Ouch! Being “ghosted” — stood up, abandoned, or disappeared on — in a personal relationship is no fun. And though the term itself is a relatively recent entry in the pop-culture lexicon, ghosting has been practiced in the dating scene and beyond likely for eons.
But what about ghosting in the professional realm, whether bailing on an interview, ignoring a job offer, or seemingly disappearing into thin air? It’s the equivalent of standing someone up on a date and could scare off other potential employers, negatively impacting your future career prospects.
Turning down a job you don’t want can feel like an uncomfortable conversation to have, and with myriad offers in this robust job market, you may dismiss the need to communicate with employers. But here are four reasons it matters:
- Ghosting shows a lack of respect. Folks have invested resources such as time and money to build a relationship with you. When you disappear and don’t communicate, it shows a lack of appreciation for those efforts and a lack of respect for those who invested in you.
- Ghosting burns bridges. It may not be immediately apparent, but you might need someone as a reference down the road. If you’ve ghosted them, you may have lost that chance. People don’t forget those that have behaved rudely toward them.
- Ghosting can lead to awkward situations. You never know whom you’ll end up working with in the future, sharing a panel with at a conference or on a committee, or facing across an interview table. If you’ve ghosted them in the past, you’re in for one uncomfortable conversation.
- People talk, word gets out. Whomever you ghosted will likely share the experience with their colleagues, and word could spread through your industry. With social media — especially LinkedIn— you could also end up with a comment on your public profile that outs your bad behavior. Remember, employers often explore LinkedIn profiles before contacting potential candidates.
So how can you navigate the flood of offers and keep your professional reputation intact? By reaching out gracefully, without confrontation. The best course is by phone or email, simply stating, “Thank you for your offer. I appreciate it but have decided to go in a different direction at this time.”
That’s it. The employer then knows you’re not interested, and that’s OK. It’s just business — nothing personal. The company will understand and move on. And your potential “bridge” to that business or contact remains solid.
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