Imagine you’ve met someone new. You’ve become pretty friendly, gotten to know the person relatively well, and started texting or calling one another regularly. You've begun to build a relationship with one another and develop a rapport. You feel like everything’s going really well, and that maybe this could lead to something great in the near future.
Until suddenly…………… nothing.
Your regular communications with this person who you thought was so special are suddenly nonexistent. You’ve been completely shut out, and the person isn’t answering your emails or texts. You’re being ignored on all fronts.
Raise your hand if that sounds familiar. Uh yeah, me too. And probably for most of us.
That very awkward situation is commonly known as ghosting, and is usually reserved for interactions with an individual you’ve been dating. Luckily for us, it can also occur by potential employers! In other words, you can be professionally ghosted. Because applying for a new job doesn’t feel enough like diving into a blackhole as it is.
Ghosting adds a whole new layer of stress to the job search, which I know from experience. Around the start of the new year, I was looking to make a career change to a different industry, and began putting out feelers and applying for roles that sounded interesting. Through the power of networking, I ended up connecting with a recruiter at a particular company whose brand I really identified with and was passionate about, and felt had a mission statement that resonated with my own.
I was beyond excited, given my genuine respect and admiration for the company combined with the fact that the recruiter seemed equally enthusiastic about the idea of me working for them in the near future.
We exchanged multiple emails. I sent her my resume. We chatted on the telephone. She connected me with other individuals in the company who were in my area to discuss potential partnerships and collaborations. This recruiter even told me she had written my name in her notebook of future hires and was going to reach out when she saw some soon-to-be-available positions open up that she imagined me being the perfect fit for.
And then, without warning, the recruiter suddenly stopped communicating with me. Stopped emailing me and stopped responding to any messages from me. Like a failed date, I went through all the emotions:
Was it me?
Did I say something wrong?
Was I suddenly less talented or experienced than I thought?
Did something change to make me less desirable as a types of future employee that such a company might want on their team?
And this happened to me far more times than my ego would care to admit, with other recruiters, at different companies.
But what I’ve come to learn after chatting with individuals in recruitment and hiring is that it’s not me. And it’s likely not you! Sometimes a company’s situation or hiring needs change, and sometimes the recruiter isn’t in a position to tell you that — or plain ol’ doesn’t want to — whether that’s because of a jam-packed schedule or due to lack of knowing how to handle a potentially awkward farewell.
All we can do is try not to take it personally. It’s not personal — it’s business. And sometimes that includes rejection.
So, don’t let professional ghosting discourage you. Speaking with recruiters or other individuals at companies you’re enthusiastic about is still a solid way to get name recognition and help facilitate an eventual career change. Stay true to yourself and seek to make sincere professional connections, and if someone stops answering your email… move on. Ain’t nobody got time for that.
Joelle is a writer, editor, and registered yoga teacher living in southern California with a passion for celebrating the messiness of life through storytelling. She holds a MA in Journalism from New York University and loves a well-written sentence, brunch, and staying active. To read more of her writing, visit her website www.joellezarcone.com.