As recruiters, we often hear horror stories from both our neonatal healthcare clients and candidates.  Some of those horror stories have seemingly become more commonplace in today’s rapidly evolving job market.  Take, for example, “Ghosting.”  This term is becoming all too common in professional life.

If you are not familiar with the term, ghosting is “the practice of ending a personal relationship with someone by suddenly and without explanation withdrawing from all communication.” 1  Whether or not you are familiar with the term, you may now be wondering what it has to do with today’s job market.  Well, it turns out trends in personal and social life, like ghosting, sometimes impress upon our professional life.

In August 2019, “Indeed.com surveyed 900 employers and over 4,000 job seekers and found that 83% of companies that were recruiting said they’d been ghosted by candidates.  Nearly three-quarters (69%) of them said that this is a recent phenomenon that’s sprung up in the past two years.” 2,3

That data is consistent with information provided by John Feldmann, a Forbes Councils Member who writes: “While employees and job seekers are ghosting employers and recruiters with more frequency and less inhibition than in the past, the uncertainty of the future job market, as well as the preservation of one’s personal brand, should provide enough reason to reconsider.” 4

According to PsychologyToday.com, “People who ghost are primarily focused on avoiding their emotional discomfort, and they aren’t thinking about how it makes the other person feel…[T]he more it happens, either to themselves or their friends, the more people become desensitized to it, and the more likely they are to do it to someone else.” 5  The article goes on to say: “For many people, ghosting can result in feelings of being disrespected, used and disposable.” 6

Our Internet age, with easily accessible mobile communication, can have a dehumanizing effect.  Often people forget that their communication or lack thereof has an impact on others.  We now live in a seemingly conflict-adverse world and voicing concerns or informing an employer of a change of heart in person or over the phone may seem more intimidating than it did in the past.  If that’s the case, a brief email or text is much more acceptable and appreciated than no communication at all.

Consider how frustrating it is when you don’t hear back from a potential employer after applying or interviewing for a new neonatal job.  The “not knowing” is aggravating and confusing.  You may feel disrespected or unappreciated, and as a result, have a negative perception of the employer moving forward.  You may even tell friends, colleagues, and family members about your negative experience, and that perception may spread.  The same is true for potential employers, colleagues, and recruiters.

So, despite becoming a more common occurrence, one must ask: “Is it unprofessional to disappear during the recruitment process without communication?” 

According to an article by Bridget Miller, “Many would say yes, of course.  But with cultural perceptions shifting, those doing the ghosting may not even realize how it is perceived in the workplace.  Some people feel it is justified or at least acceptable since there is not yet a relationship in place.” 7

I realize not everyone may agree with me, but in my professional opinion as a Neonatal Nurse Practitioner recruitment specialist, regardless of shifting cultural perceptions, I feel that it is.

Here’s why.  The NICU community, specifically the Neonatal Nurse Practitioner community is tight-knit, and word of mouth reputation and one’s perceived reliability or lack thereof, could significantly impact a career in neonatal healthcare moving forward.

I think it’s important to know that recruiters and employers understand that life happens, and one can’t always control what comes their way, but in those cases, transparency is critical.  Having the ability to communicate honestly and openly about life changes or voicing concerns shows that you are not only trustworthy but worth future consideration should your circumstances change.  Moreover, even if there is no interest in revisiting the position or employer later, you are likely to cross paths with the employer or its existing employees at some point in your career.

On the other hand, what happens if you feel a potential employer or recruiter has ghosted you?

According to an excerpt from Truth and Lies: What People Are Really Thinking, “you can exercise power by requesting that the ghoster reply within a time restriction you set.  For instance, five minutes.  Alternatively, you can choose to tell them to take all the time they want or ask them how much time they need, thereby giving them your approval to control time.” 8

You may also consider reaching out to colleagues or friends in your network, or your recruiter if you’re working with one, to see if they’ve heard anything through the grapevine.  They may even be able to recommend another person to contact or follow up themselves.

It is important to keep in mind that the job market, like any market, is unpredictable.  So, no matter what side of the hiring desk you sit, it may be better to leave doors open rather than slam them shut.

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Sources:

(1) Oxford Dictionary

(2) The Ghosting Guide: An Inside Look at Why Job Seekers Disappear Indeed.com

(3)  The latest trend for job seekers: ghosting employers by Lydia Dishman, FastCompany.com

(4) “The Causes And Consequences Of ‘Ghosting’ In Today’s Job Market” by John Feldmann Forbes Councils Member

(5,6) “This Is Why Ghosting Hurts So Much” by Jennice Vilahuer Ph.D. via PsychologyToday.com.

(7) “Ghosting Is Becoming a Common Issue for Recruiters” by Bridget Miller, HRDailyAdvisor.com Contributing Editor

(8) Excerpt from Truth and Lies: What People Are Really Thinking by Mark Bowden and Tracey Thomson ©2018. Published by HarperCollins Publishers Ltd.