Were You Ghosted by a Recruiter? Here’s Why It Happens

stressed female having headache while working on report in office.
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One of the first rules of job hunting is that you should never take rejection personally. There could be any number of reasons you weren’t hired that have nothing to do with your qualifications. This applies to being ghosted by recruiters as well.

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“Ghosting” is what happens when recruiters or hiring managers suddenly stop contacting job candidates. This usually occurs with no warning or explanation — even after days or weeks of dialogue. It’s a frustrating experience for several reasons, not the least of which is that you don’t even get a courtesy message saying the job is no longer open or you just weren’t the right fit.

One thing to keep in mind is that sending a resume without hearing back is not considered ghosting, according to FAANGPath, which provides professional mentoring and career services. The “ghosting” part usually kicks in after you’ve undergone phone screenings and/or interviews.

There are typically three main reasons job candidates are ghosted by a recruiter, CNBC reported, citing comments from professional recruiter Deven Lall-Perry:

  • The job is no longer available. This might be the case if employers over-hired in the first half of the year and suddenly have to implement hiring freezes or pauses during the rest of the year to stay within budget.
  • Your salary expectations are too high. Asking for more money than an employer budgets for the role will often lead recruiters to cut off contact. This doesn’t necessarily mean you have no shot at landing the job, however. As Lall-Perry told CNBC, recruiters might touch base again weeks or even months later after the employer realizes that their own salary expectations are much lower than what the market commands.
  • The recruiter misunderstands an employer’s hiring plans. This typically happens with third-party recruiters who are hired by employers to find job candidates. If the recruiter gets the job details wrong because of miscommunication, they might suddenly cut off contact with job candidates rather than admit they made a mistake.
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If you have been ghosted by a recruiter, there are some steps you can take to re-establish contact. FAANGPath recommends following up with your recruiter by sending a simple email thanking the recruiter for their time and help. If you don’t get a reply, wait three days for the next follow-up email and then five more days for the third and final follow-up. At this point, you are better off moving on.

You should also take the time to dig into why you might have been ghosted, in order to prevent it from happening again. Review areas you could improve on next time, such as doing more research about salary expectations or finding out if the recruiter has a history of ghosting job candidates. If the latter circumstance applies, maybe you should mark that recruiter off your list.

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Finally, don’t take it personally. As FAANGPath notes, recruiters might receive thousands of applications for a single position — which makes it all but impossible to personally reply to all applicants, even after going through the first couple steps of the hiring process. It may be worthwhile to accept that ghosting is part of the job-hunting experience, rather than being discouraged when it does happen to you.

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About the Author

Vance Cariaga is a London-based writer, editor and journalist who previously held staff positions at Investor’s Business Daily, The Charlotte Business Journal and The Charlotte Observer. His work also appeared in Charlotte Magazine, Street & Smith’s Sports Business Journal and Business North Carolina magazine. He holds a B.A. in English from Appalachian State University and studied journalism at the University of South Carolina. His reporting earned awards from the North Carolina Press Association, the Green Eyeshade Awards and AlterNet. In addition to journalism, he has worked in banking, accounting and restaurant management. A native of North Carolina who also writes fiction, Vance’s short story, “Saint Christopher,” placed second in the 2019 Writer’s Digest Short Short Story Competition. Two of his short stories appear in With One Eye on the Cows, an anthology published by Ad Hoc Fiction in 2019. His debut novel, Voodoo Hideaway, was published in 2021 by Atmosphere Press.
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