Episode #71 – What It Means to “Ghost” on Your Job Offer… Especially if You Accept It

Sharita: Welcome to “The Animal Health Employment Insider,” brought to you by The VET Recruiter. In this podcast, search consultant Stacy Pursell, founder and CEO of The VET Recruiter, provides insight and practical advice for both companies and job seekers in the Animal Health Industry and Veterinary Profession. The VET Recruiter’s mission is to help Animal Health and Veterinary organizations acquire top talent, while helping Animal Health and Veterinary Professionals attain career-enhancing opportunities that increase their quality of life.

In today’s podcast, we’ll be talking about something called “ghosting.” Stacy, thank you for joining us.

Stacy: Hello, Sharita. I’m glad to be here.

Sharita: So Stacy, what exactly are we talking about when we say “ghosting”?

Stacy: Basically, “ghosting” means disappearing.

Sharita: You mean disappearing intentionally?

Stacy: Yes, that’s exactly what I mean. It’s when a candidate who’s in the hiring process of an organization just up and disappears. And it’s not just at any point in the process that I’d like to talk about today. It’s at the most important point of the process—at the very end.

Sharita: You mean the point at which an organization makes an offer of employment?

Stacy: Yes, and even after that, when an organization makes an offer and the candidate accepts it.

Sharita: You mean candidates have “ghosted” even after accepting an offer of employment?

Stacy: Yes, and unfortunately I’ve seen it happen a few times. And once again, I have case studies that illustrate all of this. That’s because if you’ve been in the recruiting profession as long as I have, you’ve see just about everything—or you know people who have.

Sharita: Okay. Where would you like to start?

Stacy: I’d like to start with my first case study, where one of my clients extended an offer of employment to a candidate that I had presented to them. 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.

Sharita: That truly is disappearing. But what if there was an emergency? What if the candidate had been in an accident?

Stacy: Those are logical questions to ask, and we should answer them. Let’s consider that possibility for a moment. Let’s say for the sake of argument that the candidate had been in a serious automobile accident. He could have been in the hospital, unable to contact me. That would be an acceptable excuse.

Or maybe there could have been an emergency involving a family member and that family member was 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, they probably would. That’s because they’d want to let me and/or the hiring manager know there was an emergency and they needed more time to consider the offer. If that had been the case, I would have been understanding of the situation, and I’m sure the hiring manager would have been, as well.

Sharita: Yes, if there had been an emergency, you would think the candidate would be even more motivated to reach out to let you know what had happened.

Stacy: Right, but that wasn’t the case. There was no call or email to that effect. There was no call or email at all.

Sharita: So if the candidate was not in an accident or in an emergency, what was the deal?

Stacy: More than likely, the candidate was interviewing at more than one organization. There was a good chance that he was hoping to receive multiple offers. In fact, he might very well have received multiple offers, one from my client and one or more from other employers.

Sharita: That still doesn’t explain why he simply disappeared.

Stacy: Well, there are a few different scenarios that would explain what happened. First, we know that the candidate was aware of my client’s offer. After all, he said he would respond within 48 hours and that clearly did not happen. So here are the scenarios.

First, he didn’t respond because he was still waiting for an offer from one or more other employers. Second, he didn’t respond because he did, in fact, receive one or more offers from other organizations and simply decided that letting me and my client know what he had done was simply not worth his time. And third, he didn’t respond because he decided to stay with his current employer, once again deciding that letting me and my client know was not worth his time. Or another possibility is maybe he didn’t want to deliver bad news.

Sharita: None of those options sound appealing at all.

Stacy: No, they don’t. This is a matter of professional courtesy. Either you’re willing to extend professional courtesy or you are not. If you’re not going to accept an 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 why you are declining it.

If an employer has made you an offer, that means they’ve invested time and energy into you. To take things one step further, 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.

However, I have a story that represents an even more extreme case than this one.

Sharita: You do? I can’t wait to hear it!

