Ghosting: A Great Way To Ruin Your Reputation

Congratulations, you’ve just accepted a new job. Unemployment rates are the lowest that they’ve been in years and perhaps you’ve received multiple interviews and offers. Hats off to you for being wanted in the industry. How you have conducted yourself over the weeks or months interviewing for these positions, is a telling sign of the type of employee that you’ll be. Have you been flexible in scheduling the interview? Presented your skills well to the hiring manager? Relayed the experiences that you’ve had to align with the company’s goals? Somewhere in the process, you’ve felt a connection and committed to the role – as an offer was made and you’ve accepted the position. So, why would you not show up on the first day without a word or reason as to why you’ve now rejected the position and the employer?

Ghosting it seems, has become a habit in the workplace and even worse, it’s commonplace in relationships. In researching this article, I went to my favorite search engine and typed in ‘Ghosting in the Workplace’. Much to my chagrin, 93,700,000 results showed. Ghosting is not just a one-off, it is unfortunately, a habit.

For those that are new to the workforce, hiring managers are aware that during the ‘dating’ phase of getting to know a prospective employee and employer, everyone is on their best behavior. It is also a given that when an employee is moving from one company to another and there is a connection between hiring managers – a phone call or email can be made, to discuss the candidate and the potential impact of a resignation and movement to another company. If there is a connection, a conversation can happen at any level and the adage of ‘this is a small town’ rings true and reputations are easy to be ruined.

Ghosting then can play out with the employee’s reputation being damaged – and it may be rightfully so. Candidates that make a commitment by accepting a position, then not showing up for work is a telling sign of the type of person they really are. Serial ghosters are the worst and their reputations are well known.

According to the research, the ‘ghoster’ has exhibited a low level of maturity, in a passive-aggressive way with the intent to avoid conflict. For the ‘ghosted’, they can experience the inability to ask questions and be provided with the ability to process what happened. Psychologists refer to ghosting as ‘the ultimate form of emotional cruelty and abuse’. Whatever ghosting is, and no matter what the relationship is – it is wrong on every level.

During the research for this article, several recruiters in my network were contacted and all of them confirmed that ghosting is a concern. Each of these individuals relayed all types of stories that I’d like to share with you to show the impacts of ghosting.

The first example is through an executive recruiter, who helps companies find qualified candidates. In their dealings with potential employees, they relayed that newer candidates are more likely to ghost an employer and that when someone at the high-level ghosts, it is usually due to having multiple offers. From a recruiter’s standpoint – they lost a commission and the faith of either a new or well-known customer. For the candidate, they will never again do business with this recruiter and for the hiring company, if given another opportunity, they would never hire this person. Don’t make the mistake, as you climb the ladder from individual contributor to a senior level, management or leadership position – ghosting is the last thing that you should be doing.

In the second example, several CIO’s referenced times when a trusted employee ghosted them when they accepted a position at another firm. These individuals were all treated well for years and were the ‘heir apparent’ for the executive. The sting of the betrayal was felt and what could have been a great reference for future opportunities was ruined by the employee’s behavior. In one example, the employee went on to betray three more CIO’s and has damaged their reputation beyond repair. In this example – think about the impact that this candidate has had on themselves – each of the CIO’s worked for a company that the employee will never work for again. Each of the CIO’s has gone on to work for another company – that is eight companies in total. Added to the scenario are all the employees within these companies that were also betrayed by this person and were left hanging out to dry for major initiatives. Let’s go one step farther, vendors that work at the company know what happened and the individual’s reputation continues to spiral downward. Now ask yourself, what if you didn’t know what had previously transpired with this person and hired them for a critical project or customer – and they bolted without a word, when you needed them the most. Your reputation, and your position may also be in jeopardy.

Whatever the motive is – ghosting either in the workplace or in your personal life is not acceptable. If you see yourself in this article, ask yourself why you would choose to ghost and why conflict can’t be dealt with. As you’re climbing the ladder, being able to provide peers and employees with feedback are a critical part of the job. When you’re a ghoster who has avoided having keen interpersonal skills – you’re losing all the way around.

@2018 All Rights Reserved

Sue Bergamo is the CIO & CISO at Episerver, a global digital commerce company. She can be reached at sue.bergamo@episerver.com.

*The content within this article are the sole opinions of the author.


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