What is Ghosting and How it Disrupts the Hiring Process and Ways to Tackle this Menace

What is Ghosting and Why it has Become a Serious Problem for All Stakeholders

We often hear the term, Ghosting, in Human Resources or HR Literature and Practice used in context of how jobseekers who have been recruited or called for interviews not showing up either on the joining date or leaving without completing the hiring and on-boarding processes.

Ghosting happens in the reverse direction as well wherein organizations do not honour their job offers as well as do not reply back to the candidates who have been selected.

Ghosting also happens in Gig or Freelance Work wherein clients often take the work done by the Freelancers and either do not pay them or go incommunicado.

Indeed, as the name implies, Ghosting has to do with simply disappearing without a trace either by the employer or the employee.

While Ghosting in some form or the other was always prevalent, it has increased in recent months due to the Covid 19 Pandemic making it tough on both employers and employees who often fail to honour their commitments due to various reasons.

Indeed, Ghosting has become a menace to the extent that HR managers are scrambling to find appropriate solutions.

Some Ways in Which Ghosting by Jobseekers Can be Tackled by Industry Wide Action

One way Ghosting can be tackled is by blacklisting those candidates who fail to show up on the Joining Date.

While this sounds easy in theory, practically, it is not possible unless there are more serious consequences for the candidates such as precluding him or her from joining other firms.

In other words, there has to be an industry wide understanding to prevent jobseekers who Ghost so that they think twice before leaving their employers in the lurch.

However, this is not possible in a majority of the cases as firms compete with each other for the best talent and one employer’s loss is another employer’s gain.

In other words, most employers relish the prospect of employees ghosting their competitors making it impossible for HR Managers to prevent this menace.

Indeed, as the Race to Bottom Competition for Talent intensifies, it is entirely plausible that Ghosting might increase.

For instance, in our early years of our careers during the Y2K Fuelled Software Boom in the late 1990s and early 2000s, it was common for many of us to receive multiple offers and hence, take one and leave the others in the lurch. This is happening again now with more sophistication.

Employers Need to Take Action Based on Legal Regulations and After Due Diligence

While Ghosting can happen at any stage of the Hiring Process, it becomes a serious problem when the candidates do not join the firms or leave it during the on-boarding process or during the subsequent training and on the job familiarization stages.

Indeed, it is a menace as far as Ghosting during the recruitment process is concerned and a problem worthy of penal action when the candidate accepts the job offer, but does not turn up on the joining date or leaves in a short time.

To prevent this, employers can ask for collateral such as the employee’s certificates or other such important documents to ensure that the employee turns up on the joining date.

However, there are legal issues involved and hence, this practice must be followed only after Due Diligence.

In addition, employers can make the candidates sign a Bond or other such legal commitments and this is allowed by the regulators as well.

These steps can be an effective deterrent to those who Ghost.

The point here is that candidates must accept only those offers that they are serious about joining and not promise multiple firms about their acceptance and then Ghost the rest leaving them behind.

Employers and Clients Who are Ghosting are Being Cruel on Jobseekers and Freelancers

Having said that, it is not only employees who Ghost and in recent months, the reverse trend of employers Ghosting has increased exponentially.

For instance, the news is awash with reports of how the Pandemic has made a majority of the firms rescind their job offers and that too without proper communication.

Indeed, there are instances where candidates who turn up on the Joining Date were turned away and this is nothing but a cruel joke on them as they would have come with high hopes.

Moreover, there are cases where employers have gone incommunicado after the hiring process leaving the candidates in the lurch.

The point here is that there should not be any uncertainty that plays with the lives of the jobseekers and if firms are not interested in hiring or honouring their commitments, they must simply not advertise or commence the hiring process.

In addition, Freelancers are being hit especially hard due to clients’ Ghosting at will.

There are horror stories on LinkedIn about how clients have refused to pay for the work or have simply disappeared without a trace after receiving the work.

So, the menace of Ghosting cuts both ways in impacting all the stakeholders.


Last, Ghosting is as old as the existence of Corporates and it is only in recent years that serious thought is being given to how to tackle it.

This is mainly because in the present times, it is hard to Ghost without leaving a trace. Earlier, it was common for unscrupulous manpower agencies to Ghost and though it happens now as well, there are more robust legal options that are available for the victims.

To conclude, there needs to be a concerted action against all those who Ghost, whether they are jobseekers or employers with a coordinated industry wide solution.

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Human Resource Management