Ghosting from Employers: Why it Happens and What to Do Afterwards

By: Michael Tamsuriyamit ‘23


Have you ever left an interview feeling confident about the conversation you had with a job recruiter, only to have them never contact you afterwards?


In a time when people are mostly getting hired and recruited online, ghosting has unfortunately become a common experience for many job applicants. Especially in the digital age that we live in, the internet makes it very easy for employers to leave job seekers “on read” after conducting interviews with them.


This blog post will address the following questions that job applicants may have about ghosting: What exactly is “ghosting”? Why does ghosting happen? What should I do if I think I have been ghosted?


What exactly is “ghosting”?


According to Adam Popescu of The New York Times, “ghosting” is when “someone cuts off all communication without explanation.” Although the term was originally meant to describe when a person abruptly ends a relationship with someone, and subsequently stops communicating with them as well, the definition for ghosting has since expanded to account for various social contexts.


In the case of the job recruitment process, Andrew Seaman of LinkedIn News says that it is important to know “what is and what is not ghosting.” 


“While people may argue over the specifics, many job search experts agree that ghosting occurs when a hiring manager or recruiter fails to respond after you’ve had some initial contact,” Seaman said. “You have not been ghosted if you haven’t heard back after submitting your resume or application.”


Ghosting in the world of jobs, therefore, refers to the situation where job applicants are left hanging after they have already established communication (i.e. had an interview) with recruiters. 


Why does ghosting happen?


There are several reasons why you may be ghosted by an employer. Some possible reasons include:

  • You may have missed an important step of the application process. An example of this could be them asking you to send them a list of references to verify your job experiences and capabilities. If you’ve missed a step and the employer explicitly stated it would not review any incomplete applications, they have no incentive to follow up with someone who did not follow instructions. 
  • The recruiter became overwhelmed with other job applications. Especially if you are applying for a job at a well-known company, it is most likely that you are one out of thousands of job applicants. Because you may be one of many applying for the same position, recruiters can unfortunately lose track of its applicants.
  • The employer managed to fill the vacant position internally. This means that the employer was able to find someone already working for the company to assume the role. This may not be the most ethical way an employer goes about hiring, but because you as the job applicant cannot see what happens behind the scenes, you will not know they did so until that someone has publicly been named for hire. 
  • The company believes no response is better than sending out a hard-to-swallow rejection. It is an indisputable fact that you will get both acceptances and rejections throughout the job application process. When you are rejected from an opportunity, it is often because the employer managed to find a candidate other than you who better suits the job criteria. Although arguably unprofessional, some employers tend to think that by not saying anything (i.e. ghosting), it prevents any conflict that may arise if they were to have sent a message saying you were indeed rejected.


What should I do if I think I have been ghosted?


1) Reach Out and Send a Follow-Up Message

Like everyone else, employers can become very busy, especially if they are actively recruiting people to fill vacant positions. As said before, it may become so overwhelming that your job application gets lost amid the countless other applications waiting to be reviewed.


By sending a follow-up message, usually by email, it shows job recruiters that you have not forgotten about them – it politely and indirectly reminds them that you were expecting a response from them, especially if they said they would get back to you.



2) Review and Reflect

As mentioned before, sometimes the job applicant is at fault for being ghosted, especially if they missed an important step in the application process. Other times, they may not be at fault, but they tried following up with the employer and still did not receive a response back.


Reviewing and reflecting on why you may have been ghosted is a good practice for all job applicants. It shows that you are actively trying to figure out what the potential reasons were for ghosting, and can also help you better prepare yourself for applying to other opportunities in the future.



3) Just Breathe and Continue Moving Forward

It is very common for people to feel heartbroken after being ghosted by an employer. If you are ghosted, it is important to remember you are not alone, and that countless other prospective job applicants have or are currently going through the same experience. 


If you have concluded that a recruiter has stopped communicating with you for good, take some time away – but not too much time! – from the job application process. After you have cleared your mind, jump back into the groove of things and start applying to new opportunities with the mindset that this time, things will be different.


It’s like that famous motto once said: you can’t change the past, but you can change the future.


For additional information and advice about what to do when you are ghosted, check out the following links:

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