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Ghosting Goes Professional? Survey Shows Gen Z Job Seekers Vanish, Leaving Employers Stranded

More than half of the surveyed businesses stated that ghosting has made their hiring process significantly more challenging.
Cover Image Source: Photo by Anna Shvets | Pexels
Cover Image Source: Photo by Anna Shvets | Pexels

Ghosting, which was once limited to dating, has now expanded its territory. It seems Gen Z is treating potential employers much like they would a bad date—by not showing up for interviews or even their first day of work, without bothering to give a heads-up.

Image Source: Photo by fauxels | Pexels
Gen Z is ghosting potential employers (representative image) | Photo by fauxels | Pexels

A recent survey conducted by employment website Indeed looked into this phenomenon, polling 1,500 businesses and 1,500 working individuals in the U.K. The results were eye-opening, revealing that job ghosting is rampant. A staggering 75% of employees admitted to ignoring a potential employer within the past year. Among these numbers, the youngest cohort of workers emerged as the most frequent ghosters. A staggering 93% of Gen Z respondents confessed to bailing out of an interview at least once.

What's even more concerning is that 87% of them managed to sail through interviews with ease, clinched the job, and even signed the contract—only to vanish on their very first day of work, leaving their new boss in a lurch.

Their rationale? They believe it gives them a sense of control over their career. However, while this might empower them, it's having detrimental effects on businesses. More than half of the surveyed businesses stated that ghosting has made their hiring process significantly more challenging.

Image Source: Cottonbro studios | Pexels
 93% of Gen Z respondents confessed to bailing out of an interview at least once (representative image) | Cottonbro studios | Pexels

Although Gen Z takes the lead in ghosting behavior, it seems no generation is entirely innocent. According to Indeed's data, everyone has been guilty of ghosting at some point. Nearly half of those surveyed admitted they might vanish again in the future, with about a third considering it acceptable to do so even before an interview. However, unlike younger employees, who feel powerful by ignoring their employers, older workers tend to regret their acts right away. For example, millennials frequently suffer anxiety after ghosting and worry about the potential impact on future job opportunities. Interestingly, while more than half of Gen Zers have ghosted multiple times, the likelihood of repeating this behavior decreases with age.

Even businesses are getting in on the act: one in five workers reported being stood up for a phone interview by a potential employer, and 23% have been left hanging after receiving a verbal job offer. This trend has led many workers to believe that ghosting is fair game: more than half agree that since employers ghost job seekers, it's acceptable to reciprocate. Surprisingly, over a third of companies also acknowledge this perspective as reasonable.

Indeed's analysis appears to support what many companies suspect: Gen Z may have commitment issues. In 2023, Christina Qi, CEO of Databento and MIT board member, shared her concerns with young candidates who did not show up for interviews. Her (now-deleted) post struck a chord and went viral too.  Qi described an incident in which a candidate failed to show up for an interview after scheduling it, highlighting how casual candidates are about interviews. This opinion aligns with findings from the UK's Office for National Statistics (ONS), which struggled to collect job statistics due to Gen Z's secretive nature, failing to answer telephone polls.

Image Source: Photo by nappy | Pexels
Gen Z candidates are especially casual about job interviews (representative image) | Photo by nappy | Pexels

To engage Gen Z effectively, companies must enhance their offers, or let's just say sweeten the deal.  Here's what they can look out for: 

Employee preferences: Better compensation and improved perks should be the priority to avoid ghosting. 

Financial considerations: The rising cost of living is one of the main reasons for ghosting, with around 40% admitting they are more likely to ghost for better pay or a shorter commute.

Financial strain: Many Gen Zers decline job offers due to financial constraints associated with starting a new job, such as dressing up professionally and the recurring travel/commute expenses. 

According to Danny Stacy, Indeed's U.K. head of talent intelligence, providing a competitive financial package is important for attracting and keeping your employees. While not all firms have the capacity to enhance their offers, being open about the financial aspects early on might reduce the ghosting later in the employment process.