The Dangers of “Ghosting” on Your Job Offer

It’s November, so Halloween is but a memory. However, that doesn’t mean that we can’t address the subject of “ghosting” at The VET Recruiter.

What is “ghosting,” you may ask? The best way to illustrate this is with a story, more specifically, with a case study . . .

Recently, one of my clients extended an offer of employment to a candidate that I presented to the candidate. The candidate told me that he would give me an answer within 48 hours. But . . . he disappeared. Forty-eight hours went by. We did not hear from him. A week went by. We did not hear from him. I called him, left voicemail messages, and emailed him. Nothing.

This is what I mean by “ghosting” on a job offer.

What if there was an emergency?

Most people are glad that they receive a job offer. It means that they performed well during the interview process and they emerged as the front-running candidate. Even if they’re not sure about whether they should accept it, they are usually more than happy to keep in contact with the recruiter and/or the employer.

Unfortunately, though, this is not always what happens. I can say that because the case study that I relayed above is not an isolated incident. It’s happened before, and I dare say that it will probably happen again. The purpose of this article is to warn about the dangers of this practice, specifically the danger that it poses to the long-term health and well-being of your career.

Let’s start at square one. “Perhaps there was an emergency,” you might say. “Maybe that’s why the candidate hasn’t contacted you in over a week.” Okay, let’s explore that for just a moment.

The possibility exists that the candidate was in a serious automobile accident. They could be in the hospital, unable to contact me. Unlikely, but that would be an acceptable excuse. Perhaps there was an emergency involving a family member and that family member is in the hospital. Once again, understandable, but only to a point. After all, it doesn’t take much time to make a phone call or send an email. Two or three minutes, tops, and probably less than that.

And when you think about it, if the candidate was able to make a call or send an email in that situation, you’d think that they would. That’s because they’d want to let me and/or the hiring manager know that there was an emergency and that they needed more time to consider the offer. If that was the case, I would certainly be understanding of the situation, as I’m sure the hiring manger would be, as well.

But no. There was no call or email to that effect. There was no call or email at all.

The logical conclusion and corresponding scenarios

So after all is said and done, what is the logical conclusion? Well, after more than 20 years as a recruiter, I can pretty much surmise what has happened. (And I don’t need to be a private eye or a detective to figure it out.)

The candidate in question was undoubtedly interviewing at more than one organization. There was a good chance that they were hoping to receive multiple offers. In fact, they might very well have received multiple offers, one from my client and one (or more) from other organizations. So what is the logical conclusion that can be drawn from all of this? Well, you can take your pick from the following scenarios:

  • The candidate received the offer from my client and did not respond because they were waiting for an offer from one (or more) other organizations.
  • The candidate received the offer from my client and did not respond because they did, in fact, receive one (or more) offers from other organizations.
  • The candidate received the offer from my client, received one (or more) offers from other organizations, accepted one of those offers, and simply decided that letting me and my client know what they had done was simply not worth their time.
  • The candidate decided to stay with their current employer, once again deciding that letting me and my client know was not worth their time.

None of those scenarios are particularly appealing, are they? They are not, and they could have a damaging effect on this person’s career.

A matter of professional courtesy

This all boils down to a matter of professional courtesy. Either you are willing to extend professional courtesy or you are not. If you’re not going to accept the offer of employment, then don’t “ghost” on it and just disappear into thin air. Instead, have the professional courtesy and respect to pick up the phone, thank the recruiter or the employer for the offer, and then let them know the reason that you are declining it. (In fact, if you are working with a recruiter, it’s recommended that you call the recruiter first before calling the employer. That is accepted protocol in such a situation.)

Can you just send an email? You can, but once again, it’s not recommended. If you want to practice true professional courtesy, then a phone call is required.

If an employer has made you an offer, that means they’ve invested time and energy into you. Even more than that, they’re prepared to invest even more into you in the future. At the very least, acknowledge their investment by picking up the phone and calling.

You must keep in mind that we work in a small industry. Everybody knows everybody. I’ve addressed the issue of “burning bridges” during your career before, and with good reason. If you “ghost” on a job offer, it’s not going to be forgotten. The recruiter working with you is not going to want to work with you in the future, and the company that extended the offer is not going to consider you for employment ever again.

You never know what the future holds and how circumstances might change. Why potentially damage your career in the long run? All it takes is a simple act of professional courtesy to brand yourself in the proper way.

We help support careers in the Animal Health industry and Veterinary Profession one of two ways: 1. By helping to find the right opportunity when the time is right, and 2. By helping to recruit top talent for the critical needs of organizations. If this is something you would like to explore further, please send an email to stacy@thevetrecruiter.com.