Recruiter Ghosting is at an All-Time High. Here’s What Job Candidates Should–and Shouldn’t–Do About It

April 5, 2023 | By | Reply More

recruiter ghosting

Recruiter ghosting is on the rise. What should candidates do?

Getting ignored by recruiters during a job search is demoralizing. The job search and application process is hard enough with its ups and downs.

One minute, you might feel happy and hopeful when you hear about a great job opening. The next, you feel confused and disappointed when you don’t hear back from the recruiter or hiring manager. What’s going on? This is called “recruiter ghosting,” and it happens more often than we’d like.

In this article, we’ll talk about why ghosting occurs, what you can do to stay focused and motivated during your job search (even when it feels like no one is responding), and then share some tips to help prevent being ghosted by recruiters.


The Ghosting Pendulum

Recruiter ghosting has become increasingly common in recent years. According to data from Indeed, the percentage of job seekers reporting being ghosted by a recruiter has increased steadily since 2018. It is a frustrating and discouraging experience, especially for those who are already struggling to find work.


Candidate Ghosting

To be fair, we have to acknowledge that ghosting is a two way street. In fact, not long ago it seemed to be a more common phenomenon with candidates who had the upper hand in the job market. In 2018, the Washington Post noted the growing trend of candidates “ghosting employers like bad dates.”

In that same year, USA Today wrote about candidate ghosting, saying, “In the hottest job market in decades, workers are holding all the cards. And they’re starting to play dirty. A growing number are ‘ghosting’ their jobs: blowing off scheduled job interviews, accepting offers but not showing up the first day and even vanishing from existing positions – all without giving notice.”

USA Today did acknowledge, however, that that could’ve been happening “in retaliation” for the ghosting of candidates that had become common “during the Great Recession of 2007 to 2009, when unemployment reached 10 percent, many firms ignored job applicants and never followed up after interviews.”


recruiter ghosting pendulum


Recruiter Ghosting

In 2018, only 10% of job seekers reported being ghosted by a recruiter. However, by 2019, that number had increased to 28%. And in 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted the job market, the percentage of job seekers who reported being ghosted rose to 43%.

This trend was also reflected in a survey conducted by LinkedIn in 2019, which found that 46% of job seekers reported being ghosted by a recruiter at some point in their career.

Recruiter ghosting is not limited to a specific industry or job level. The survey found that job seekers across all industries and job levels reported being ghosted. In fact, the higher the job level, the more likely a job seeker was to experience ghosting. For example, 85% of executive-level job seekers reported being ghosted, compared to 63% of entry-level job seekers.

Another survey conducted by Talent Board in 2020 found that 46% of job seekers reported being ghosted by a potential employer during the recruiting process. Not surprisingly, the survey also found that ghosting can have a negative impact on a candidate’s perception of the employer. Of those who were ghosted, 72% said they would not apply for a job with that employer again, and 64% said they wouldn’t refer others to that employer.

“By analyzing more than 1 million reviews on the platform left between January 1, 2019, and October 16, 2022,” writes Sam Becker on Fast Company, “Glassdoor found that the number of interview reviews on the site that mention the term ‘ghosting’ (or similar phrases) is up 98% compared to before the pandemic. In effect, they’ve almost doubled.”

Just how far will the ghosting pendulum swing?


Why Recruiter Ghosting Happens

why recruiter ghosting happens

Why does recruiter ghosting happen?

Recruiters ghost candidates for a variety of reasons, all of which are beyond the job seeker’s control. For example, if a recruiter receives a high volume of applications, they may not be able to respond to every candidate individually.

Additionally, changes in the hiring process, such as a shift to virtual interviews, may create more complexity and make it more challenging for recruiters to keep track of all applicants.

In some cases, a recruiter may lose interest in a candidate’s qualifications or skills. This could happen if the candidate doesn’t meet the minimum requirements for the role, or if the recruiter identifies a better candidate. Or, even if a candidate’s salary expectations were too high.

Preferences for certain characteristics or backgrounds could also play a role in why a candidate is ghosted. For example, a recruiter may be looking for a candidate with a specific educational background or work experience, which could cause them to lose interest in a candidate.

