Andrea seemed like the ideal candidate: experienced, energized and aligned with the company’s mission. During the first interview, she impressed the hiring manager with her creative ideas. She was a shoo-in for a second round interview with the full team– and then she disappeared. “Ghosting” – abruptly cutting off contact and going silent – is not just a problem for the lovelorn on dating apps. Increasingly, ghosting employers is becoming a thing; hiring managers and recruiters are feeling the sting when candidates vanish overnight, ignoring emails and phone calls or no-showing at interviews and even the first day of work.

Why Millennials are Ghosting on Job Offers

The strong job market has lulled younger professionals into thinking that ghosting, once limited to casual dating, is acceptable behavior in the workplace. Today, more open jobs exist than unemployed workers, the first time this has happened since the Labor Department began keeping records in 2000.

For professionals with multiple job opportunities, ghosting can seem like the easy way out. There’s no awkward “thanks but no thanks” conversation, no uncomfortable explanation or obligatory white lie about why you’re bowing out from this opportunity. While sending those calls to voicemail may seem easier now, doing so can backfire in the long run.

The Dangers of Ghosting: Permanent Damage to Your Professional Brand

Recruiters and hiring managers keep track of candidates in internal systems. A no-show for an interview, or worse, for the first day of a new job, means a permanent black mark next to your name. For young professionals who have never experienced a tight job market, this may seem like a vague threat. It’s not: recruiters and hiring managers all talk to one another even across industries and geographies.

When given an interview opportunity or job offer, it’s never a good idea to ghost– even if you feel justified because other hiring managers have behaved this way to you in the past. You never know when the market will shift and you’ll be on the other side, trying to find a job and at the mercy of the very hiring manager you ghosted just a few years before.

Tempted to Ghost? Take 5 Minutes and Do This Instead

A prompt, succinct reply to an interview opportunity or job offer is always preferable to silence. Whether you’re on the fence about this opportunity or are no longer interested, don’t leave the company hanging. Here’s what to do:

  1. Acknowledge the message. If you know you won’t be moving forward with the interview or job offer, let the hiring manager or recruiter know as promptly as possible. While they may be disappointed you’re no longer a candidate, they will respect your decision and appreciate your honesty, even if it’s the day of the interview.
  2. Keep it brief. You’re under no obligation to explain your reasoning. Just thank them for considering you and let them know you’re going in a different direction.
  3. Undecided? Ask for additional time. If you’re evaluating multiple offers or are on the fence about this opportunity, let the hiring manager know. Again, you don’t need to dive into why you need more time (unless you want to). The key is to communicate your timeline for decision making.
  4. Follow up on schedule. If you asked for additional time, follow up within this agreed upon timeframe. Generally, this could be a week or two. Play your cards right, and you might even be able to leverage a better salary, compensation package or a work-from-home arrangement– opportunities you’ll never know about if you ghost.


Do you have any good “ghosting” stories? Please share your stories and thoughts in the comments below!