Back in the day, maybe still today, at the end of an audition, Hollywood producers would say, “Don’t call us; we’ll call you.”
If you didn’t hear back, you didn’t get the gig.
Not hearing back was your answer.
Maybe hiring managers should end their interviews with, “If you don’t hear from us by Friday, presume we’ve moved on to other candidates.”
I’d prefer to know the interviewer’s communication context rather than assuming I’ll hear back either way or worse, being told I’ll hear back in a few days and not hearing anything.
The term ghosting—not hearing back from the company after an interview—was born in the dating world. Recruiters, hiring managers, and candidates are increasingly abruptly ending communication. (Ghosting is happening both ways.)
Even though ghosting is considered “unprofessional,” I believe it’ll eventually be integrated into our social norms, just as many other social norms we accept today were considered unacceptable just a few years ago.
Think about all that we accept or tolerate today that weren’t accepted or tolerated 20 years ago. I can’t recall the last time I wore a tie to an interview, funeral, as a keynote speaker, or meeting with “the powers that be.” Visible tattoos aren’t frowned upon, and the usage of profanity doesn’t raise eyebrows. Today, manners are less pronounced, and people are more prone to being offended, causing everyone to walk around on eggshells, which is why ghosting is increasing.
Additionally, a sense of entitlement is prevalent today. Many candidates raised on the idea that “everyone is a winner” react negatively when not chosen. Due to having been verbally bitten several times, it’s understandable that employers avoid reaching out to rejected candidates. More than one hiring manager has said to me, “It’s easier to not have the conversation than to have it.”
For better or worse, I’ll let you decide.
It can’t be expected that the downgrading (READ: becoming more casual) of our social mannerisms wouldn’t find its way into the workplace. The 20 or 30-something HR manager has an entirely different set of values and definition of what it means to be a professional than the 48-year-old job seeker. Generational clashes are happening.
Hiring managers are swamped with applications. Replying to everyone, aside from an automated “We’ve received your application and will contact you if we feel there’s a match,” would take more time than they have. Technology one of the reasons recruitment is becoming increasingly discourteous.
Here’s some straightforward talk: Nobody wants to spend their lifeblood on someone else’s business. A person has a job to make a living. For most people, their job is purely transactional. Having a transactional mindset is why movements such as “quiet quitting” and the “F.I.R.E. movement” (Financial Independence, Retire Early), where Gen Z adults extreme save 50% to 75% of their income so they can retire by their 40s or 50s, exist. Therefore, it shouldn’t be a surprise that social niceties are being dropped as employers and employees are rapidly moving towards a relationship where each party views the other as a means to an end.
Like every job seeker, I’ve been ghosted. Since I tend to keep my expectations low, sometimes having none, being ghosted has never really bothered me. I’m serious! I don’t feel a recruiter or hiring manager owes me a reply after an interview. When I get a follow-up call, which I usually do, it’s nice, but it’s not something I expect. I attribute my assumption that no one owes me, coupled with my belief that business is never personal, to why I’m motivated to energetically help myself. I believe having the expectation of “I’m owed” is why many job seekers are frustrated with how employers design their hiring process.
Most of your job search will involve dealing with strangers who, let’s face it, owe you nothing. A fact of life: You can’t control someone’s behaviour or actions, especially that of a stranger. Acknowledging this fact of life is how you “discipline your disappointment” when someone fails to meet your expectations.
Always end your interviews knowing the next step and when to expect to hear back if you’re green-lighted to move forward in the hiring process. (“I really enjoyed our conversation. What is the next step, and when can I expect to hear back if I’m selected to move forward?”) Once I’m told what to expect, I’ll say, “If I don’t hear back from you by the end of Friday, I’ll presume you’ve moved on to other candidates.”
If the get-back-to-you deadline passes, reach out once and then let it go. Some advice I learned in the job search trenches: Always have several pokers in the fire throughout your job search. Don’t become dependent on a particular employer offering you a job. Having other job opportunities in your pipeline will help you move on from being ghosted.
Nick Kossovan, a well-seasoned veteran of the corporate landscape, offers advice on searching for a job. You can send Nick your questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.