Sometimes, companies may experience budget cuts or restructuring that may affect their hiring process, leading to a pause or cancellation of a candidate’s application.

Not hearing back from a recruiter after an interview could be due to communication issues or misunderstandings. For example, they might have sent an email that went to a candidate’s spam folder or they missed a phone call.

Oddly enough, some companies have strict policies in place that prohibit recruiters from contacting candidates unless they are selected for the next stage of the hiring process.

Last, recruiters are human, and they may experience personal or professional issues that could affect their ability to communicate effectively with candidates.

“‘Companies still really struggle to show up when they go about hiring,” said Greenhouse CEO Daniel Chait, in a Business Insider interview. “A lack of structure and a lack of intentionality around designing your hiring process leads you down these terrible paths. There’s a lot of transformation that companies need to undertake when they want to succeed in today’s hiring market.’”


Excuses Don’t Help

Regardless of the reason, being ghosted is discouraging for job seekers who are trying to find work. That’s why if you’ve been ghosted, it’s so important to keep in mind that being ghosted does not reflect your value as a candidate, even if you didn’t meet a position’s requirements.

Instead, know that ghosting is the result of factors outside your control. Recruiter ghosting ultimately reflects on the company and the employees tasked with interviewing and hiring. Ghosting speaks to a lack of planning and organization; a lack of internal training and support; and a lack of enforced personal responsibility and integrity.

Nonetheless, there are some steps you can take to reduce the likelihood of being ghosted, which we’ll cover in a later section.


Coping with Recruiter Ghosting

coping with recruiter ghosting

There are ways to cope with recruiter ghosting.

Unquestionably, recruiter ghosting affects candidates. Said Chait, “Ghosting makes candidates feel not valued. They find it confusing. They find it disrespectful. And candidates see that lack of responsiveness in the hiring process as reflective of a deeper problem in the company and an inability to treat people in a human way.”

If you’re being ghosted by a recruiter, once again it’s important to remember that it’s not your fault. Even if the recruiter lost interest or didn’t feel you were qualified, being ghosted is not excusable. Ghosting behavior reflects on the recruiter, not you.

What’s important when this happens is that you do your best to stay optimistic. It sounds like a tall order. But it’s necessary for your sake, as it will be helpful for you to maintain your focus.

Keep applying for jobs.

Don’t let a recruiter ghosting experience sabotage you by discouraging you from continuing your job search. Remember that finding the right job takes time, and rejection truly is a normal part of the process.

Stay organized.

Keep track of the jobs you’ve applied for, and follow up with recruiters or hiring managers after a week or two. If you don’t hear back after two attempts, move on. A company that allows recruiter ghosting is not worth your valuable wait time.

Seek support.

Talk to a friend, family member, or career coach about your job search. Sometimes, just having someone to listen and offer encouragement can make all the difference.


Additionally, engage in self-care activities, such as exercise or hobbies, to help you manage the stress and anxiety related to a job search.

To prevent taking recruiter ghosting personally, repeatedly remind yourself that others’ bad behavior is about them, not you. It’s important not to blame oneself for being ghosted, as this can lead to feelings of self-doubt and defeat. Also know that you are not alone. A recruiter that ghosts you will ghost anyone that doesn’t serve their needs.

Ultimately, it’s important for you to remember that being ghosted by a recruiter is not a reflection of your worth or abilities. By staying motivated, seeking support, and focusing on personal growth, you can increase your chances of finding the right job, even in the face of setbacks.


Prevent Being Ghosted by Recruiters

prevent recruiter ghostingWhile you actually can’t control the actions of recruiters, there are some things you can do to reduce the likelihood of being ghosted.

Be proactive by following up with recruiters after you apply for a job, and make sure to respond promptly if they reach out to you.

Research to learn as much as you can about the company and the position before you apply or interview. This will show the recruiter that you’re serious and interested in the opportunity.

Always be courteous and professional in your interactions with recruiters and hiring managers. Even if you don’t get the job, you want to leave a positive impression in case a future opportunity arises.

