So you’ve started to job hunt and you’ve upped your networking game to include at least 3 business related engagements a month.
You’ve recently attended a local networking event and by fate, you run into the hiring manager of a company you’ve been interested in working for, for years. You don’t want to appear too eager, but you also know that opportunities like this don’t happen very often. So you gather your courage and strike up a conversation.
That night you replay the whole encounter over and over again in your mind. You’re certain the conversation went great. You were polite and engaging without being overbearing. The hiring manager even asked that you email him the following week to set up a meeting to talk about an employment opportunity. You couldn’t be more pleased.
You wait a couple of days to follow up and then you send him a polite email of inquiry. You also provide him with a few dates and times that might work for the both of you to get together. A week or ten days goes by. You hear nothing. You’re not too worried, as who among us has not been overwhelmed with work? You’re sure he’s just really busy.
You send a follow up email, confident that you will hear back from him in a couple of days. Another week or so goes by. Now you’re starting to get concerned. At this point, you want to be persistent, but you don’t want to come off looking like a pest. So you wait a few more days and send a third email. You just want to let him know that you understand how hectic his schedule is and you’d be happy to come to a location near his office for his convenience. Two more weeks go by. You hear nothing. It is possible that something terrible has happened to him or his family, or he left the company. Making the assumption that he is still employed there and all is well, you’ve come to the conclusion that you probably aren’t going to hear from him at all. Essentially, you’ve been ghosted.
The Urban Dictionary defines the term ghosted as, “when a person (male or female) leads on another person into thinking they’re interested in them. After leading on this individual they “ghost” them and disappear. This is usually indicated from no responses through text, phone call or email.”
Normally reserved for social encounters, especially among the millennial generation, the term ghosted can and does apply to business encounters.
So what’s going on? This type of behavior is happening so often that it’s becoming a cultural norm with its own definition.
According to Maya Borgueta, Psy.D, there are many psychological reasons why someone ghosts. At its core, ghosting is avoidance and often stems from fear of conflict. Which means, at its heart, ghosting is about wanting to avoid confrontation, avoid difficult conversations, and avoid hurting someone’s feelings.
Unfortunately, the act of ghosting often leaves the recipient more confused and angrier than ever. And in the business world, those who ghost are often remembered as unprofessional, unreliable and disinterested in the feelings of others.
This label may be a deterrent to some. However, because the act of ghosting has become so prevalent, those who ghost often don’t receive any type of negative consequence for their behavior.
So what should you do if you have been ghosted? What about that hiring manager who never responded? First, it’s important to remember that his behavior is about him and not about you. While it’s probable that you were not the right fit for the job or the job was filled by a more qualified candidate, he still owed you a proper and timely response.
Second, don’t let the bad behavior of others stop you from pursuing your dreams. Continue to network and look for new opportunities.
Third, leave the door open, even to those who have disrespected you. At some point, you may be able to model your own good behavior and help teach them what it means to be a true professional. Nobody likes to give someone bad news or tell someone that they aren’t the right fit for a job. But giving and receiving rejection is a part of doing business.
Most importantly, don’t be that person. Say what you mean, and mean what you say. If you can’t follow through on a commitment, let people know with as much advanced notice as possible. Always apologize and reschedule if possible.
If you say you’re going to call or email someone, then do it. Be a person of integrity and you’ll be remembered for it. Ghosting may be a part of today’s modern society but that doesn’t mean you have to buy into the trend. Be your own person and you’ll get there, one networking opportunity at a time.