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Companies ghosting IT candidates during recruitment: reasons, impact and tips for improvement

Updated: Apr 25, 2023

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Photo by NordWood Themes on Unsplash

Ghosting’ means disappearing without a trace or explanation either by the employer or the employee at any stage during the hiring process.

This term that originally comes from the dating world has become heartbreakingly common in recruiting – even in tight labor markets such as IT. Glassdoor found that mentions of ‘ghosting’ in interview reviews have increased by 208% since before the pandemic.

Job seekers are also guilty of ghosting – 84% of candidates have ghosted employers in the last 18 months. However, in this article, we’ll focus on employer ghosting – what causes it and why it should be avoided at all costs if your company wants to remain competitive and respectable.

Ultimately, we’ll share five tips to help stop ghosting in your organization or at least prevent it from becoming a widespread practice.

Who are the worst ghosters in IT recruitment?

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Photo by Andrea Piacquadio

During the hiring process, you may change your mind about who you want for a role.

You may choose to hire internally or decide to remove the position in question altogether.

You may have received too many applications and become overwhelmed with how long the hiring process takes.

We get it. These are all everyday situations in IT recruitment.

But none of them is an excuse for failing to inform the candidates who have already started the recruitment process with you. Even more so if they participated in interviews and completed assigned tasks as part of the interview process.

Despite ghosting being an unfair practice, it has become increasingly common in IT recruitment. But what kind of businesses are ghosting the most? We asked Marija Evita Taurina – Head of International Talent Acquisition at IT recruitment agency MateHR.

“Ghosting mostly happens in Small And Midsize Businesses (SMB) without dedicated HR departments and solid recruitment processes. If there are only one or two HR representatives, they are often swarmed, and there’s nobody to substitute them if they take a leave,” Marija Evita told us.

“Candidate ghosting is less common in large enterprises with several thousand employees because there are solid HR guidelines in place. Mega corporations have whole HR departments responsible for every step of HR – from salaries to onboarding and, of course, talent acquisition.”

While recruiters are also guilty of ghosting, professional IT recruitment companies try to avoid this practice at all costs. Recruiters are much more interested in maintaining a friendly relationship with the candidate, especially in competitive markets such as IT recruitment. If candidates go through IT recruitment agencies, they are more likely to be informed about every step of the hiring process.

“Recruiters often become advocates of the candidate, requesting updates and feedback on their behalf,” says Marija Evita.

Why companies ghost IT candidates

We can all agree that ghosting a candidate is impolite and unethical. So why is it so common in the world of IT recruitment? Now, let’s look at the main reasons companies ghost IT professionals.

Unclear responsibilities

Ghosting often happens when HR responsibilities aren’t clearly assigned. Hiring managers and executives may participate in the recruitment process because they are interested in picking the most suitable candidate. But when that’s done, nobody’s responsible for the less fun part – informing the unsuccessful candidates.

Lack of time

Another word for “lack of time” is having other priorities. However, informing candidates should be prioritized. Especially when considering the implications ghosting can have on your brand image and future recruitment success.

Mass hiring

Ghosting often happens when the candidate search is done on a massive level. For example, when companies branch out or start new, major projects. However, that’s not an excuse either because unsuccessful candidates can at least be informed via automated messages.

Low digital communication ethics

The pandemic-induced loss of in-person interviews may have facilitated ghosting by both companies and candidates. It’s easier to ignore someone you’ve only met online.

Chaotic corporate culture

Company culture permeates all other reasons that promote ghosting. If company values aren’t clear and the corporate culture is chaotic and spontaneous, ghosting will likely happen.

Human nature

Naturally, we feel uncomfortable with rejecting someone. It’s common to ghost a candidate simply to avoid the unpleasant feeling of saying “no.”

The business cost of ghosting

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Extending a job offer, or even an interview, and then disappearing without a word is unprofessional and impolite. For job seekers, the not-knowing can be incredibly frustrating, and it can shake their confidence as they move forward in their job search. Moreover, it can mess up their job prospects because they may refuse other offers while waiting for your answer.

If this doesn’t convince you, you should know that ghosting can also have severe consequences for your business. They may not be evident in the short term but are all the more painful in the long run. Let’s look at the harm ghosting can cause your company.

Damage to your reputation

Someone who has been ghosted once will never apply to that particular company again. Moreover, they will warn others against applying there – privately or on their social media.

Consider these statistics:

  • 72 percent report sharing their negative candidate experiences online on sites like Glassdoor and Indeed;

  • 55 percent report avoiding certain companies after reading negative online reviews.

“Besides LinkedIn and job posting sites, applicants look for feedback about their potential employers on different online tech communities and niche forums. Unlike public social media, in these closed circles, companies cannot influence what is talked about them,” says Marija Evita Taurina.

Losing your competitive edge and access to talent

Bad PR on social media and industry forums can result in a company finding it particularly challenging to attract talent – regardless of their salary or perks.

“As recruiters, we sometimes meet candidates who are open for job offers but refuse particular companies because of their reputation as unethical employers,” says Marija Evita.

Employee retention problems

Candidate recruitment challenges can lead to employee retention issues. If you are constantly understaffed and unable to execute projects on time, chances are your staff is overworked, unappreciated, unsatisfied – and more likely to leave.

Avoiding ghosting: best practices for companies in IT recruitment

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If you’ve done ghosting in the past, there’s no use beating yourself up about it now. What you can do is make sure such practice is condemned in your company from now on. We’ve prepared some tips to help your team achieve a zero-tolerance policy towards IT candidate ghosting.

1. Streamline the hiring process

Ghosting often happens when nobody’s responsible for contacting candidates with a negative decision. This can change quickly if you assign an employee responsible for each step of the selection and hiring process, including sending rejection emails.

Ensure your company has detailed recruitment, decision-making, and onboarding documentation in place, including the procedure for sending rejection emails.

2. Prioritize candidate updates

Ensure your team knows how important candidate updates and feedback emails (or calls) are to the company. Sometimes it’s enough to set up a meeting and notify everyone that ghosting is no longer an option – for the many reasons we’ve mentioned in this article.

3. Train your recruiters

Train your recruiters and hiring managers to follow best practices for communication and leave no place for ghosting. Ensure everyone is on the same page when it comes to treating candidates with respect and professionalism.

4. Use technology to automate communication

Use an applicant tracking system or other software to automate email updates and notifications to candidates. This can help ensure that communication is consistent and timely.

If you’re hiring many people at once, sending out automated emails is better than not responding at all. Schedule an automated email to be sent to the applicant immediately after their application is received. Outline the timeline and expectations for the hiring process, thus reducing the number of candidates emailing or calling too early in the process.

5. Implement a no-delay policy

Reach out with constructive feedback as soon as it’s decided that the applicant is not a good fit for the position. As time passes, the candidate becomes more frustrated with the hiring process and your organization.

IT candidates deserve the same respect as clients

In this candidate-driven job market, it’s useful that you know this – 58 percent of job seekers expect to hear back from companies, about their initial application, in one week or less.

“Your organization should be able to update a candidate about the recruitment process within three to five working days, tops. If a company can’t interact swiftly, their communication process is flawed and needs a thorough review,” says Marija Evita Taurina.

A good tactic for stopping ghosting is this – think of your candidates as your clients or leads. You wouldn’t leave a client hanging without a response for days and weeks, right? To improve your company brand, corporate culture, and recruitment prospects, start by treating your IT candidates with the respect they deserve.

IT recruitment agency MateHR isn’t only well-versed in finding IT professionals globally and forming powerful tech teams. We are more than happy to share our insight and experience on structuring and organizing your IT recruitment process – just drop us a line.


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