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You might’ve heard of the term ‘ghosting’ before. Many use this word to describe a sudden lack of communication with no explanation. This is usually within dating contexts, where the person doing the “ghosting” is the one who does not want to see the other again. But nowadays, ghosting is starting to appear in workplace contexts, as well. In fact, recruiter ghosting has become so common that many are recognizing the impacts on job seekers everywhere.

In fact, if you’ve applied for countless jobs with no word back from a hiring professional, you too might’ve been ghosted! So, how can you determine if a job posting is legitimate or if it will lead you on only to ghost you later? Let’s take a deep dive into workplace ghosting and find out!

What Is Workplace Ghosting?

Despite the term only being picked up recently by LinkedIn News, workplace ghosting has been common for some time, now. In some cases, candidates or new employees have ghosted their employers. Sometimes, candidates receive a job offer but never reply to the offer and disappear forever. Other times, candidates just never come in for their first day. Some employers have even reported workers of several months or even years simply leaving and never coming back to work again.

In other cases, however, ghosting can happen to job seekers. Many times, hiring managers or recruiters will even make candidates an unofficial job offer. But then, the managers/recruiters, as the term suggests, disappear entirely, leaving the candidate stranded. But these days, the most common occurrences of ghosting happens right after a candidate applies for a job posting.

This is because, as authors Rebecca Knight and Juliana Kaplan note, the jobs being posted aren’t real. They’re “ghost jobs.”

Why Do Recruiters Ghost Candidates?

When candidates never hear back from a job, Knight and Kaplan explain, often it’s because they’ve applied to a job for which a company never actually intended to hire. In these cases, the job postings are not meant to onboard a candidate, but rather to measure the market. As well, Knight and Kaplan note that some companies keep these “evergreen postings” online to appear as though they are growing as an organization more than they actually may be.

In an article for Forbes, Robin Ryan also notes that ghosting can result from a position for which the company did hire but never took down. And this, according to Ryan, is a direct product of the COVID-19 pandemic. Before COVID, that is, employees and candidates were more likely to be the ones ghosting. Now, many recruiters and employers are having to ghost well-suited and qualified candidates. This is most commonly because of a lack of funding that may have suddenly halted hiring company-wide.

“Because of the coronavirus, many jobs might still be on job search sites that companies have paused and are currently not actively hiring for.” – Robin Ryan

It’s also common practice for companies to have job postings online to build recognizability. That is, many organizations keep their job postings up or even post some online simply to keep candidates in close contact.

How to Avoid Applying to a Ghost Job Posting

While many instances of ghosting will remain out of our hands, it’s important for workers to recognize these practices before losing time and energy to a posting that will go nowhere.

According to Ryan, one of the best ways to avoid applying for a non-existent job is to check its posting date. On LinkedIn, you can even filter jobs based on their date posted. And of course, the sooner the date posted, the more likely the organization is to still be hiring for that position.

If a job posting is over 3 weeks old, however, Ryan suggests double checking the organization’s website to see if the posting is still live there. More often than not, companies will update their own websites before managing external postings. Still, this is not always a sure-fire way to ensure the posting is real and up-to-date.

Our best bet? Reach out and ask! If you have any mutual connections on LinkedIn or friends who you can reach out to at the company, ask if this position is still up for grabs. This way, you can be sure your efforts won’t go to waste. As well, doing so can demonstrate you’re interested in the position and are less likely to ghost the organization, as well.

How to Avoid Being Ghosted

After you apply for a job, feel free to shoot an email two to three weeks afterwards to follow-up. That way, the team will know you’re serious about your application, are thinking of the company, and are eager to work with them. As well, it’ll clarify where you may stand in this application process and not leave you unprepared if they reach out after some time.

Similarly, if a recruiter reaches out to you, don’t let them ghost you! Unlike in dating circumstances, recruiters and job seekers do not have an equal relationship. It’s their responsibility to communicate with you if they found you’re not quite what they’re looking for. A clear path of communication is the very least you can (and should!) ask for.

As for your next steps? Make your applications truly pop with a Digital Work Passport and Packfinder soft skills assessment. You can sign up with your very own Workwolf account and take Packfinder for free by clicking the link here.


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