Discouraged Man Checking Mobile Phone

Exorcising ghosting by prospective employers

How the Circle Back movement could make this ghastly treatment vanish into thin air

Written by Professor Gary Martin FAIM
2 minute read
Discouraged Man Checking Mobile Phone

It is a practice that leaves job applicants feeling upset, frustrated and disrespected and causes some to question their professional capabilities.

Employers are ghosting job applicants by giving them the silent treatment after they have submitted their resumes, completed a practical employment test or participated in an interview.

In a tight job market, there are repercussions for employers who ignore that attracting the best staff requires care and consideration during the recruitment process.

Ghosting by employers is hardly new – and there are reports this poor practice is on the rise.

Many job applicants complain their applications are not acknowledged while some say they hear nothing after being interviewed.

Others confirm that even after they have mad contact to request an update, their messages remain unanswered.

At the most extreme, ghosting is the case of the applicant who takes a full day off from an existing job – without pay – to interview at another company. Then – crickets.

Reasons for ghosting are many and varied.

Employers say they are swamped with applicants to the point that it is impossible to provide updates. Others prefer to avoid the difficult job of breaking bad news to unsuccessful applicants.

Even so, the problem with not getting back to job applicants is that it overlooks the fact most would prefer to have closure rather than be left in limbo.

It is also rude.

Job applicants will remember how well they are treated and share the experience with their friends and professional contacts.

Over time, this will damage an organisation’s employment brand and discourage even talented people from applying for positions.

Some employers are so concerned with potential damage to their brand that they try to set themselves apart from those organisations that give job applicants the silent treatment.

They have become part of a new movement called the Circle Back Initiative, made up of employers and recruiters who guarantee to respond to every job applicant.

Circle Back says the initiative exists “to help make a change and encourage and champion organisations who respond to every applicant”.

Circle Back members guarantee every applicant receives “an ‘application received’ mail”, every unsuccessful application receives “an outcome communication” and job advertisements are not permitted to contain wording like “only shortlisted candidates will be contacted”.

Circle Back organisation members in Australia include Alinta Energy, Water Corporation, K-Mart, Officeworks, Allianz, Nissan and KPMG.

The advent of Circle Back is a sign employers are finally getting the message that ghosting is a damaging practice.

And there is some upside for those job candidates who have been ghosted.

Being ghosted may be an initial disappointment but it probably saves you from a more lasting pain when you discover you have been hired by an organisation that fails to live up to your expectations.

So look out for the Circle Back logo next time you are on the job hunt.