Ghosted by Headhunters ?? A Mea Culpa

Last week I received an email from an exasperated executive asking for my opinion. Perhaps it is better said that he was venting in my general direction. His issue was executive search firms and placement agencies that have repeatedly, and inexplicably, ghosted him. I will let him explain:

“Even a simple boiler plate message along the lines of ‘the client has found a candidate they feel suitable for the role’ would suffice. Radio silence and, even worse, not responding to a candidate’s inquiry asking for an update is, in my view, unprofessional. I’ve seen this happen even when the agency had reached out to a passive candidate, got them really interested in the role through several conversations, to then just ghost them once the process has concluded with a selection. Very poor behaviour indeed.”

With its consequence-free social media roots, ghosting has crept into the employment arena, and in all directions. A 2021 employment survey by the firm Indeed reported that 77% of job seekers say they’ve been ghosted by a prospective employer since the onset of Covid-19, with 10% reporting that an employer has ghosted them even after a verbal job offer was extended. In addition, 28% of job seekers have ghosted a prospective employer and 76% of employers have been ghosted by a prospective employee, with some even no-showing on their first day.

While dispensing positive news is more pleasing than the negative variety, and awkward conversations are never fun, there is no excuse for normalizing rude, inconsiderate and unprofessional behavior. For those occasions where our communications practices have been less than proactive, transparent and empathetic we apologize and promise to do better.

About the Author

Robert Hebert, Ph.D., is the Managing Partner of Toronto-based StoneWood Group Inc, a leading human resources consulting firm. He has spent the past 25 years assisting firms in the technology sector address their senior recruiting, assessment and leadership development requirements.

Mr. Hebert holds a Masters Degree in Industrial Relations as well as a Doctorate in Adult Education, both from the University of Toronto.

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