3 times when ghosting is wrong

Ghosting is not in the Webster Dictionary, but we know it as when someone who says he’ll call you but never does. This happens to job seekers, recruiters, and business people. And it’s just plain wrong.

ghost hand

Last night I waited for a phone call from a person who wanted to talk with me about a possible business endeavor. He had asked to connect to see if we could be of assistance: “share blogs and investigate a join (he meant joint) venture relationship.” He didn’t call.

Essentially he had ghosted me and it left a bad taste in my mouth. It made me think of when people get ghosted like I had. There are three obvious times that come to mind.

When job seekers are ghosted

Too many of my clients talk about how they were supposed to get a call from a recruiter or hiring manager. They set time aside waiting for the much-anticipated call, canceled their plans of attending their child’s event, missed a networking meeting they had set up, or had to pass on a seminar they were looking forward to.

They prepared for the call; had their documents ready, prepared their talking points, cleared the house so there would be silence. This job was a perfect match for them. They met all the requirements and had heard great things about the company.

The call never came.  Why, they ask me later? I don’t know what to say other than tell them to call the recruiter or send an email, reminding him of the phone call they were supposed to have. After weeks of waiting the only thing they can do is move on. The job seekers have been ghosted.

I hesitated to connect with the ghoster, fearing this might be a bait and switch. Nonetheless, I accepted his invite. In his reply, he explained his business model and asked if I’d like to have a phone conversation with him. The next day I reply telling him of my limited time. He said he wanted to go forward with a phone conversation.

When recruiters are ghosted

Ghosting is a two-way street. I’ve spoken with and read of recruiters who have been ghosted by job seekers. They were supposed to have a phone conversation with a promising candidate, but the job seeker didn’t call or answer their phone at the agreed time.

The recruiters most likely set some time aside on their schedule to have the phone calls. They were excited at the prospect of presenting a blue-chip software engineer to their client.

The recruiters waited and even called the candidates to remind them of their conversation. “My client likes what I told them about you,” the recruiters wrote in a text. “Please call me as soon as you can.”

Much to the recruiters’ chagrin, the candidates never called or even had the decency to return their text. In some cases candidates don’t show up for work after they were offered the job. The recruiters were ghosted. The employers were also ghosted.

One recruiter shared a post on LinkedIn in which she said that 13 out of 15 candidates she set up for interviews didn’t even show for them. Read the post here. Imagine that. They didn’t show without explanation.

Jump forward to last night, I’m waiting for this person’s phone call. I have my laptop open to his profile, to get a sense of who he is and his business. The time of our call comes and goes. I send him a LinkedIn message reminding him of our call.

Shortly later I receive his reply verbatim: “I apologize for a client call came up. I had a chance to think about our pre-holiday conversation. I don’t see a lot of synergies in our business for referrals….

When business people are ghosted

The problem with ghosting potential business partners is that you lose credibility. Your reputation is on the line; and as they say, “It’s a small world.” If you decide there’s no “synergy in our business” days before a scheduled call, do the proper thing; call that person.

A good friend of mine who is in sales told me that he’s been ghosted a couple of times. He said when this happens, it’s the other person’s loss. Yes, my friend’s time is valuable. Yes, he might have other plans. Yes, waiting by the phone and seeing time pass sucks. My friend has a good memory.

Whether you’re a job seeker, recruiter, or business person; don’t ghost people with whom you want to engage with. It’s not the right thing to do.

Photo: Flickr, صالح المقيبل


4 thoughts on “3 times when ghosting is wrong

  1. vlbrown

    Once in a while, it’s actually a good thing.
    I had someone contact me, out of the blue, to talk about working with them on documentation. Then they were visiting the San Francisco area and set up a meeting. Then there was a second meeting.
    I was unsure about working with them, but they were persuasive (pushy). I suggested a rate. They countered with a lower rate but a guaranteed number of hours.
    I still wasn’t sure. They sent me a sample doc. I wrote back that it wasn’t a good fit. They suggested a different approach.
    I was having trouble finding a way to politely get rid of them. And then… they vanished. Contact stopped. They disappeared.

    I was actually relieved.


    1. Things Career Related Post author

      It’s funny that you tell this story, Vicki. I was also relieved when the person in my story ghosted me. I left this bit of information out because I didn’t think it was relevant. Thanks for the comment. It’s been awhile, my friend.


  2. Bob Davidson

    Barring unforeseen circumstances, no-showing, or “ghosting,” if you will, an employer on an agreed start date is dead wrong. Period. ‘Nuff said there.

    I also understand it is unreasonable to expect recruiters and employers to acknowledge receipt of resumes and apps. It is also unreasonable to call them and expect them to fish out one’s resume from the legions of resumes they receive to look at it.

    Otherwise, for all the time I have worked and employers and recruiters not calling as promised, not returning calls, not being courteous enough to inform me they have rejected me and not being truthful with me about my candidacies, it is high time these people took a taste of their own medicine. They want sympathy but do not deserve it.


    1. Things Career Related Post author

      Well said, Bob. As usual, you’re on point. Recruiters, job seekers, and employers need to show respect to each other. But I would say job seekers tend to get the raw deal more often. Thanks for you thoughts.



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