And just like that, it’s October 2020, and if you thought this year couldn’t get scarier, think again. Recruiters are still being ghosted as they try to wrangle secret squirrels, and they can now add asking candidates to switch companies during a pandemic to their recruiting horror stories.

Ghosting is nothing new: A 2019 Indeed poll surveyed 4,000 job seekers and nearly 900 employers across industries, and 83% of employers saying they have experienced being ghosted by a candidate. Among candidates, 18% admitted to ghosting a recruiter at some point during the hiring process.


Ghosting is a growing social trend,  and it has seeped into the social component of the  cleared recruitment process, even though it is frustrating to both candidates and recruiters.

Although the U.S. unemployment rate has grown thanks to COVID-19’s affect on the economy, the national security industry remains mostly insulated. This means that skilled and qualified talent can choose where they want to work, when they want to leave, and be hard negotiators through the interview process.

The ball being in the candidate’s court, along with slow hiring times, the ongoing onslaught of new opportunities, and just non-communicative candidates are other reasons for the ghosting phenomenon. You won’t be able to halt these dropouts completely but you can certainly spot the red flags while engaging with candidates.


1. They have to ‘check with family’ first.

Having to check with their family on relocating is one thing, but having to check with your spouse, your brother, your mother, and your dog on even entertaining a new opportunity is usually a candidate putting off shutting down an offer.

2. No time is ever convenient.

If you work through an initial phone screen and are ready to move the candidate forward in the hiring process, that usually means a phone call with the team lead/program manager, or a video call with some of the staff. It’s not unusual to face scheduling obstacles, and you can’t expect candidates to put their current job or obligations at risk to get hired. But if you have potential candidates who make it extraordinarily complicated to get that first interview scheduled, it could be that they aren’t interested in the opportunity.

3. They are too cool for you, your offers, or emails.

Getting an official job offer is something that should be celebrated. If you have jumped through the hoops of the interview process, getting government approval of the resume, checking on their clearance, and running through salary negotiations, you’d hope that nailing down a start date would be the easy part. But if you’ve made it clear that an offer is on the way, and the candidate won’t lock in that start date, it’s a sign that person doesn’t necessarily want the job. The motivation just isn’t there.

4. They had that loving feeling – but lost it.

Not answering emails is one thing – some candidates (especially passive ones) aren’t on their personal email all day checking on potential employers. But if you’ve been texting back and forth with this candidate and it’s starting to sound like a one sided conversation on some simple communications like ‘can we touch base?’ – just move on.

Steps TO PREVENT IT Ghosting From Your Candidates

Keep up the communication in a timely fashion and be transparent with candidates. Ask meaningful questions about their motivations so you get a sense for what they care about and their serious timelines for making the switch to a new employer. Implement hiring processes at your company that are structured and organized, with realistic job descriptions. Lastly, be sure to promote a positive company brand and have an individual brand that candidates will feel bad about leaving in the dust without a response. That way your dreams being crushed aren’t necessarily your fault. They hope for all of these things in a recruiter, so hopefully they will just let you know ‘it’s not working out’ instead of standing you up.


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Katie Keller is a marketing fanatic that enjoys anything digital, communications, promotions & events. She has 8+ years in the DoD supporting multiple contractors with recruitment strategy, staffing augmentation, marketing, & communications. Favorite type of beer: IPA. Fave hike: the Grouse Grind, Vancouver, BC. Fave social platform: ClearanceJobs! 🇺🇸