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The Job Hunt: How to Respond When You’re the Victim of ‘Ghosting’

The Job Hunt: How to Respond When You’re the Victim of ‘Ghosting’

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Start a management degree at American Public University.

By Dr. Marie Gould Harper
Program Director, Management at American Public University

This is the first of two articles on improper job interview issues.

Unfortunately, “ghosting” during the job interview process is on the rise. And it has nothing to do with this Halloween season.

What is “ghosting”? In today’s social media parlance, “ghosting” is the practice of ignoring emails, calls or texting queries from some organization or someone with whom you previously had contact. Your questions, comments and other communications suddenly go unanswered.

Advertising and tech industry recruiter Jane Ashen Turkewitz has developed an excellent, concise checklist of organizational behavior to watch for the next time you go through the interviewing process. She defines ghosting as:

  1. You’ve already done multiple interviews and perhaps completed sample tasks for them;
  2. They were previously responding to your emails;
  3. You’ve sent multiple polite emails or made multiple phone calls for about a month after your last interview, and no one has responded to any of them.
  4. You’ve given up on the job and are ready to move on.

We have so many articles and books on what to do before, during and after the interviewing process to ensure that we have put our best foot forward. However, what do we do when it is the organization that is displaying the unprofessional behavior? Do we have any recourse?

Call Out Unresponsive Organizations and Hold Them Responsible

Turkewitz suggests calling these organizations out. Hold them accountable for their bad behavior. What do you have to lose? They have decided that they do not want to proceed with you and aren’t courteous enough to close the loop with some sort of final response.

Approximately three months ago, Turkewitz wrote a post on LinkedIn that went viral in which she advocated standing up for yourself when you’ve been ghosted. Her post received over 1,000 likes and 300 comments.

Being on the Receiving End of Ghosting Can Be a Traumatic Experience

So don’t feel ashamed or alone because there are others out there who’ve experienced the same rude treatment. People who have been ghosted tend to feel helpless, unsure of what went wrong and they often try to figure out what they said or did wrong. It can be a traumatic experience, all the more so especially when you didn’t do anything wrong.

My thoughts on ghosting are:

  • Don’t assume that an organization with excellent branding has employees who have been exposed to proper etiquette. Not everyone has good manners or knows what appropriate protocol is. There is an expectation that you be on your best behavior, but what about theirs?
  • Sometimes you don’t know where the breakdown in the process occurred. Was it the hiring manager or the HR department that dropped the ball? Was it an intentional act?
  • Don’t stoop to their level. For some, there is a natural urge to seek revenge. Don’t waste your time by allowing a situation to alter your character. Stay true to you. If anything, consider writing a professional post on the corporate bulletin board site Glassdoor about the experience. Think of it as doing a good deed by alerting potential candidates to possible scenarios from that employer. I would have stopped reaching out after Turkewitz’s step 2. When their communication stopped, my communication would have stopped. Move on!
  • Count it as a blessing. Do you really want to work for some entity that has exhibited that type of behavior during the initial process? Can you imagine what it would be like if you were offered the job? The grass is not always greener on the other side.

Sometimes, we want doors opened that should remain shut. Chalk it up as a learning experience and ease on down the road to that next opportunity that awaits you

Start a management degree at American Public University.

About the Author

Dr. Marie Gould Harper is the Program Director of Management at American Public University. She holds an undergraduate degree in psychology from Wellesley College, a master’s degree in instructional systems from Pennsylvania State University and a doctorate in business from Capella University. She is a progressive coach, facilitator, writer, strategist and human resources/organizational development professional with more than 30 years of leadership, project management, and administrative experience. Dr. Gould Harper has worked in both corporate and academic environments.

Dr. Gould Harper is an innovative thinker and strong leader, manifesting people skills, a methodical approach to problems, organizational vision and ability to inspire followers. She is committed to continuous improvement in organizational effectiveness and human capital development, customer service and the development of future leaders.

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