Being ghosted describes a conversation where one of the participants simply stops communicating without saying “Bye”, etc. They simply go silent, or disappear. Amazingly, the place it’s easiest to find is during job hunting (or hunting for someone to fill a position).
Back in the age of the dinosaur (or at least the fax machine), it was common courtesy to tell a Human Resources person or recruiter that you were no longer interested in their position. Even if this happened by email, you did it. If they treated you well during the process, you might even tell them why you’re heading another direction.
Likewise, it was also common courtesy for a recruiter or Human Resources person to tell all their candidates that their position had either been filled or they’d closed the position for some other reason.
When a job candidate decides they don’t want or need your open position, many simply stop communicating with you. The same behavior has become common for recruiters and HR people when they lose interest in a candidate, fill a position, or decide not to hire. The ghosted party hears “radio silence“.
Rude, inconsiderate, selfish, etc.
I find this simply remarkable, not to mention rude, inconsiderate, selfish, stupid, lacking in vision … you get the idea.
You’ll hear excuses from both groups including these:
“We don’t have time to connect with each candidate to tell them the position is filled.”
“I don’t have time to contact each recruiter / company to tell them I’ve taken another position or have lost interest in their opening.”
Horse biscuits. Weak, lazy, excuses.
When ghosting is a good idea
Here’s where it might be a good idea for a recruiter / HR person to ghost someone:
If you never want to have a conversation with that candidate ever again, nor a business they might someday own, nor with anyone they know.
Why? Because many of them are going to tell all of their family, peers, and friends that they were ghosted – and who did it. You can presume that the reputation of your recruiting firm or your company are going to be stained by this behavior. In the meantime, unplug the resume scanner and start working with candidates like a real person – if you want to hire real people rather than the presentation version of someone.
Here’s where it might be a good idea to ghost a recruiter or HR person:
Even if they did things during the selection process that were illegal or stupid (ie: “Are you and your spouse planning to start a family?”), wave good bye. If you feel particularly gracious, tell them why. Remember, the person you’re dealing with might be forced to perform in that way. While it doesn’t mean it’s right, they may need that job for now. You never know where your paths might cross again in the future.
In the best of situations, if you explain why you don’t feel the position is a fit, at least they’ll know. Depending on what you tell them, you may find that they have another opening that makes more sense.
Why do they ghost you?
Sometimes, we get ghosted even if we didn’t seem to do anything wrong – or so we thought.
Does someone call & leave a message? Call them back. If you email them because you don’t like to talk on the phone – you’re asking to be ghosted.
Did they email to ask a question about your product? Email them a reply that fits their question. If you call them, “handwave” their question, then dive into your standard pitch, expect to be ghosted.
Solution: Return the communication using the medium they used unless they specifically ask for something different.
People do sometimes email or text and ask you to call. Maybe they remembered they want to talk to you and don’t want to forget to ask for a call, but can’t talk right then. They could be sitting at a long stop light and suddenly realize they need what you sell (so they quickly send a text before the light changes, asking you to call sometime).
When you first connect with a contact, ask them what their preferred method of communication is. If it’s by phone or text, ask them the best time of day. You want to ask for a phone appointment during that time, not when you feel like it, or when your tickler went off.