeting? Who’s the next person to contact?
Your goal is to get a better idea of how the hiring process moves and find out if there’s any way to help keep things moving forward.
Also, having such a conversation could provide you with a hint of any budgetary or timeline concerns the organization may be having. So that you could plan your job search accordingly.
Follow Up Your Interview
You should never leave a wall of silence between you and the company after your interview.
There are several important steps you need to take after the job interview:
- Send a follow-up email after the interview
- Analyze your performance
- Assess your feelings about the opportunity
- Connect with the recruiter on LinkedIn
The first step is particularly important! Don’t underestimate the power of a quick thank-you email after the interview. A quick note plants a positive afterthought in the interviewers’ minds. Doing so will also help them to remember you better when they are deciding who to ask to come back in for a second interview.
Plus, it’s much harder to ghost someone who actually took the time to make such a quick, but thoughtful gesture!
Get Back In Contact
You’ve sent the thank-you email (or not). And then heard nothing. Time to get more proactive and schedule a follow-up email if you feel that the job opportunity is worth it!
You may not have yet received any communication because:
- The interview process is taking longer than expected
- The interviewer has fallen ill and has taken time off sick
- Or because they have a long list of people waiting to get a reply
Don’t be afraid to call or email. It is a very reasonable thing to do in the workplace, especially when applying for a job and you have been offered work with someone else in the meantime. A simple call to the company may get you your yes or no answer in a couple of minutes, then you are free to move on knowing the outcome.
Being interviewed and then not hearing back can be so frustrating! But don’t let those feelings get to you. Be proactive with your follow-ups, but know when it’s time to throw the towel. If the employer ghosts you after two emails (or calls/messages), move on! There’s plenty of better job opportunities out there, including the so-called “hidden job market”.