It’s bad enough to get “ghosted” by someone you’re dating, but when it happens when you’re applying for jobs, it can be even more disappointing.
“Ghosting” is a term used when someone abruptly stops communicating without explanation, usually to avoid a formal breakup. In a job-search context, ghosting looks eerily similar: You apply for a job, go on a couple interviews, maybe even complete a take-home test, and then never hear back.
Silence from a recruiter doesn’t necessarily mean you were flat-out rejected, but it is frustrating. So, what’s the best way to get clarity on the situation and move forward?
For starters, remember that wanting a response isn’t needy. “This is about closure and accountability,” says Danny Roberts, Senior Technical Recruiter at Codecademy. Here’s what to do if you’re being ghosted during the job application process, and how to prevent it from happening in the future.
Send a follow-up email
It doesn’t hurt to send a follow-up email reminding the recruiter that they owe you an update, Danny says. In fact, it shows that you take initiative and are truly interested in the position.
In your email, express gratitude for being considered, and ask for a status update on their search. Here are some lines that you could use:
- I wanted to check in and see if you have any updates on the position? I’m still interested and am eager to proceed with the next steps.
- Have you made a decision about this position? Let me know if there’s anything else I can provide.
- In our last conversation, you mentioned you would have an answer by this date. Are there any updates you can share?
Be patient and ask for a timeline
Wondering if it’s “too soon” to follow up? “If you were given a deadline, and it’s been a couple of days and you haven’t heard a peep, it’s very fair to ask,” Danny says. And if it’s been several days or weeks of silence, you can definitely reach out, he says.
But again, there’s no guarantee you’ll get an answer: “Maybe you will get a reply, but likely you're just going to get an automated response,” Danny says.
The best way to prevent ghosting from happening in the first place is to get a deadline or timeline from the recruiter or hiring manager from the start. That way, you can set a reasonable expectation for when you’ll get a response. If the person interviewing you doesn’t offer up this information, don’t hesitate to ask for it at the end of your interview or in your follow-up email.
Put yourself in a recruiter’s shoes
A little empathy can go a long way: Keep in mind that there are a lot of moving parts involved with applying for jobs. For example, a recruiter might be waiting on answers from internal stakeholders before they can respond to your email, or they might be stretched thin juggling several different positions, Danny says. In other words, “it’s not entirely their fault” if they don’t get back to you right away, he says.
Consider leaving a review
The way that you’re treated throughout the application process speaks volumes about how a company treats its employees internally. “These are all details to pay attention to,” Danny says.
If the lack of communication left a bad taste in your mouth, you might want to leave a review for the company on the website Glassdoor. Avoid venting or ranting, which could be perceived as petty, and instead give an honest and professional review of your experience, Danny says. “Organizations, if they get enough of those reviews, will actually start to take a look at their practice and candidate experience,” he says.
Move on to the next one
Unfortunately, sometimes no response means you were rejected. “A person who’s being ghosted should often make the assumption that they’ve already been declined,” Danny says.
Coping with rejection can be a bummer, but don’t let one bad experience crush your morale. Take what you learned from the interview experience with you to your next job application.