Ghosting: From Social Media and Dating Apps, to a severe phenomenon in the labor market and across the society

Deniza Cristian 21/03/2023 | 11:57

In the recent years, most large companies have faced ghosting experiences in their recruitment  processes. This is a major indicator of the emergence of a new social phenomena, with serious effects in the coming years, an Arthur Hunt Romania analysis highlights.


Thus, even though they have the necessary skills for the role the are applying for and successfully go through several stages of recruitment, a massive number of candidates suddenly stop communicating with recruiters without any explanation.

The percentage amounts to about 10% of all candidates (recruitment processes), according to Arthur Hunt’s estimates and this behavior is most common especially among young people between the ages of 20 and 40. This is an avoidance mechanism, lack of assumption or fear of transition to new experiences.

The ghosting phenomenon has intensified in the recent years on the labor market and it is borrowed from social media, respectively from the expansion of the popularity of dating apps. The pandemic period, characterized by social distancing and communication through various social platforms, has also accentuated this phenomenon.

In other European countries, such as France, Poland or Slovakia, the phenomenon is already spread among people over 50 years old and can also take the form of breaking a firm promise made to employers without any sign that foreshadows this break. According to data from Arthur Hunt International, 1 in 3 candidates abandons the job transition process in the final stages, after signing the job offer or the contract. Thus, ghosting tends to expand in the future to other age categories in Romania too, points out the Romanian specialists of Arthur Hunt.

„At this moment, we are talking about a normality state which is dangerous for the society, at this age segment – and we are talking about middle management roles, thus the candidates have a certain level of experience. We interact with distinct facets of candidates` personalities in apparent disharmony, which seem not to communicate with each other. At the beginning of the process, we experience the excited side of the candidate, motivated by the development opportunities and the future. In this phase, the candidate makes efforts to seduce the future employer, in order to be the chosen one. This facet is abruptly replaced by that of the harsh reality in which the candidate understands the costs of the transition, the risks he is exposed to, the price he has to pay to access the previously imagined state of well-being and then the process freezes and the candidate disappears”, says psychologist Alina Sîrbu, Arthur Hunt Romania partner and one of the most experienced HR consultants on the local market.

The mechanism of avoiding the consequences of actions and selectively presenting certain facets of the personality borrowed from social networks gives a false sense of protection and discourages initiative, assumption and, in a broad sense, facing everyday life, the company representative adds.

In this context, while there are no short-term approaches, Arthur Hunt specialists recommend:

  • On an individual level, those in this position need to maintain a balanced focus throughout the process on both the benefits and the costs of change.
  • Also, to self-train the courage to start new activities of any kind, to look openly at what’s new and to look back to calibrate the cost of the change imagined at the beginning with the actual “paid” cost.
  • A third important aspect is to refocus on face-to-face interactions and immediate reality.
  • Companies need to adopt programs that encourage people interaction.
  • From the educational system point of view, there is a need for systemic measures to reconnect young people in direct interactions, allowing them to train the capacity for emotional and social regulation necessary for a balanced and assumed life.

The ghosting percentage varies by industry, but overall it has been seen in recent years in all middle management recruitment projects, according to company specialists. In finance and IT roles it is highest (28%), in other technical roles it is 22% and the overall average is 10%. In comparison, in 2019 ghosting was only registered in exceptional cases, with no statistical impact.

Ghosting behavior has severe consequences for candidates. Their profiles remain marked in the recruiters` records, who eliminate them from possible future recruitment processes.

Arhur Hunt is one of the world’s leading international HR consultancies. Present in Romania since 2006, the company is active in the segments of Executive Research, HR advisory and change management processes in medium and large organizations.

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