Disappearing Act

Have you been “ghosted”? If not, you will be

Slaton White in yellow hat
"In my experience, endless rounds of interviews and corporate dithering before a new hire is offered a job are part of the problem."Michael Schearer

The first time I learned about “ghosting” (in its modern sense) was when I overheard one of my daughters say to a friend, “You mean he ghosted her? What a jerk.” I had to ask her what she meant. She explained it’s how some people end relationships now—they simply stop responding to texts, emails, and calls.

And that practice is spreading to business. Recently, I read a post on this development at blog.indeed.com by Carmen Bryant. Although her insights focus on larger companies, they certainly apply to smaller operations and retailers as well. She notes that the “trend is becoming more common in the workplace, from candidates who don’t show up for interviews to new hires bailing on their first day—even to employees who stop coming to work.”

She attributes the trend’s growth, in part, to the robust American job market. “With record-low unemployment, one explanation is too many options: 2018 marked the first time the number of U.S. jobs available surpassed the number of unemployed people. This market gives candidates the impression that if they ‘swipe left’ on one job, another that’s even better is right around the corner.”

Shifts in communication styles are a contributing factor, too. “Many employees—especially younger ones—now rely on informal, quick ways of connecting with managers and coworkers, such as instant messages, texts, or short emails. The result? Less time in face-to-face meetings or phone conversations, less practice having difficult conversations in person, and weaker bonds between employees and employers.”

She also believes that ghosting involves a breakdown in communication, which is a two-way street. “If you get ghosted, look closer at how your team and company communicate. Frequent, open communication throughout the recruiting process can help prevent cancellations and no-shows.”

In my experience, endless rounds of interviews and corporate dithering before a new hire is offered a job are part of the problem. This behavior is a hangover from the Great Recession, a time when employers had the upper hand and were too often looking for the “perfect” employee. Well, that luxury has gone the way of the great auk.

Bryant offers three ways that you can deal with ghosting. First, act fast: “If you want someone, don’t delay.” Second, be transparent: “If candidates have to wonder where they are in the hiring process, they’ll likely move on.” Third, establish a feedback loop: “Managers should keep new hires up to date on their progress.”

Sounds like a good plan to me.