What does ten days mean to you?” ~ Bob (former client)
My client, Bob, asked that question over eight years ago. He had just wound up an interview process where the key decision-makers told him they’d be in touch with an offer in the next ten days. Needless to say, he was excited. He was looking forward to the new role and working in the company he had targeted. His question came on day 15 when he called, frustrated that he hadn’t heard a word from the company.
My response was a chuckle. I wasn’t laughing at Bob. It was a response as exasperated as his to the expectation that had not been met.
Just two weeks ago, another client called expressing similar frustration. He had reached out to a couple of folks in a targeted organization and was getting radio silence.
No response. Crickets. Nothing. Nada. Zero. Zilch.
This client (we’ll call him Sam) wasn’t making cold calls. He had been introduced to the two contacts by mutual connections and had been “given permission” to reach out. Sam actually had a conversation with one of the people he reached out to. That person promised to find out more information and to get back to him.
“What should I do?” Sam asked, “I don’t want to be a pest, but I’d really like to talk with these people.”
This lack of response, this radio silence, is the biggest complaint I’ve had throughout my work coaching people on career transitions.
They’re being ghosted.
Ghosting is when someone cuts off all communication without an explanation. While it can be an easy out for the one doing the ghosting, it’s confusing and hurtful to those being ghosted.
Ten years ago, at the height of the Great Recession, when so many people I worked with were desperate to get a new job after being laid off, ghosting was a common tactic among companies.
Clients would apply for jobs; they’d use their network and follow up; and NEVER hear back. They were frustrated and confused. They had no closure on their application effort.
Companies, at that time, were operating from a position of power. There were clearly many more applicants for a position and the company could pick and choose amongst them. They didn’t have to consider applicants’ feelings.
What Goes Around…
These days the shoe is on the other foot. Now, many companies are desperate for qualified workers. And guess what? Their biggest complaint is being ghosted by people they’ve scheduled for interviews or even made offers to. Applicants just aren’t showing up–either for the interview or for their first day of work.
It cost the company A LOT of money to recruit and onboard new talent. If that potential talent doesn’t show up, that money is wasted.
Almost weekly there’s a post by a recruiter on LinkedIn bemoaning the fact that they’re being ghosted. There’s indignation in the tone of these posts: How dare these people stand us up for an interview! How rude! What is society coming to? Don’t these people realize what their behavior is doing to their professional brand?
Karma is, indeed, a bitch.
What To Do
So what to do if you’re being ghosted by a company or a person in the company?
First, don’t personalize it. The behavior is not about you, it’s about them.
Second, find alternative ways to access an organization, don’t rely on just one person or one approach. Who else in your network can provide access? Is there a friend of a friend you can approach? You may have to make a cold call or reach out directly to the hiring manager/decision-maker. You may have to consider another company.
Third, keep in mind that the process of recruiting and onboarding new talent ALWAYS takes more time than initially figured. The company may want to have someone on board by the beginning of the year so the candidate can get a strong start. However, the more people involved in the interview and decision-making process, the longer it will take. Key people may be on travel. They may be on extended PTO, using vacation days they don’t want to lose by the end of the year. They may be tied up on a project with tight end of year deadlines. In other words, you may not be the priority you’re led to believe.
Find someone — the recruiter or the hiring manager — and keep in touch. Let them know that if you haven’t heard from them, you’ll reach out. If you haven’t heard from them when they said they’d respond, send an email or leave a voice mail along the lines of “Hi, I’m checking in to see if there’s anything else you need from me in moving forward.” Provide a gentle reminder. Be polite, persistent, and professional.
And Don’t Ghost
And above all, NEVER be the one who ghosts. Regardless of how you’ve been treated by a company, regardless of how many job offers you have, just don’t go radio silent.
Be bigger than that. Let people know your decision if you decide not to accept an offer or wish to withdraw from consideration.
Don’t be that person.
Because, you know, karma.
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