Three-quarters of jobseekers admit to ghosting an employer, survey finds

Majority of candidates say they have cut communication without warning, but most remain worried about the impact of their actions on their career

More than three-quarters of jobseekers have ghosted an employer in the last year and a half, a poll has found, despite being concerned about the impact it could have on their career.

A survey of 1,000 UK employees, all of whom had been job hunting in the last 18 months, found that 76 per cent had ghosted a current or prospective employer – meaning they stopped all communication without any warning or explanation.

However, the research, conducted by Viser, found that despite its prevalence, employees had mixed feelings about the practice of ghosting.

More than two-thirds (68 per cent) reported that they were concerned about the impact that ghosting could have on their career; however three in five (61 per cent) still said they would be comfortable ghosting a current or prospective employer.

The poll also found the majority of employees (56 per cent) had themselves been ghosted by an employer in the last 18 months, with 34 per cent of respondents claiming that being ghosted by an employer would make them angrier than being stood up by a date.

Claire McCartney, senior resourcing and inclusion adviser at the CIPD, said to keep candidates engaged during recruitment, employers need to demonstrate they are following a fair and inclusive process.

Get more HR and employment law news like this delivered straight to your inbox every day – sign up to People Management’s PM Daily newsletter

“Employers should not wait to start the onboarding process on a new starter’s first day. Instead, they should be providing information about the role and wider organisation beforehand” she added. “Their new line manager should be in touch on an informal basis and make it clear they are happy to answer any questions."

The report found that the most common reason cited for employee ghosting was a negative first impression of the employer, with a quarter (25 per cent) reporting that this had led them to ghost a potential or current employer in the last 18 months.

A similar proportion (24 per cent) said that the main reason they had ghosted was because of an inaccurate job description, while the same percentage said that a lower salary than advertised had prompted them to cut off communication.

Receiving a more attractive job offer (22 per cent); a company’s bad reputation (19 per cent); and concerns about company culture (20 per cent) were also common reasons.

The research found that the pandemic had made some candidates more likely to ghost. Nearly half (46 per cent) of jobseekers said hybrid working had made more job opportunities available to them, making them likely to ghost an employer. Additionally, 45 per cent of respondents said that a less personal recruitment process had prompted them to ghost a prospective employer.

Jill Cotton, career trends expert at Glassdoor, said that the pandemic had led to a “spike” in mentions of ghosting on the Glassdoor website. But, she said, despite the recent upheaval in the jobs market, company culture and values were still what mattered most to employees.

“Although the market is tilted in the favour of the jobseeker, employees on the lookout for a new role still need to take the time to research both the position and the company before applying,” she said.

Cotton added her advice to jobseekers: “If an employer's vision and employee experience don't match your expectations, don't waste your time or that of the company by applying for a role.”

The report also found that ghosting was not just happening in lower and mid-level jobs. Almost all C-suite executives polled (95 per cent) admitted to having ghosted a current or potential employer in the last 18 months, compared to half (48 per cent) of entry-level employees.

The survey, which was conducted in December 2021, also found that the majority of mid-level and first-level managers had ghosted in the 18 months (84 per cent and 67 per cent respectively).

Additionally, frontline workers were more likely than desk workers to admit to ghosting (79 per cent and 71 per cent respectively).