scorecardAs ‘ghosting’ haunts employers, wounded HR representatives take to Linkedin to call candidates out. Experts call it unethical
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As ‘ghosting’ haunts employers, wounded HR representatives take to Linkedin to call candidates out. Experts call it unethical

As ‘ghosting’ haunts employers, wounded HR representatives take to Linkedin to call candidates out. Experts call it unethical
Careers7 min read
  • In the last few months, stories of job candidates ghosting their potential employers before the joining date are growing on the internet.
  • Now, employers are taking to public platforms like Linkedin and Twitter to call out these runaway candidates who disappear without a word.
  • We speak to recruiting and staffing platforms to find out the reason behind this increased rate of dropouts before the joining date and how employers can move on after being ghosted.
You meet them for a cup of coffee. You can guess that things are going well from the way they talk about their dreams and life goals. You start picturing your future together, hoping they would accept your offer. Just then, they respond to your email, “Thanks for extending the offer, I am delighted to accept it. I’ll put in my resignation letter today and I look forward to working with you in two months.”

However, two months later, they stop replying, block you on social media platforms and just disappear before the joining date without saying a word. Sorry to break it to you, but dear employer, you are being ‘ghosted’ by your job candidate.

Originally coined in the world of online dating, ghosting occurs when someone disappears from a relationship without warning. In the workplace, ghosting refers to one party vanishing from the interview process without a trace.

This phenomenon of ghosting is creating new headaches for employers in a tight labour market marked by the great resignation.

Employers are still searching for their long-lost virtual ghosts

After the pandemic, the hiring process has moved online and there’s no human interaction with the prospective employers, making it easier for candidates to vanish and become untraceable.

Before the pandemic, the acceptance rate after the offer was rolled out used to be about 80%, which has dropped in general to 60% acceptance now, says Anshuman Das, chief executive officer (CEO) and cofounder of talent solutions provider Careernet. “Also, pre-pandemic the ratio of accepted to joining was almost about 80% and now it has dropped to 55-60% in India.”

Another poll by recruitment platform Naukri revealed that when it comes to having multiple job offers, 56% job seekers believe it’s okay to reject their current offer if there is a better offer on the table.

Sharing why ghosting is becoming more common now, Sharmeen Khalid, chief human resources officer,, says, “There is a pent up demand post-Covid due to which there is an increase in the number of opportunities available for job seekers as the job market continues to show strong signs of recovery. Due to these trends, getting a job offer sitting from the comforts of home, within a very short period has become a realisable possibility. This has led to many job seekers getting multiple job offers, which is leading to offer refusals, employees absconding, ghosting etc.”

Is it ethical to call out runaway employees publicly?

It is also before the appraisal process that many candidates start looking for better opportunities and reshuffling in organisations begins. There has been a 15% rise in employees looking out for a job change during this appraisal season, finds data from Spectrum Talent Management.

There’s also a clear upward trend in talent demand. As per Naukri’s JobSpeak Index, there have been steady signs in hiring activity over the last two quarters with 16% year-on-year growth in March 2022.

With this increase in demand, candidates now have an upper hand to reclaim a measure of power in a situation that has favoured employers for decades.

While the practice of ghosting itself is not new to corporations, it does appear to be more widespread than ever before as job openings outpace job seekers after a long lull, turning the tables around.

As a result, hiring and retention have become great challenges for employers across different onboarding stages. These frustrated employers and their HR representatives are using social media platforms to call out runaway candidates with the hashtags #hiringwoes and #ghosting.

Staffing and business services Quess Corp’s chief human resources officer Ruchi Ahluwalia says that calling out candidates on a public platform such as LinkedIn may not be ethical as its breach of confidentiality between a candidate and organisation.

Instead, she suggests, “Calling out in public forums will not give the right message about the organisation. Candidates can be marked out in the internal organisation database, so in future there are possibly no opportunities for them with that organisation.”

