Ghosting is Payback for Crickets

LinkedIn member, CEO Bernie Reifkind of Premier Search, Inc. shared a post last week of a recent executive placement Bernie initiated. The recruit didn’t hit it off with the new employer after 30 days. The recruit ghosted the employer by not showing up to work anymore. The recruit didn’t return emails or phone calls from the employer. Bernie contacted the now-former-employee and reported “... he simply received a better offer. And he admitted to ghosting his my [sic] client/employer.... His justification? “Job loyalty doesn’t exist anymore.”

Several end-of-the-year LinkedIn posts and articles have highlighted the new norm of “ghosting” by job applicants. Just five years ago, it would be unheard of that a job applicant would skip a job interview without notice. I perceive the new trend of job hires not showing up for the first day of work – and not calling the new employer – as inconceivable just two years ago.

“I felt very empowered that I knew I could walk away from something that made me feel uncomfortable, and given the market, I could stand a chance to find something else”

Is this ghosting a consequence of social media and the current languid social habits of communicating thumb-to-screen instead of face-to-face and voice-to-voice? Blocking, ghosting, ignoring, and unfriending are extremely easy and convenient today. Not much energy or risk is necessary to communicate via text through our device. People feel isolated from the consequences of a potentially difficult human interaction with the power of ignoring.

(How many times have members of the LinkedIn community ignored pressing “Ignore” to a connection request? Is ignoring an "ignore" a type of ghosting?)

In my opinion, this behavior is encouraged by the long standing practice of some employer's ghosting applicants. As a person was quoted in the December 18, 2018 Washington Post article, These Workers Quit Their Jobs Without Two-weeks Notice, “At least four times, I’ve never heard back from an employer (even after email & phone follow-ups) following an interview, which seems to have gone well,”...“It’s no wonder employees just walk out one day and never look back.”

We use to refer to the practice of silence by another as “hearing crickets chirp”. It was not (is not) uncommon for some employers to ignore applicants after an interview process had been conducted. The application experience of hearing crickets has contributed to the experience of ghosting of employers.

Additionally, many employees live under the reality they can be laid-off at any time, even when a company is doing well financially. There exists an implied fairness that if an employee can be laid-off immediately without notice, then the employee can leave at any time without notice.

A strong job market can make many feel empowered not to play nice with employers. As Gabrielle Papa was quoted in the Wall Street Journal on December 19, 2018 after ghosting an employer at a scheduled employment interview, “I felt very empowered that I knew I could walk away from something that made me feel uncomfortable, and given the market, I could stand a chance to find something else”. As recruiters point out, it is the company that is empowered in a weak job market and memories by recruiters or HR departments can be very, very long.

I have seen many of the recent ghosting article and post mention the words “loyalty”, “respect”, “rudeness”, “consequences”. Many writers point to these keywords as the reasons why ghosting should not be done. I agree that everyone, every company, will be better if all involved cultivated dependability, showed respect, acted civil, and understand life has consequences. I offer the Golden Rule as a means to make actionable these keywords for the benefit of all participants in the job market.

I bring to a client my work ethic through TEMA IV, LLC. That work ethic is based on The Golden Rule. I will put effort into treating people (and employers/clients) as I want to be treated. That is, I will work and help as I want someone to work or help me when I pay them. My yes means yes and my no means no. I won’t avoid the difficult conversations using ghosting to feel comfortable. Treating others as you want to be treated is a good guide for how people should treat each other and the employer/employee they contact.

Socially and financially, we will all be better off using this concept of mutual treatment and have the strength to engage uncomfortable situations.