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Left on read: ‘Ghosting is as ubiquitous as oxygen’ in the job hiring process

By Kace O'Neill | |7 minute read

People are no longer just being ghosted in the dating space, but now through the job hiring process. Both candidates and employers are being subjected to the “left on read” treatment.

Ghosting, in relative terms, is the act of cutting off contact and communication with someone without giving that person any warning or explanation for doing so. It is something that is a common occurrence in the dating scene, yet the term has now gained traction in the job hiring process.

Sue Parker, career strategist, communications expert, and owner of DARE Group Australia, claims that ghosting is running rampant in the job hiring space, believing it has been a long-term issue between employers and candidates.


“Ghosting is as ubiquitous as oxygen. Ghosting is simply putting your head in a bucket and refusing to communicate. This is not a new issue. This has been a long-term issue,” Ms Parker said.

Although the term is new, the action is habitual, and now, with updated forms of communication, different avenues can be used to carry out the rude gesture.

“It’s probably even become more pervasive and ludicrous, given the many avenues to communicate. It’s not just phone. You’ve got email, you’ve got texting, you’ve got WhatsApp, all the various elements. Ghosting is a massive issue that really hasn’t moved in any way, shape or form. Recruiters and HR organisations are horrific for it,” Ms Parker said.

This is not a one-way street, however, as candidates themselves often indulge in ghosting.

“There’s also been the same issue on candidate side. So, I will say here, it’s well-known fact that candidates are also doing it a lot more than ever. I’ve certainly been ghosted as a recruiter by candidates, and it’s basically people refusing to communicate with maturity and respect, and it’s just not acceptable,” Ms Parker said.

With so many different forms of communication available to candidates and employers, there is little to no excuse for exercising this practice; it is merely another obstacle added to what already is an extremely stressful process.

“I mean, candidates will never hear back. Promises are broken. It’s a regular issue. It’s not just occasional; it’s constant. And it’s a lack of communication and maturity,” Ms Parker said.

“Whether it be from a candidate or whether it be from a company, hiring is an important issue. As a candidate, looking for a new role is an important and highly stressful activity. For organisations [that] are trying to fill roles, it is also stressful and anxious. When anyone refuses to communicate fairly and on time and with honesty, everyone loses.”

Ms Parker believes that this communication breakdown comes about due to a multitude of reasons, with the main one being a fear of scrutiny or backlash from the other side.

“Essentially, it’s a lack of risk aversion. One of the things that people, humanity in general, hate is the opportunity where they could get backlash. So, it’s a communication issue,” Ms Parker said.

“Organisations are hesitant to give feedback in case it comes back on them. Candidates are hesitant to call back the recruiter and accept the job or not accept the job through a whole range of fear. So, it’s fear, it’s a lack of communication skills, its arrogance, it’s a lack of training in how to handle sensitive issues, too.”

A guilt compartment is also one of the reasons ghosting occurs quite regularly throughout this process. Both sides often know they have done something wrong and hold forms of guilt that they want to hide. It goes back to that aversion; they are trying to escape conflict by ignoring the situation and basically pretending it never happened by relinquishing all communication ties.

Ms Parker iterates that to avoid this situation, skills and tools need to be had by both parties.

“The answer to that has to be the tools and the skills to communicate potentially conflictual issues in a very calm manner that minimises backlash. And that’s a skill, that’s a skill that very few people really have. You can deliver unfortunate news in a way that minimises backlash,” Ms Parker said.

All in all, ghosting is a negative trend affecting the job hiring process throughout, which is something that creates a very pessimistic image of the process and whichever brand perpetuates the action.

“The sad thing is this happens in senior roles of half a million dollars as much as it does in middle roles of $80,000. I’ve seen it all along for the last 20 years as a recruiter and now as a career strategist. It’s irrelevant of the role or the seniority,” Ms Parker concluded.

“The behaviours on both ends are certainly creating such a waste of time and such a damaging situation to their brands, because the word spreads. Word spreads that that organisation has certainly backpedalled and not followed through.”

The transcript of this podcast episode was slightly edited for publishing purposes. To listen to the full conversation with Sue Parker, click below:



The practice of actively seeking, locating, and employing people for a certain position or career in a corporation is known as recruitment.

Kace O'Neill

Kace O'Neill

Kace O'Neill is a Graduate Journalist for HR Leader. Kace studied Media Communications and Maori studies at the University of Otago, he has a passion for sports and storytelling.