Ghosting in business

I read an article in Business Insider which talked about ghosting.

Ghosting is a term typically associated with dating, especially online dating. It’s loosely defined as ceasing all communication with someone you’ve been seeing, or actively dating. Basically it’s a disappearing act performed by one person toward another.

Seems the business world is also experiencing this phenomenon.

The article talks about the challenge organizations experience when looking for a good match for a certain job. Millions are looking for work but companies are struggling with a “mismatch of skills, geographies and expectations” by prospective employees.

They want someone who ticks all of their boxes (much like the online dating world). This proves time-consuming and frustrating, leading the hiring manager to switch gears and pick someone who matches most, or many, of the desired skills.

The result is an implied labour shortage even though everyone and their grandmother seem to be looking for work right now.

They send out the invitation to interview, subsequently extend an offer of employment, only to discover they are being ghosted by the applicant who initially appeared interested in the advertised position.

Traditionally, the complaint about ghosting, or silence after a successful interview, was experienced mostly by the job applicants. I’ve been through it many times myself, the endless waiting game to get an answer, an acknowledgement, or even an outright rejection. (Let’s not even bring writing submissions into this conversation…)

Turns out, these days employers are finding that their desired, successfully matched applicant is capable of ghosting them the way they might have done to the applicant in previous years (decades).

The tables have turned.

Fascinating. Especially during this endless pandemic…

Ghosting has some real consequences for people on both sides of the bargaining table, in business and in online dating. I sometimes wonder what goes through a ghoster’s mind when he disappears without a word after a period of amicable and promising connections. I have a good friend who experienced this on a personal level and she still struggles with the “why” he disappeared from her life without a word. It triggered abandonment issues from family and a religious community she belonged to and caused her a lot of pain and anguish.

In business, where time is always money, hiring managers may not have the luxury of waiting indefinitely for an answer. Customers are relying on jobs being done, and without the position filled the employer may cut their losses and possibly lower their expectations as they embark on a new search.

For the applicant who is ghosting a prospective offer of employment, other consequences may affect their lives in the immediate future. If they were juggling multiple offers without a timely decision, they might lose out on a missed opportunity. Sometimes, they end up suffering longer-lasting psychological effects which might impact self-esteem and confidence.

Job search in your chosen career field, especially if a long-term opportunity is desired, is brutal. I’ve been through it and know all about it. But I can’t say I’ve ever ghosted a potential employer… Who does that?

Not me. But apparently, it’s a phenomen nowadays.

Here’s the article:

22 thoughts on “Ghosting in business

  1. I think it’s cowardly as well, and yes, ghosting can be harmful for anybody’s future career. Don’t forget, searching and finding a job has two sides, the employer that is looking to hire talent, and the job searcher that is looking for the right job. If you apply for a job but don’t bother to contact them because you already found something else, you essentially are ruining the chance of a potential position at that company in the future. You never know how long this new job lasts, and suddenly the company you ghosted becomes interesting again.. But you think you made a good impression on them.. Unlikely.

    If you make appointments, but you can’t attend them for whatever reason, you should have the decency to inform the other side. Thanks to this article, I can’t really believe that some people would do this, ghosting is never the right choice in my opinion.


    Liked by 1 person

  2. You make some excellent points. Its such a strange phenomenon that I’ve seen first hand in my career as of late. One theory is that the unemployment system is so backed up that due diligence is lacking and people can simply show that they had an interview and maintain their benefits. Either way, its a unique challenge businesses are beginning to face and I’m sure the impact and research opportunities will be vast in the years to come.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’ve been ghosted by potential employers and agency recruiters, which is so frustrating after you’ve put time and energy into crafting a resume, cover letter, researching the company and role, plus having a phone screen! I’ve been ghosted even after having an in-person interview…how hard is it to at least send out a canned rejection email? SMH.
    I’ve never ghosted though since I find it unprofessional; it doesn’t take much to let a hiring rep know that you’re no longer interested if they reach out.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I read that article and found it fascinating. I’ve always been grateful that I got an interview. I never considered ghosting on them, while they have no difficult ghosting on me, of course. Apparently I have better manners!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Ghosting is just rude. Period. That being said, I can’t help chuckling over the tables being turned in the business world. Not for small businesses, but large corporations who acted like employees should be grateful to have the job and give more & more for less & less… yeah, that makes me laugh.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. I was waiting on the offer that never came….they would not even return my calls to tell my what changed. That is ghosting before it was called ghosting. I think it comes from not want to deal with “sticky” emotions or situations. It has now become pervasive in areas beyond dating and job hunts.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. One of my most frustrating experiences was being ghosted by a company I had interviewed with. I thought things had gone well, but never heard back and my repeated attempts at following up were ignored.

    Ten years later, I’m left wondering if I got the job, ha.

    Hope not. The commute would be a bitch.

    Liked by 1 person

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