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By Gregg Podolski, Direct Hire Manager
Whether it’s the plumber you’re trying to schedule an appointment with, your friend who you’re trying to see for dinner or your grown child who sends all your calls to voicemail and then never returns any of them, being ignored is simply not fun. It’s a total disregard for your value to the other person. By not taking five minutes to write an email or make a phone call, they’re basically saying, “You’re not worth my time.” And when it comes to the job search, that feeling is only amplified by the stakes involved.
Anybody who has ever looked for a job can likely share up to a dozen stories or more about the companies that never got back to them after an interview. (Or, my favorite, shot them a random email six months later to say they weren’t chosen. Thanks, but you probably already figured that out by yourself). What often goes unmentioned but is still a problem—and one that’s only getting worse in the current market—is candidates who ghost potential employers.
It should go without saying that neither scenario is cool. And while it’s tempting to think of the person on the other end of the equation who simply won’t call you back no matter how many poilte(ish) messages you leave as an evil, cackling monster, the reality is often far less dramatic.
Recruiters and other hiring managers are often over-worked and have many balls in the air other than the position you interviewed for. While it would be nice if they called you back or sent a short email (before 6 months have passed), the simple fact is that things fall through the cracks. They shouldn’t, but they do. Telling someone they DIDN’T get the job is easily one of the worst parts of being a recruiter, so pushing it off until it gets forgotten about is easier than most would admit. Doesn’t make it right, just makes them human.
Same thing goes for candidates who mysteriously disappear after an interview or two, despite positive feedback all around. Especially as the market becomes more and more candidate-driven, and job seekers are often juggling multiple strong offers, it isn’t uncommon for someone to just stop communicating with one or more of the companies they’re involved with. Why? Same reason: Telling people you’re no longer interested in them is hard and nobody likes to do it. So, they take the easy way out and ghost them.
You can make the argument that you never know when you might run into someone again so you shouldn’t burn any bridges, but honestly that’s a likelihood that is remote for the majority of people who do this. The better reason to pick up the phone and deliver the bad news directly is that it’s just the courteous, professional thing to do. Is it hard? Yes. Suck it up, buttercup. We’re all adults here and can handle rejection. Afraid you might forget because of all the other stuff you have to do? Write it down or set a task reminder.
Whether you’re a company or a candidate, pick up the phone or sit down at the keyboard and communicate professionally with the person you’ve been dealing with, not because you might run into them down the road, but because they’re a person and they deserve that level of respect.
Gregg Podolski, is Emerson Group’s Direct Hire Manager. Gregg works on positions in all industries including C-Level Suite, Sales, Account Management, IT and Manufacturing/Operations/Project Managers.
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