How to deal with being professionally ghosted when applying for jobs
It has been one long week since you met up and it’s all you can think about. You thought it had gone really well; you seemed to have made a connection, you’d made a big effort with your appearance, you were approachable, charismatic, transparent and you’d even cracked a few jokes. So why had you not received a call yet or even a message just to let you know how they were feeling?
A couple more days pass so you decide to type out a quick email. You make it short, sweet and to the point, you don’t want to come across as desperate. There is probably an explanation. Maybe you’re being too eager or they’ve probably got your contact information wrong- of course! They’ve been frantically trying to get in touch with you for days but they’re calling the wrong person: That must be it.
However ten emails and multiple unanswered calls later and reality hits: You’ve been ghosted. Only this time it’s not by a guy, no, this is the reality of what it’s like to be ‘professionally ghosted’.
What is professional ghosting?
Ghosting or in other words, unexplained silence, is a concept that most of us are used to experiencing in our personal lives however now the phenomena has crept into our professional ones too. With technology being the primary way that we communicate and with so much competition for jobs, companies no longer feel the need to respond to job applications, enquiries or follow ups after interviews.
Nowadays it’s more a case of, if you get a call you’ve got the job and if you hear nothing, well you get the picture. Maybe ignoring applicants calls or emails is a little easier than just dropping a line saying ‘ we’re sorry but you haven’t been successful at the this time’ but this approach can leave us job hunters feeling pretty crappy.
As with all cases of ghosting the worst part of it is that it gives you false hope. You convince yourself that you’re being impatient ‘the interview was only a year ago’, you envision yourself in your new role, telling all your friends and family, you think about the cactus that you’ll put on your desk and the clothes that you’ll buy with your first paycheck.
Eventually, a few weeks of false hope later and you get the picture ‘they’re just not that into you.’ If only they could have let you know all those weeks ago so you could have already gone through the ice cream eating phase and started the whole sorry job hunting cycle again.
Why do employers professionally ghost?
The rational behind this concept is that employers don’t want to be thought of as ‘the bad guy’. Nobody likes to be the bearer of bad news so many employers find it easier to say nothing rather than having to deliver rejection news to candidates.
Another answer is that companies are overwhelmed with job applications. You’ve probably seen those emails that say ‘ Due to a high volume of applicants we can only reply to successful applicants’. However when it comes to finding a job, no hope is better than false hope in my opinion and really, how long can it possibly take to cut and past a pre typed rejection email to unsuccessful candidates?
What should you do if you’ve been professionally ghosted?
Obviously you don’t want to harass employers but a little bit of chasing up just shows that you’re keen. Don’t just send one email and then give up, sometimes things genuinely do come up so there might be a reason they havent replied or maybe seeing which candidates really mean business might just be part of the application process.
Keep job hunting:
It’s tempting to be a bit lax with the job hunt when you’re waiting to hear back from a couple of places but be sure to keep searching until you’ve got a job secured. That way if it doesn’t work out then you still have other avenues open.
Ask for feedback:
A good way to keep communications up following an interview is by asking for feedback. Ask what went well with your application, what you could do better and if you didn’t get the job, ask why? If anything at least you can learn what you need to improve on next time.
Don’t take it personally:
There is so much competition these days when it comes to job hunting and companies are overwhelmed with overly qualified applicants, with hundreds often competing for one role. If you’re having trouble finding work don’t take it personally. It’s not a reflection on you; you don’t know how good and how much experience the people you are up against have. We can’t all get every single job that we apply for so don’t let it get you down too much.
Jobs like relationships come when you least expect them. If a company can’t spare the five minutes that it takes to write you a rejection email, do you really want to work there in the first place? Undoubtedly professional ghosting is frustrating because it’s completely out of your hands: you can’t make someone reply to your emails as much as you can’t make them give you a job.
In the meantime keep applying for work no matter how tedious and soul-destroying it may be. Keep asking questions and keep being your productive and fantastic self. Eventually you’ll find somewhere that has the courtesy to give you a call back and give you a job so, if somewhere hasn’t replied to you then learn to let it go because even if you’ve been ghosted, you’ve got to keep your spirits high.
This is the first time I am hearing about the term professional ghosting but when I actually consider it, I have experienced it several times. Thanks for sharing your story.
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Glad you enjoyed reading, good to hear it’s not just me experiencing this!