From Hopeful to Haunted: Dealing with Ghosting in Job Applications

Have you been fired, out of work, or perhaps, looking to get started on the career path you have been dreaming of? Well, it's never been easy. It's a tough world out there. It's more like a battlefield as you go against other people as good as you and even better. Not only that, you have to go through a long and difficult process to prove to hiring managers, business executives, and startup founders that you're the right person they are looking for.

But when you go through the whole process and you end up receiving empty promises, assurances, and false hopes that you will get the job, something is wrong along the way right? It's more like riding a roller coaster. And then you get 'ghosted.'

Yes, ghosted. Not a paranormal activity. It is a phenomenon where a job seeker experiences a sudden and complete lack of communication from a potential employer after submitting an application, attending an interview, or even completing multiple rounds of interviews. What makes it worse, sometimes you get a generic templated email that you're simply not good enough even though you're perfectly qualified for the job so at least getting a shot into the process is well warranted.

All that hard work, long and sleepless nights trying to get your CV right and preparing that perfect work portfolio are down the drain. You are left in a state of uncertainty, without any updates, or closure regarding the status of the application or the hiring decision. The truth is that it could occur at any stage of the application process so the unpredictability is devastating for the candidates thereby leaving them feeling abandoned, ignored, and oftentimes cheated.

The Ghosting Phenomenon

In today's competitive job market, ghosting has become alarmingly a common occurrence. According to Glassdoor, employers have increasingly ghosted job seekers since the pandemic. It comes at a time when the tech sector has eliminated tens of thousands of jobs like the case of Microsoft, Meta, Salesforce, TikTok, and Shopify.

While there is limited formal data on the prevalence of ghosting, anecdotal evidence and personal accounts suggest that it is a widespread issue. The job site Indeed surveyed over 4,000 job seekers and about 900 employers to gauge the prevalence of ghosting in the job market. The poll showed 77% of respondents admit that employers have ghosted them. A similar survey by Clutch in 2018 showed that one in three job seekers say employers didn't bother communicating the bad news at all. Of those who get the rejection, only 21% say the employer contacted them by phone and 13% by email.

Job seekers from various industries and at different career stages have reported instances of ghosting, highlighting its pervasive nature. It transcends geographical boundaries and affects both entry-level positions and senior-level professionals. This phenomenon has gained attention across social media platforms, with individuals sharing their stories and frustrations, creating a sense of community among those who have experienced ghosting.

Why Some Employers 'Ghost' Job Seekers

Understanding the reasons behind this phenomenon can provide clear insights into why it has become prevalent. We have to understand that ghosting happens both ways, yet there are some factors as to why employers resort to this kind of tactic:

1. High volume of applications: In today's digital age, employers often receive a large number of applications for open positions. This inundation can make it challenging for them to respond to every applicant individually, leading to the decision to not respond at all.

2. Changing hiring priorities: Employers' needs and priorities may shift during the hiring process. They may find more suitable candidates or decide to postpone or cancel the position altogether. In such cases, employers may choose to avoid difficult conversations by opting for silence instead of notifying applicants.

3. Lack of time and resources: Human resource departments are often overwhelmed with multiple responsibilities. Limited time and resources may make it difficult for employers to provide timely updates to job applicants, resulting in unintentional ghosting.

Emotional Roller Coaster

That's the perfect description of the impact of ghosting on people. You're taken for a long ride yet you end up crashing in the end. It all begins with the excitement of submitting an application then followed by the long waiting game filled with anxiety and uncertainty. After days and even weeks of waiting, you don't receive a response. In the end, you feel disappointed and even doubt your very own skills, capabilities, and worth.

When you begin to question your qualifications, you end up wondering what mistake you did somewhere along the application process. Such self-doubt can seriously erode your confidence and end up spiralling out of control which affects your future job applications.

In this day and age, mental health matters and the emotional toll even extends beyond the job search itself. It can cause stress, anxiety, and feelings of isolation. The constant fear of rejection coupled with the anticipation of a response, uncertainty of the future, and lack of closure can often lead to increased levels of distress and negativity that could affect one's quality of life.

Something's got to change. We can't blame it on the poor job applicants. It has to be a systemic issue that exists solely in the hiring process itself and the unrealistic demands and expectations of employers.

Coping Mechanisms

One of the most crucial coping mechanisms when it comes to dealing with ghosting is recognizing that it is not a reflection of your personal worth or professional capabilities. It would be advisable to seek support from family and friends for that much-needed encouragement and support. By sharing your experiences and frustrations, you are alleviating the emotional burden and stress.

Seek help from professionals, such as mentors, industry peers, or career coaches, as they can provide guidance and offer strategies to navigate the job search process effectively. Engaging with them can also lead to new opportunities and connections that may ultimately help you with your job search.

We know dealing with this is a challenge. It's easy to say but difficult to do. It can be emotionally draining but dealing with ghosting can be done by doing self-care activities to maintain your own well-being. Think about activities that promote relaxation, stress reduction, and mental health such as physical exercise, mindfulness practices, hobbies, reading, or spending time with loved ones.

Consider taking a break from the grind of job searching by setting boundaries and prioritizing self-care activities to alleviate stress and anxiety. That valuable time would be good enough to get your bearing straight and gain a sense of control and resilience.

Yes, ghosting can be disheartening. It is important to maintain a proactive approach to your job search. This includes continuing to apply for positions, networking, and expanding your skill set. By focusing on your professional growth and actively seeking new opportunities, you can regain a sense of empowerment and control.

Another to take into heart is setting realistic goals, developing a structured job search plan, and establishing a good routine to stay motivated and maintain momentum. Keep the process moving forward even in the face of ghosting. These strategies will empower you to overcome the negative effects of ghosting and regain control over your career trajectory.

Final Thoughts

While ghosting can be disheartening, it is important to remember that resilience and perseverance are key traits in overcoming this challenge. By advocating for better communication practices in the hiring process and sharing experiences, we can work towards a more transparent and respectful job search environment.

In the face of ghosting, job seekers should remain hopeful and determined. Each experience, even the haunting ones, can provide valuable lessons and growth opportunities. By maintaining a positive mindset, embracing support, and staying proactive, job seekers can navigate the ghosting phenomenon and ultimately find the employment they deserve.

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