Don’t ‘ghost’ an employer – do this instead

Ghost an employer

Here are some ways you can say "no thanks" with respect – and set yourself up for future success.

With unemployment at an all-time low, there’s no denying it’s a job seeker’s market. Gone are the days when employers had the upper hand and could leave job seekers hanging for days or weeks – often never to be heard from again.

If you’re a job seeker, it may be tempting to “ghost” a prospective employer – disappear from the hiring process without any explanation or communication. If you’re no longer interested in the job or you get a better job offer, why spend the time or energy responding to an employer you don’t plan on pursuing? In fact, a survey conducted by B2B ratings and reviews company Clutch found that 41 percent of job seekers believe it’s reasonable to ghost a company.

The thing is, this hot economy won’t last forever, and the last thing you want to do is burn bridges with any company.

“While it's a candidate-driven market, industry professionals are well connected and do share their experiences. Candidates who ghost one employer could be blacklisted from others,” says Heidi Lynne Kurter, CEO and founder of Heidi Lynne Consulting. “Many times recruiters handle recruiting efforts for multiple companies. Ghosting one company without explanation could tarnish [the job seeker’s] reputation, hurting their ability to get other positions.”

This is especially true for smaller industries, according to Michelle Delgado, content developer and marketer at Clutch. “After speaking with recruiting experts [during my research], I learned that ghosting is most damaging in small industries with high turnover, such as media. In these fields, hiring managers change jobs relatively frequently and candidates may run into them again.”

So, instead of ghosting employers, here are some ways you can handle the situation with respect – and set yourself up for future success.

Put yourself in their shoes
Wendy Toth, editor-in-chief of the career blog PowerSuiting, says to think about the situation from the hiring manager’s perspective. “They are understaffed and overworked. They spent hours putting together a job description, sifting through resumes and interviewing candidates. After all that, they made a bet on you. They see you as someone they'd like, not just to work with, but to spend every day with. They like you. Why take someone who is already on your side and turn them against you by denying them an explanation?”

Take a minute to communicate
“While employers have been known to leave job applicants hanging due to the sheer volume of responses, most reputable companies generally communicate (one way or the other) with all applicants who have committed the time to interview, “ says Susan Hosage, senior consultant and executive coach at OneSource HR Solutions.

“Candidates who have made it to the final stages of the process owe the same respect to the company,” she says. “Notifying a hiring manager or HR professional that you aren't interested in pursuing the opportunity can be as simple as sending an email or making a phone call that you are withdrawing your candidacy or that you have decided to go in another direction with your next career move. The few minutes it takes to close this loop will be time well spent that can have lasting positive effects should you cross paths with any of these decision makers in the future.”

Provide feedback
It can be incredibly frustrating for job seekers to be turned down by a company but not receive any type of feedback about why they didn’t get the job. Knowing where you may have potentially stumbled during the interview can help you learn and grow. Companies appreciate that same honesty from candidates. “Offering feedback is incredibly valuable as well,” Kurter says. “If something during the interview process turned you off, be sure to express that so the company can work to improve that moving forward.”

Leave the door open
When communicating to the employer, let them know that while this opportunity may not be right, you’d love to stay in touch and potentially be considered for future openings. You could even go so far as to connect with them on professional social networking sites to keep the relationship going.

“Make sure to leave the door open for future conversations, even if you don’t think you’d ever speak with them again – you never know where they might end up and what kinds of opportunities may arise,” says Dan Clay, a career consultant and author of “How to Write the Perfect Resume.” “Turning down employers with tact and professionalism is crucial for maintaining a stellar reputation, which will keep you in the good graces of people who may end up hiring you later on. Plus, it's just the right thing to do.”

Here’s why you should always send a thank-you note after an interview.