Stacy: I have to preface this story by saying that it’s not mine. It belongs to a colleague of mine who is also a recruiter and who relayed it to me. In the story, my fellow recruiter colleague placed a candidate in a position with one of his clients. That candidate’s first day of work was scheduled to be on a Monday.

Well, Monday came and went, but the candidate did not show up for work to start her new job. Of course, the recruiter’s client let them know about the situation. So the recruiter called the candidate to check on her, but she did not answer. My recruiting colleague became worried, wondering if something had happened to the candidate. Like our first case study, my colleague thought maybe the candidate had been in an automobile accident or there had been a family emergency or tragedy.

Another day passed and my colleague continued to call, but the candidate still did not answer her phone. It got to the point that the recruiter was considering contacting the police and filing a missing person’s report.

Sharita: Is that what your colleague did?

Stacy: No. My colleague had the phone number of the candidate’s father, so he called and expressed his concern. The candidate’s father said that he’d seen his daughter twice lately, including during a Father’s Day brunch two days previously. So as you can imagine, my colleague was confused when he hung up the phone.

Sharita: I bet he was! What happened next?

Stacy: Ten minutes later, the candidate called the recruiter.

Sharita: Oh, boy. What did the candidate have to say?

Stacy: She explained what happened. What happened was that she had received another offer after accepting the offer extended by the recruiter’s client. The candidate then decided the second offer was better, accepted it, and then started employment with that organization the previous day.

Sharita: Wow! And she never said anything about it?

Stacy: No, she did not. In fact, let’s recap this candidate’s behavior.

First, she accepted an offer, giving her word that she would begin employment with the recruiter’s client on a specific day. Second, she accepted an offer that was extended by another company, even though she had given her commitment to the first organization. Third, she did not call the first organization or my recruiter friend to tell them that she had accepted another offer and would not be showing up for work. Fourth, she did not answer email or voicemail messages left by both my recruiting colleague and the hiring manager. And fifth, she only responded after my colleague called her father to let him know that he was considering contacting the police.

Sharita: You’re right, Stacy. This is definitely an extreme case.

Stacy: Yes, but it’s not an isolated case. This has happened before in the employment marketplace, and it continues to happen. And we’ve touched upon this before, but I think it’s important to address again what accepting an offer of employment means what it doesn’t mean.

When you accept an offer, this is what you are NOT saying:

“Yes, I accept your offer of employment, unless my current employer or some other company I’m interviewing with offers me something better, in which case I will take their job offer instead.”

You would never actually say those words to a hiring manager, but apparently there are candidates who are thinking them as they accept an offer of employment. Accepting an offer is a commitment. You’re giving your word. That’s not something to take lightly.

Sharita: What is the danger involved in having that attitude and “ghosting” on an offer of employment and even not showing up for the first day of work?

Stacy: You must keep in mind that the Animal Health Industry and Veterinary Profession are relatively small. Sometimes it seems that everyone knows everyone else. In both of these case studies, the candidates ultimately tarnished their reputation and their personal brand. Sure, they did it for what they saw as a gain, but if it was a gain, it was a short-term gain. They sacrificed the future for the present, and such a trade is rarely worth it. Here are some questions to consider:

  • Will the recruiters involved in these stories want to work with these candidates again?
  • Will the hiring managers involved in these stories ever consider the candidates for employment again?
  • Do these candidates believe they’ll be working for their new employers for the rest of their lives?

 

More than likely, these candidates are going to make more moves before their career is over. And the fact of the matter is that they’ve already “burned bridges.” That means to a certain extent, they’ve limited their future options.

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 right way.

There is a right way and a wrong way to do things, and that definitely applies to your career. Never sacrifice long-term success for short-term gain. Always keep your word once you give it. And follow through on your promises.

So that’s what it means to “ghost” on your job offer. As a job seeker or candidate, you should never do it, and if you do accept an offer of employment, you should absolutely show up for your first day of work. Don’t accept a job offer unless you plan to keep your commitment.

Sharita: Stacy, this has been another great topic. Thanks so much for being here today.

Stacy: Thank you, Sharita. I look forward to our next podcast!