You'd never dream of following up with a hiring manager by texting, "You up?" But certain dating practices are seeping into the way we look for jobs, and it's not a good thing. Ghosting isn't just for dating anymore. Maybe it's because the economy is doing so well, but job applicants have apparently started ghosting employers during the hiring process.
"I can think of one instance when we had a job offer extended and we revised the offer two or three times to meet all the requests of the candidate," recalled career consultant Susan Power. "He signed off to accept it, it was a relocation, and then he just ignored and ghosted us. He didn’t relocate and start the job."
What began as a move exclusive to letting someone down easy with the least amount of effort has become a way to do the same with potential employers. The growing trend was popularly documented last month on LinkedIn, but career consultants and hiring managers say this new, non-committal form of job hunting has been on the rise for the last few years.
If they don’t owe me anything, I don’t owe them anything.
For job seekers, it is a buyer's market right now: Unemployment rates are low and people are feeling confident in their ability to get a new job offer, if not more than one. Maybe that's why workers are quitting their jobs at the fastest rate since 2001. In past years, job seekers would be happy to get just about any offer in their chosen field. Job seekers were eagerly – often desperately – waiting for any word from a recruiter or hiring manager, and frequently found themselves left in the dark as hiring managers didn't communicate that they had moved forward in the hiring process without them. Just because we expect it from companies doesn't mean it's not still ghosting. We've just already accepted it as the norm.
Now in an era of abundance, job seekers find themselves faced with learning how to professionally field multiple job offers. Enter job ghosting. Founder and CEO of Ladders Inc., Marc Cenedella believes that the workforce is finally reciprocating the lack of obligation employers have felt toward current and prospective employees. "Thirty to 35 years ago, we decided that companies don’t have an obligation to employees," Cenedella explained to Refinery29. "Today, millennials have accurately figured out that unless there’s a contract saying they owe me something, they don’t really owe me anything. So, if they don’t owe me anything, I don’t owe them anything. That sense of obligation has really gone away."
Career advice is becoming a two-way street. Just like job seekers are encouraged to find a way to make themselves stand out by connecting with their prospective employers, Power believes the same advice applies to companies looking to hire. "A lot of organizations do a poor job on the candidate experience. They don’t built a good rapport, maybe the recruiter isn’t overly communicative with the candidate about timing and process so the candidate in turn is not overly responsive," said Power.
We've entered an age where "do unto others" should be the new mantra for both companies and candidates. The world can be a small place sometimes, and good impressions go a long way. "Careers can take unexpected twists and turns. Even if you think ghosting is safe because you’re committed to pursuing another field, you cannot safely say you will never encounter the same hiring manager in another role sometime in the future," said CEO and founder of IvyWise, Dr. Kat Cohen.
So what should you do if you find yourself faced with multiple job offers? Cenedella says honesty is the best policy. "The costs of following up relative to the benefit you get is pretty reasonable. Just an email or phone call saying you’re going a different direction," Cenedella continued. "The reason people don’t is because they feel awkward or they’re not quite sure what to say. The obvious thing to say is the truth. Communication really does make you look better, so it’s better for your career to take that time."
Even if it might feel awkward at first, it's better to be remembered for turning down a job than to be remembered for leaving your once potential employer on read.