Pattie Hunt Sinacole discussed “ghosting”

A reader asks about "ghosting"

Ask the Job Doc.

Q:  I am a job hunter.  I have applied for several different jobs in my field.  Just yesterday, I received an offer of employment.  I asked for the offer to be put in writing.  They emailed me an offer letter.  I asked to speak to the hiring manager about goals, expectations, etc., because our interview got cut short when I was there a few weeks ago.  After a few days of telephone tag, we were supposed to catch up by phone but that never happened.  Additionally. the offer letter was very brief and did not discuss a start date, benefits or even the onsite/remote component. The hybrid schedule was discussed during our interview. We had discussed two days being remote, as I drop my son off at day care two days per week.  Now silence.   I can’t get in touch with HR, the external recruiter or the hiring manager.  I guess this is called “ghosting” these days.  What am I supposed to do?


A:  I hate to read a question about a poor candidate experience.  Employers can be short-sighted.  Candidates and employees have a plethora of online forums, where they can post negative feedback.  It would only take one phone call, or even an email to communicate this employer’s decision.  With unemployment in Massachusetts hovering around 3%, employers need to provide a positive candidate experience for all candidates, whether the candidate is selected or not.  When we conduct candidate searches on behalf of a candidate, we try to get back to every candidate via a phone call or email.  Sometimes we reach a “this number is not in service” or an email bounce back.  In these rare instances, we have no way of updating a candidate.    

We will never know what happened at this employer.  Sometimes there are lots of stops and starts, some of which may not even be related to you.  Maybe the role was put on hold?  Maybe they hired someone else?  Maybe they promoted an employee internally?  Maybe the company expects to be acquired?  Regardless, the employer or the recruiter should have contacted you.


Ghosting has become more common.  Ghosting is when one party (which could be an employer or an individual) withdraws from the relationship with little warning or explanation.  From what I understand, it first became a practice in dating relationships.  For example, one person texts another asking to meet on a Saturday night, and they both agree to meet. Then, one person (it could be either), doesn’t show up, and doesn’t communicate that information to the other person.  Your situation is similar.  You followed up, as any candidate is expected to do, and this employer didn’t respond.  Now you are left with no information.  It is a confusing way to end a relationship, even if it is a candidate/employer relationship.  It seems unprofessional and unkind.

My recommendation would be to move on.  You probably were spared.  It does not sound like this employer cares about candidates, which may transfer to how they treat employees.  I would continue your search.  Though this may not have prevented what you experienced, I always recommend asking an employer or the recruiter, about the next steps.  It is acceptable, as a candidate, to ask that question.  It demonstrates interest.


Continue your search and hopefully you land a role in a company which values both candidates and employees.      


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