Focus on continuing to build your skills and qualifications to make yourself more competitive in the job market. This can involve taking courses or workshops, networking with professionals in their field, or volunteering in related organizations. By focusing on self-improvement, you can increase your confidence and resilience in the face of rejection.


What Not to do if being ghosted by a recruiter:

Don’t hound a recruiter by sending too many follow-up emails or phone calls. While it’s essential to follow up after an interview or application, sending too many emails or making too many phone calls can be counterproductive. This behavior may be perceived as pushy or desperate, which could harm your chances of being considered for the position.

According to The Ladders, job seekers should avoid sending more than one follow-up email or phone call after an interview or application, unless they’ve indicated they want you to check back. If you don’t receive a response after this, it’s best to move on and focus on other opportunities.

Again, don’t take recruiter ghosting personally or blame yourself. It’s easy to take ghosting personally, but it’s important to remember that it’s not necessarily a reflection of your abilities or worth as a professional. Recruiters may be dealing with multiple priorities, including other job openings, competing demands, and unforeseen circumstances.

The Muse suggests that job seekers should avoid blaming themselves or getting discouraged by the experience. Instead, focus on building your skills and qualifications to increase your chances of success in the long run.

Don’t badmouth the recruiter or the company on LinkedIn, where those recruiters and other company personnel are likely visiting. If you’ve been ghosted by a recruiter, it may be tempting to vent your frustration on social media. However, this can be a big mistake, as it can damage your professional reputation and harm your chances of being considered for other job openings.

Avoid complaining, venting, or bad mouthing ghost recruiters or companies on social media, as this behavior can be seen as unprofessional and may create a negative impression.

Finally, don’t stop applying for other jobs or put all your eggs in one basket. You should avoid putting all your eggs in one basket by focusing on just a single job opening. Even if you feel that a particular position is your dream job, it’s important to keep your options open and continue applying for other opportunities.

Continue networking, sending out resumes, and applying for other job openings. This can help you stay motivated and increase your chances of finding the right job for you.

Being ghosted by a recruiter can be frustrating and discouraging, but there are better ways to handle the situation than getting frustrated or angry. By avoiding these common mistakes, you can maintain your professionalism and increase your chances of success in the long run.


Moving forward

moving beyond recruiter ghosting

Don’t let recruiter ghosting hold you back. Keep moving forward!

Here’s a recommendation on how to proceed if you haven’t heard back from a recruiter after an interview, broken down into a timeline.

Within one week:

Send a thank-you note to the recruiter or hiring manager to express your appreciation for the opportunity to interview. Mention your continued interest in the position and ask about next steps.

Within two weeks

If you haven’t heard back, follow up with an email or phone call to the recruiter or hiring manager. Reiterate your interest in the position and ask if there is any additional information you can provide.

Within three weeks

If you still haven’t heard back, it’s reasonable to assume that you were not selected for the position. However, it’s still a good idea to follow up one more time to ask for feedback on your interview performance and to express your interest in future opportunities with the company.

After three weeks

If you still haven’t received a response, it’s time to move on and focus your job search efforts elsewhere. Remember that it’s common for recruiters to have multiple priorities and that not hearing back does not necessarily mean you were not qualified for the position.


Keep your follow-up messages brief and professional, and always express your appreciation for the opportunity to interview.


Wrap Up

Recruiter ghosting is frustrating and downright demoralizing, but it’s important to remember that it’s not a reflection of your worth as a job seeker. Do your best to remove yourself from the situation, and move forward by staying focused and optimistic, and taking proactive steps to prevent being ghosted, you can increase your chances of finding the right job for you. Keep applying, stay organized, and seek support when you need it.

You’ve got this!


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Category: Featured, Interviewing, Job Search, Recruiting

About the Author ()

Pamela La Gioia is a resume writer and LinkedIn profile expert. She is also a pioneer in remote work, and has been researching and writing about remote work since the early 1990's. You can follow her on LinkedIn, for resume tips, LinkedIn insight, and general career help.

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