The Ghosting Guide: An Inside Look at Why Job Seekers Disappear

A truly scary trend has emerged in the last year: employers are getting ghosted by job seekers. From ditching job interviews to not showing up on the first day, candidates are disappearing without a trace — and ghosting during the hiring process is now one of the biggest problems in recruiting. Ghosting originated in the online dating world, where new technology has made it so easy to ask someone out on a date that it has led to an epidemic of no-shows. The effect is similar for hiring: technology and a super-tight labor market appear to have led job seekers to ghosting. It’s easier than ever to apply for a job and then — for whatever reason — vanish without a trace.  

But what are those reasons? Indeed wanted to look behind the headlines and cliches to understand just why people ghost and why it is happening now — as well as how it impacts hiring. So we surveyed over 4,000 job seekers and nearly 900 employers across multiple industries to gauge ghosting’s prevalence. We then zeroed in on those respondents who had either ghosted or been on the receiving end, giving us a detailed look at ghosting on the ground. We now see, for instance, that ghosting is extremely new yet already impacting the majority of employers. And despite the growing buzz about ghosting, only a tiny number of job seekers who’ve done it have faced any negative consequences. We’ll share more of our findings in a series of three posts for Ghosting Week (August 26 through 31). 

Today, we’ll look at the numbers to see if ghosting is on the rise, who’s doing it and when it might strike. In our Wednesday feature, job seekers will talk about why they ghost. We’ll close it out on Friday with targeted strategies to help recruiters and hiring managers prevent ghosting from happening. If you’re tired of getting ghosted — or worried you might be next — read our inside look at the hiring problem everyone’s talking about. 

Ghosting is new, but 83% of employers have already experienced it

Our report seeks to answer some of the biggest questions about ghosting. First off, is ghosting really new, or has it been happening all along?

Employers who’ve been ghosted overwhelmingly report that it’s a recent phenomenon, and 69% say it started in the last two years. What’s more, a whopping 83% of employers report being ghosted.

Does this mean we’re in the midst of a ghosting epidemic? The answer is more complex than it seems. Yes, ghosting is widespread. But is everybody doing it? No. Among our sample of over 4,000 job seekers, only 18% say they have ghosted an employer at some point during the hiring process. But with nearly a fifth of job seekers admitting to doing it, the actions of this sizeable minority are having a major impact on over four fifths of employers.

Once we identified the 18% of job seekers who have ghosted and the 83% of employers who have experienced it, we dug deeper into the ins and outs of ghosting with these groups. The rest of the data in this report will refer only to these respondents.


Job seekers ghost at different stages in the hiring…

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