We have all heard of ghosting.  A modern term that until recently was confined to the world of online dating and social media.  But in the past two years the term has become synonymous with recruitment.  Ask any recruiter and most will tell you they have been ghosted, and very likely more than once.

Ghosting – A Modern Day Recruitment Nightmare!

The term ghosting means when someone we have been in contact with abruptly cuts us off without warning or explanation.  Even when we reach out to them, we are just met with silence.  Nothing.

It happens to the best of us. Once, I offered a great candidate a job and she accepted.  I sent the contract and offer letter out straight away. After a few days, I hadn’t heard back from her. Then I sent a follow-up email, and the next day a call and a text.  I didn’t want to believe she had ghosted me (she had seemed so keen).  I even checked out the local news websites where she lived in case she had been in an accident and was stuck in hospital, without her phone.  That’s how much I had given her the benefit of the doubt and truly believed it couldn’t be true.  Surely I hadn’t been ghosted?  But I had.


Why do people ghost?

I know many people who have been ghosted, but not a lot of ghosters.  But there must be loads of us out there who do it?  Who are they?

The fact of the matter is job seekers will speak to many recruiters, so perhaps they don’t have time to message everyone back?  Maybe they don’t think they need to?

Not everyone is as caring and as thoughtful as you.  Some candidates have a truly rough ride of things and have been ghosted themselves by employers. So perhaps they think it is just the way things are done?

My suspicion is that many people don’t like saying no.  No one likes delivering bad news.  Perhaps just not replying to someone is an easier way to avoid an uncomfortable situation?

But for those of who are being ghosted, we are shaking our fists saying “Just bloody text me!” “Thanks but no thanks.'”


What can you do about it?

Let’s be honest, no one likes rejection. MRI studies show that the same areas of the brain become activated when we experience rejection as when we experience physical pain. It leads to a feeling of helplessness and loss of control. When we don’t understand the reason for someone’s behaviour towards us, it is really easy to fall into the trap of thinking: “Is it me?”


How can we avoid this pain in the modern-day world of recruitment?  

  • Firstly, don’t be tempted to become a private investigator or a stalker.  You’re desperate to understand WHY but you will likely never know, so realise it and accept it. Send a follow-up email, or text, but then leave it.  It’s often helpful to give them a deadline so that a job offer isn’t being left up in the air. That also gives you back an element of control that was lost in the ghosting.


  • Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.  You’ve found that amazing candidate that you know will be perfect for your agency.  But you had a second choice, or even a third.  Keep them warm, don’t regret them too quickly.  Try and have more than one person to choose from.  Trust me, you won’t be the only egg in THEIR basket.


  • Up your game.  Candidate experience is everything.  Do you take the time in interviews to find out about their goals and aspirations?  Do you make it clear to them how working with you will help them achieve them?  Be quick.  Make the recruitment process quick and easy, don’t waste time.  Make sure you have put the candidate first.  They have to form an emotional connection with you which will mean they WANT to work for you so much that they will stay in touch.


  • Mindset is everything.  Understand that how the ghoster is treating you says more about them than it does about you. Be blooming annoyed for the rest of the day, but then accept it and move on.  The ghoster definitely has!


  • Practice self-care.  It’s really easy to have a wobble and think you must be a terrible person. So do something that reassures you that you are not. Spend time with your amazing team, make a list of all the great things about your agency.  Have a cup of tea, go for a walk, and be kind to yourself.

If you would like to chat to someone about your agency’s recruitment process, get in touch with our resident HR expert, Sarah May at sarah@theagencycollective.co.uk

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HR and wellbeing

Sarah May, Head of People and Wellbeing, The Agency Collective

Sarah is the resident HR expert at The Agency Collective. If you are a member, you get Sarah included in your membership and she is on hand to help agency founders with their everyday HR challenges.

When not talking about all things employment law and HR, shes enjoy inspiring others to help young people into the world of work (that means lots of work with schools), mentoring and changing a little corner of the world.

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