You’re probably thinking: “Ghosted again? What am I doing wrong?”
You might be familiar with the concept of ghosting when it comes to online dating. The thing is, it can happen when you’re job-hunting too. In this case, ghosting – or “leaving you hanging” in this article – is when a recruiter or hiring manager ceases communication with you without any notice, reason or feedback.
In truth, this is somewhat of a common occurrence, with a 2021 survey by Indeed noting that 77% of job-seekers found themselves left hanging by recruiters. And it can be a demotivating and frustrating experience, especially when you’ve already put in the effort to apply for the position.
Here’s where we can help you navigate this situation. While you can’t control the employers (and recruiters, by extension), you can control your reactions and next steps.
But if you’ve had a phone interview, acknowledgement email, or even video or in-person interviews (in other words, you were in the middle of the recruitment process, or even near the ending stages), that is leaving you hanging out there to dry. And it isn’t even a new phenomenon, because according to the same survey by Indeed mentioned earlier, 77% of jobseekers were left hanging by recruiters despite their apparent interest in you.
Important things you need to know
Before we go any deeper, you need to understand whether you’ve actually been left hanging. For example, although being left with no response to your application and resume stings, that doesn’t count as being left out there. Instead, most generally agree that you’ve been left hanging when your recruiter just goes quiet after two-way contact has been made. For example, when your hiring manager suddenly ceases all contact with you and drops off the face of the earth, despite being well into the recruitment process, or even after a round of interviews.
Because of this, it can be hard to figure out if you’ve been left high and dry, or the hiring process is taking longer than expected due to internal company issues.
Red flags that show you're left hanging out to dry
The best way to check on this is to look through your emails or notes – if contact was made over the phone – for any indication of a timeline. If you have one, wait a few days after the recruiter said they’ll get back to you, and send a follow-up email.
If you don’t have any timeline to work off, you can turn to the company website or feedback forums like Glassdoor. Peruse them for approximate timelines of their typical recruitment process. Otherwise, wait two weeks from your last point of contact, and send a follow-up email then.
“I’m very sure I was ghosted. What do I do now?”
If you’ve waited about two weeks from your last point of contact, the chances you’ve been ghosted is pretty high. But don’t immediately dial up your potential employer to demand answers! Instead, you can consider sending them a follow-up email. However, keep in mind that your email shouldn’t be pushy or belligerent. Also, avoid spamming your recruiter’s inbox with email after email – a couple of them are plenty enough. However, don’t be surprised if you never hear back from your recruiter.
In other scenarios (though not as often), the recruiter may have moved on to another role without informing you. If that’s the case, you can reach out to their replacement. Introduce yourself in the email, be clear on the role you’ve applied for and be polite when asking them about your status in the recruitment process.
Moving on post-experience
Being left hanging unexpectedly by a recruiter for a role that you’re really interested in can leave you feeling angry, frustrated and with a dent in your confidence. After all, being ghosted is often about as good as a sign that you were rejected for the role. Take the time to work through those unpleasant and negative feelings. And when you’re done, give up on the recruiter…but don’t forget them. You never know – you may receive an apology email one day. But even if you don’t, you at least know who to look out for in the future (and perhaps avoid)!
But most importantly, don’t pick up on this behaviour. When people talk about “paying it forward”, this isn’t what they mean! It’s not a good habit to have, and it can have serious consequences in the long run.
Prevent this from happening again in the future
As soon as you’re back in the job hunt and are working with a new recruiter, you can work to minimise your chances of being left hanging again.
Start by asking your recruiter for a timeline you can follow, stick to it, and keep track of your correspondence with them. In addition, ask the recruiter if you can follow-up with them on other preferred methods of communication, whether it’s over email or WhatsApp.
The experience of being ghosted is often a disheartening one, especially if you really wanted the job. But life moves on, and instead of pausing your search and letting this negative experience eat away at you, give yourself time to grieve. After that, focus on your next step and put your energy back into your job search. As long as you keep at it with your head held high, you’ll eventually find the job you’re best suited for, complete with a recruiter who really wants you there!