How ghosting has become part of the working world – and needs to stop

Originally posted on LinkedIn (January 10, 2017)

We’ve all heard of it (some of us may even admit to having done it). Sadly, ghosting has become a socially accepted and widely-practiced form of communication in the dating world. It isn’t something that should be taken lightly and can often have invisible consequences; wreaking havoc on a person’s self-esteem and perception of their own self-worth.

For those lucky few who have no idea what ghosting is, let’s refresh. Ghosting is when one person (let’s call him/her “ghoster”) cuts off all communication without any explanation following a first, second or even third date. One person (the “ghosted”) is under the impression everything went well and usually reaches out to set up another date only to be completely ignored by said ghoster.

It can even happen following the first few months of a relationship. I have a girl friend who thought her relationship was going really well only to be left in the dark after two months of bliss. She was left with a crushing feeling and unanswered questions: Was the relationship going to fast? Was he only using her until someone better came along? Did she say something wrong? Do something to piss him off? These questions went unanswered despite numerous texts, calls, and emails that were sent in a desperate attempt to understand where and when she had made some unforgivable blunder for him to treat her as persona non grata. Friends were left to help pick up the pieces, rebuilding a shattered heart and dispel obsessive thoughts that maybe she just wasn’t worth it.

It happens on a daily basis, and often with little to no remorse as the ghoster is already on the hunt for the next best thing. When you actually stop and think about it, it really is an incredibly disrespectful and hurtful thing to do to another person. And now it has become part of the corporate, working world; and it’s time it stopped.

Our economy is in a tenuous position. After a historic number of consecutive months of job growth the rocky transition to a new presidency and possibility of a near-term Recession based on weak global growth has left many millennials with an anxious feeling and open to looking for a better, more secure career. Studies by CareerBuilder & EMSI and LAEDC Kyser Center for Economic Research predicted that healthcare, professional services, and software as a service (SaaS) and technical industries would experience the fastest growth and employee mobility up through 2017. And as more and more people looked for and found jobs in the past 4 years, leading to a December 2016 reported 4.7% unemployment rate, it would seem the predictions were right. Now the millennial generation has flooded the job market as the largest and most educated generation in the labor force that the U.S. has ever seen. It seems that the U.S. economy is ripe with jobs – and the competition is steep.

Obviously recruiters and staffing agencies can list a position with a long list of requirements and still have their pick of applicants. It’s rare these days to see a professional job posting for even an entry-level position that doesn’t require a college Bachelor’s degree and at least 2 years of relevant work experience. When you go onto LinkedIn to look at a position you can see how many applicants there are; each one qualified in some way or another. I’ve seen applications for one position number in the hundreds; and that’s just the applications that have been submitted through LinkedIn and not directly through the company’s website or a third-party recruiter.

And here’s the rub. I have a fair number of friends in their early 30s currently looking to make a career move in the coming year. Many have sent dozens of resumes out into the application abyss and have never received a response except for the customary two month later “thanks but no thanks” for applying automatic email. That’s fine for a first pass. But when you finally get that call to set up an initial phone interview then the relationship between recruiter and applicant has changed.

You finally get to speak to a real person. You make a connection. You end up laughing at a funny work story and present your best self to a potential employer. At the end of the call the recruiter tells you they’d like to go to the next phase of the hiring process and have you come in for an in-person interview. This is it! You couldn’t be more elated. Then a week goes by without a word. And then a second week. You decide to reach out and see where they are in the process. Maybe work got busy? Maybe the recruiter is on vacation and hasn’t had a chance to schedule the interview? You keep the hope alive and pray your hard work and patience has paid off.

Instead, you either receive an email a week later telling you that they decided to go with another candidate and have already offered the position to that person or you don’t receive a response at all. You find out that you’ve been ghosted, except this time it has impacted the way you view yourself as a working professional. This is a hard pill you shouldn’t have to swallow.

Not only does it make a person doubt their own worth as an employee but it can make that person hesitate when applying for other positions. The thought evolves into thinking “hey, if I’m not good enough for that position why would I even imagine myself good enough for a similar position at so-and-so company.”

So, for all you recruiters and potential employers out there please take note. Any response is better than no response at all. If you’ve selected someone for an initial interview and gave any indication, whether explicit or not, that you wanted to hear more from them but then change your mind – reach out. Let that person know why you’ve decided to not move forward with their application. Give them something tangible and constructive to digest so that they can feel respected and like a valuable member of society.

Plus, you never know if this is a person you will work with or come across your personal life in the future. Why make an enemy first when you can keep the door open for a potential friend later?

One comment

  1. I’m no longer sure the place you’re getting your info, but great topic.
    I must spend some time finding out more or understanding more.
    Thank you for excellent information I was searching for this information for my mission.


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