Ghosted? What probably happened - and what you can do about it

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It’s happened to everyone.

You spend hours crafting the perfect resume or cover letter for your job application. Or you had a great first chat with the recruiter who said you’d fit like a glove to this exciting, new role. Or you really hit it off with the interviewer who promised to come back to you in 2 weeks.

And then - radio silence.

Remember, there is never a valid excuse or reason for a company to ghost you. The very least any employer should do with a rejected candidate is to send a canned rejection email, yet you don’t get any. Thus leaving you with that dreaded uncertainty and jilted feeling that not only has a prospective employer rejected you, they’ve completely ignored you.

Here’s what is probably happening on the recruiter or company end:

Your recruiter genuinely missed your message or follow up email. Or she’s waiting on the hiring team to decide on the next steps for you, and either isn’t able to reject you outright nor proceed forward with your application. Or the hiring team is meeting more candidates, or the hiring manager has been away from work and so a decision cannot be made.

While there isn’t a way to avoid being ghosted - which is something outside of your control, here’s what you can do about it:

  • Establish rapport with your recruiter so you’re off to a great start in the relationship. It’s generally harder to ignore someone you liked from the get-go versus a candidate that a recruiter felt less chemistry with.
  • Ask your recruiter about the hiring process, timelines, hiring urgency, so you know exactly what to expect as early on as possible. Moreover, having a sense upfront of how long an organisation takes to make decisions, or for HR and hiring teams to make offers, clues you in on how things work at this new company, versus how they say things work at this company.
  • Don’t be shy to loop in the hiring team when emailing the recruiter for follow up - doing so gives you a chance to thank them for their time, reiterate how keen you are on the opportunity, or ask for feedback on your application or interviewing skills.
  • Don’t be shy also to mention that you might have other potential offers on the table and so would love an update from the company - if indeed true, this could sometimes help expedite an interview process for you.

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You may ask - how long should I wait after an interview to follow up? Should it be the next day, or 3 days? Or perhaps 2 weeks after I interviewed like what the recruiter or hiring manager mentioned?

Here’s an insider tip: A 2 week processing time is never real. 99% of the time when a company is interviewing candidates in the market, it is because they needed the hire yesterday.

So yes, interviewers or recruiters sometimes say this as a matter of (bad) habit, or because they are in the midst of meeting other candidates. Most times though, it’s the former. And that is why you should never be shy or ashamed about following up.

Now what if you haven’t even had a first round interview with the hiring team, should you follow up?

The answer is absolutely! You did after all dedicate time for an initial screen with a recruiter, and hence deserve to know what an outcome is, good or not.

As with all follow up texts or emails, keep things light-hearted, polite, and punchy.

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Recruiters deal with the bulk of candidates coming at the top of a hiring funnel, and may be screening 20 or more candidates a week. So don’t be afraid to get on their radar.

After all, you have so much more to gain than to lose: you’d either find out why you weren’t a fit for the role, or your gentle reminder helps you move things forward with the company. The recruiter could’ve simply neglected to put your details in front of the hiring team, or arrange a first round interview with the hiring team for you.

Just as importantly, it also allows you to drive and define the relationship between you and this prospective employer, as well as the recruiter and hiring team.

It ensures that even if things didn’t work out this time, you left a solid lasting impression. You came across professional, proactive, self-aware, and hungry for feedback. It also means when there is a right role at the right time for you at the right place (whether at this company or elsewhere that the hiring manager or recruiter has moved to), they’ll have reason to reach out.

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