HR business partner at talent consulting firm Never Grow Up Manali Parekh says this trend of using the internet to publicly name runaway candidates puts the company in a bad light.

“Calling a candidate out publicly feels a little extreme. On a human level, we need to ask ourselves if there could be another reason apart from monetary benefits that a candidate has ghosted a potential employer, look at multiple factors including their health, location, sudden change in social circumstances and mental health, which could play a role in why a hiring manager has been left in the dark. Tightening one’s hiring process, maintaining a database of candidates who have ghosted you in the past and committing to a ‘no-ghosting’ policy within the company will benefit your business in the long run.”

If an employer calls out a candidate on a public platform, they should also be prepared for it to backfire.

“If a company calls out a candidate saying you backed out of a contract, some candidates will start sharing their unethical practices, too. All these conversations should not be brought on social media,” says Das of Careernet.

Reasons why employers are ghosted and how can they avoid it

As per Google trends, the query ‘how to shop for jobs’ saw its peak between March 27 and April 02, 2022 in India. On a scale of 0 to 100, this query scored 67 between this period.

While the allure of a better pay package, attractive benefits, comprehensive healthcare and flexible work hours could all be possible factors for why candidates ghost companies, experts told Business Insider India that it is not just compensation.

Highlighting that this is a trend among younger groups who are known to be more vocal, Sekhar Garisa, CEO of recruitment and job search firm Monster India says, “Demand-supply gap leads to competing offers and typically candidates negotiate based on the current offer and so end up getting better offers than the first one. Secondly, lack of post-offer engagement leads to candidates not establishing a connection with the prospective organisation. Third, feedback from former and current employees, which may not be positive and increased retention efforts from their current organisation to hold employees back post-resignation. Also, young candidates often reject a company citing work culture not being as per their liking.”

According to Google trends, the query ‘How to say no to your boss’ saw its peak this week in India. Saying no to your boss or potential employer is a difficult thing, especially if you’re in the early stages of your career or if you’re passionate about your job.

Ahluwalia believes that this hesitance is also one of the reasons why candidates find it easier to leave without saying goodbye.

“In some cultures especially in India, direct refusals, such as saying the word “no”, might be interpreted as rude and impolite. Refusal often leads to disagreements or disputes, which one tries to avoid.”

Young internet users who have developed shopping cart syndrome, the mindset of putting items in the cart, also like to keep various job options some of which they don’t even need or are unsure of, says Ahluwalia, adding that this practice of job shopping adds to gratification and self-esteem.

To avoid being ghosted and embarrassing themselves by ranting about a candidate later on public platforms such as LinkedIn, companies need to have a very strong recruitment process including a compelling employer value proposition that differentiates them from others.

The disappointment of people picking up the offer and not joining in at the last moment, that percentage in the US, even in this hot market, is not more than 10%, says Das.

He points out that there is one major difference between these two markets. In India, the notice period is between 30-60 days. In the US, the notice period is just 15 days, leaving very little window for candidates to shop for job offers and plot their runaway plans.

Experts also said that companies should focus on having a healthy and robust pipeline of alternate candidates so they can manage such situations better.

Khalid of advises, “The candidate experience process needs to be transformed so that the candidate gets the confidence that he/she is getting a great opportunity. There should be transparency in the hiring process so that candidates trust the recruiters and share all details with respect to other offers, expectations, etc.”

The internet gives job seekers the power to call out an employer for following unethical practices and also to disappear if they are being treated poorly.

To avoid being ghosted, employers must build an inclusive and transparent environment where employees feel heard and fairly compensated.

“It is important to lead by example and display values such as inclusivity, transparency and trust across the organisation through your existing employees, the practices you follow, the policies you build and the social presence that you have. This will enable candidates to prioritise an organisation’s culture over the CTC [cost to company] that they’ve been offered,” says Parekh.

She adds, “And finally, do not ghost your candidates. After all, you know the saying - karma will eventually bite you back.”