Professional Ghosting

Ghosting is becoming increasingly prevalent in our society. But what started off as a way to turn down a date in the hopes they “got the hint” that you were no longer interested has since transferred to the professional world as well.

Right now, it’s a candidate’s market – there are more jobs out there than there are unemployed individuals, so simple supply and demand tells us that a candidate has quite a few job options to choose from. But what do they do with all the other offers that they ultimately decide are not for them? Some candidates will cease all communication with the other companies, never to return the recruiters emails or phone calls.

It’s not just candidates though who do this – it’s companies too. It happens on both sides. What do companies do with the candidates they take through their interview process but don’t end up hiring? Some of them will also cease all communication, never telling the candidate that they decided to go in a different direction.

But professional ghosting is also still not specific to the recruiting and hiring process. Prospects will ghost you. Sales representatives will sound interested in your business only to never follow back up.

At the end of the day, professional ghosting is a problem across the board in the business world, pointing to a deeper problem that is at the root of all this ghosting.

We don’t want to put ourselves in an awkward situation of turning someone down. People will say that ghosting happens because you don’t want to hurt someone else’s feelings, but is that really true? It’s more that we don’t like the feeling we have while we’re turning someone down rather than being sensitive to someone else’s feelings. It sounds harsh, but it’s true.

Is telling someone you’re no longer interested the best conversation you’re going to have that day? Absolutely not. In fact, it’s straight up awkward and uncomfortable. But isn’t it better to give clarity that you’re not moving forward than to leave the other person wondering for awhile until they realize they’ve just been ghosted? We want people to be honest with us, and receiving a no can actually be a good thing. You know that door is closed and you don’t have to put any more valuable time and energy into it. You can focus your attention on what is going to propel you forward.

So the next time you’re not interested in something or someone – whether it’s in your professional or personal life – instead of just ignoring it and waiting for it to go away, ask yourself if that’s the most mature way to handle the situation. Instead face the slightly uncomfortable moment, politely decline, and move on.


By Allison Walke, Talent Acquisition & Onboarding