Why millennials are ghosting job interviews and how to avoid it

August 23, 2018
3 minute read

We all hate being stood up. First, it’s a waste of time and then, above all, it’s deeply disrespectful. But it happens, we suck it up and deal with it, and expect it to happen again.

But do we have to?

Ghosting is how many millennials handle breakups or, more correctly,  avoid handling them at all. What is new, however, is how the practice has spread to the professional sphere.

Millennial “ghosting” haunts both recruiters and employers alike. We’ve heard reports of candidates who simply don’t show up for scheduled job interviews, suddenly stop coming to work, and—perhaps worst of all—don’t call recruiters back.

Hiring is becoming a difficult business. According to USA Today, many businesses report 20 percent to 50 percent of job applicants and workers end up ghosting. As a result, companies waste time and money on prolonged recruitment and unwittingly torment candidates in the process.

Ghosting is Nothing New

Ghosting is not a Millennial invention. The history of being ignored used to relate to the job seekers, not the talent hunters. During the Great Recession of 2007 to 2009, when unemployment reached 10 percent, many recruiters flat-out ignored their applicants. Only recently have the tables turned. Candidates and dissatisfied employees have finally found a voice, albeit a nasty one.

“For so long Management has had the upper hand,” writes Andy Rentfrow, an IT recruiter at GDI Infotech. “The labor market is so tight in most areas that if an employee feels like they are not valued—not paid well or not treated well—they are going to jump the ship ASAP; there will be a company that wants them.”

Indeed, the job market is hot. With unemployment at a record 18-year low, it hit 3.9 percent in July – there are more jobs than there are qualified candidates. If you’re unhappy with your current position, “All of a sudden there’s a greater opportunity elsewhere,” writes Luana Santos, the CEO of LJM Glass Service. “Current work struggles, bad politics, and rude superiors aren’t something [employees] are willing to put up with anymore.”

So job ghosting is becoming a commonplace practice. To avoid being ghosted, it is in employers’ best interest to find out what makes Millennials tick and what they want. If your company offers them a rewarding reason to stay, they most certainly will.

What Makes Them Tick

Millennials are redefining the American Dream. According to author David Burstein, they shy away from settling down and don’t want fancy cars or houses. Renting flats or even studio apartments is now standard as millennials cannot be sure where the next job will take them.

Contrary to the popular narrative, narcissism, laziness, and entitledness are not the reasons why Millennials “ghost” jobs. Robust job market means they have many options to choose from and are well prepared for them. Millennials are the most educated generation in history. Moreover, almost 43 percent of them expect to leave their job within two years. They anticipate change and therefore they’re ready for it.

Surprisingly, Millennials are not demanding employees. Time’s Joel Stein believes the generation is inherently “nice.” In a cover piece, he writes, “They’re earnest and optimistic. They embrace the system. They are pragmatic idealists, tinkerers more than dreamers, life hackers.”

To put it simply, they value experience over ownership and possible riches. A stunning 81 percent of potential tech hires said they would “accept a reduced compensation package if it meant they’d be able to do a job they truly loved.” More than that—they would be willing to move 600 miles for it.

So if Millennials ghost you, what does it mean?

Ghosting Points to a Bigger Problem

“The employee who left without giving notice may have been overlooked, underutilized, or unappreciated for months or years before finally walking out,” writes Stacy Warner. “In both cases, the employees probably realized that 1) nothing they could say would change the company’s culture or practices, and 2) they did not wish to invest their own time and energy into helping the company correct its failings.”

Statistics show that people are generally tired of the stuffy office jobs where they don’t feel appreciated and treated well by the company. Installing a café and giving away free avocados on Mondays is not enough to convince Millennials to stay.

The biggest reason they leave jobs is they don’t like the office atmosphere and culture. Being able to take sick or personal days features high on their list. Millennials want flexibility and to work remotely. For them, the nine-to-five routine is a mark of oppression.

The key to Millennial employees is a diverse and inclusive workforce. More than that, “If companies want to attract and keep the top talent they are going to have to pay better,” adds Rentfrow. “They are going to have to treat them like part of the family and they need to feel like they are valued members of the workforce.”

If you don’t want to lose employees and candidates to the world of freelance or your competition—you need to offer something equally seductive. Building a culture of trust and loyalty begins by making your employees feel like they are a part of a family. Companies who will keep this in mind will, no doubt, have employees who give up the ghosting.