This behavior is nothing new. “It became smoke” the older ones said, not to mention the even older “twist through engagement”. In times of digital frenzy, with traditional flirting on the decline and online dating platforms booming, the younger generations just talk about ghosting.

Even the authoritative Duden Dictionary, a reference point for the German language, contains a related entry: “Ghosting” is defined as “the complete and sudden cessation of all contact, for no apparent reason.” This happens, for example, when a new acquaintance arouses expectations, but the object of desire disappears. Has he found something else? Is he afraid to explain? No one knows, after all, many times human relationships do not work according to rational criteria.

Ghosting, ‘from bad to worse’

However, similar behaviors are also manifested in work relationships. Example: The employer thinks he has found the right candidate and makes an appointment for an interview or for the first day at work, but the prospective candidate does not show up. According to a survey by the job platform Indeed for 2022, 83% of employers have encountered ghosting behaviors, while 56% agree with the finding that “the phenomenon has worsened in the past year”. 25% record a case of ghosting “at least once a month”, while 8% claim that it is a daily occurrence!

Speaking on German television (ARD), Enzo Weber, a researcher at the Nuremberg-based Labor Market Institute, points out that “in today’s Germany highly skilled workers are a rare commodity, almost as rare as in times of the ‘economic miracle'” after World War II. “Candidates are getting more job offers. And when you have a lot of suggestions, you’re happy to be able to choose one of them.”

The German analyst argues that the phenomenon will intensify in the coming years for obvious demographic reasons, as “the baby boomers retire and are succeeded by ‘Generation Z’. That’s where the serious problems in the labor market will begin.” Already today many German companies, but even public organizations such as the German Railways, resort to speed dating initiatives to attract new employees.

A lack of qualified human resources is not only observed in Germany. In the USA, the competent authorities estimate that in March 2023 the number of available jobs reached eleven million. This is a historical record.

There is also ghosting of businesses

There is, of course, another reading. In a recent survey by the online platform Linkedin, which promotes and networks professional profiles, 94% of respondents said they would “appreciate a response when sending a resume” to a company, but unfortunately only 41% actually get a response, even a negative one. When companies themselves show prospective employees that they do not want a commitment to them, they should not be surprised when they adopt similar behaviors.

Speaking to Stern magazine, Tim Verhoeven, labor market analyst, confirms this trend. “For many years ghosting was a behavior of employers, which irritated candidates who did not get a response when they sent their CV,” he points out. “Now the conditions are reversed, which is explained by developments in the labor market. Many candidates have more options, just like businesses used to have.”