Each week members of our community – well, we refer to them as Changemakers, because they are – pose a tough question they’re facing in their career for Valerie Sutton, our Non-Executive Director for Workforce Navigation & Transformation. She posts her response in our community and we then share her advice via our blog. Last week one of our members asked: What do you do when you are ghosted by a company/job, or you are just left in limbo? We think this is a really relevant question today because ghosting is an experience increasingly faced by candidates. Got your own career-related questions? Share your questions with us via Instagram or LinkedIn!

“You need to keep plugging away with tenacity and passion. I focus a lot on the ‘Power of Now’ – what can you do now to fix the problem rather than being overwhelmed or moping about it.”

– Meena Ganesh, Portea

As you move through the job search, you will have quite a few applications that languish. If an organization has ever ghosted you, it can be pretty frustrating! The first thing I want you to know is that you’re not alone. A 2021 study by Indeed found that a whopping 77% of candidates reported that they’d been ghosted by an employerthat’s nearly 8 out of 10 people!  So, what do you do if you’ve been ghosted by a company during a job search and have been left in limbo? Let’s go through two common reasons this situation occurs to develop your future approach.  

Job Application Timelines

The first thing to check is the organization’s hiring timeline and when you applied to the role. When you’re applying for a job the days or weeks that go by between when you applied and contact from an employer can seem to drag.  In fact, I’ve had plenty of clients feel freaked out because they hadn’t received a call back within a week of submitting their application. So here are two questions to ask yourself:

  1. Did you apply within the first ten days of the opening? If not, the organization/hiring manager may already be well along in the interview process; this means they’re not likely to consider your application unless the initial interview rounds don’t yield a viable candidate. Then, once they have made an offer to a candidate, they will contact you to let you know the job has been filled.
  2. How long does a job in this industry take to fill? For direct services nonprofits, it can take 60 to 90 days to fill a position, and screening interviews usually begin around the 30-day mark. That means there’s a whole month between when applications are received and the first interviews.  In media/publishing/technology, the process can be faster at 30 to 45 days to fill a position. In this instance, they usually schedule the initial screening interviews within ten days of posting an open role.

Patience in this circumstance may be needed, as it often is in longer job searches. Often you will get a call much later than you expected due to the hiring timeline and the employer hoping to keep candidates on standby in case the search doesn’t go well on their end. 

If you applied within the first ten days and meet all of the basic requirements, the second reason they may ghost you is that they’ve received many competitive applications, perhaps more than they expected. Therefore, you’ll want to examine your application for the following:

  1. Did you clearly outline in your resume the ways in which you meet the basic qualifications of the position? The human resource representative will not call folks that don’t meet these basic requirements. And, if there are many competitive applications, they may not spend as much time reviewing each one. 
  2. Do you clearly show you can achieve 60 to 70% of the listed responsibilities? If not, you aren’t considered a competitive candidate. At ExponentialChangemakers, our members can use our tool, The Quick Qualifier in the Job Search Strategy section of our Career Skills Hub for more information on how to determine whether they are a competitive candidate for a role. 

In this case, it means that you weren’t competitive for the position; however, they may not have the time to respond to everyone due to sheer numbers and lack of staffing. Therefore, you’ll want to examine positions at this organization that you are a competitive candidate. It might not be your ideal position, but it should be one where you can build your skills to be competitive for your next job. 

Ghosted During the Interview Process?

Although being ghosted during a job search is frustrating, being ghosted partway through the interview process can really feel demoralizing. First of all, shame on the organization for ghosting you – it’s just plain rude!  Furthermore, they aren’t thinking about the long-term implications for their brand. After all, an interview process is supporting both sides – the candidate and the employer – to learn about each other. In this instance, consider the timeline as well as your points of contact.

  • How long has it been since the HR rep/employer was in touch with you? If it has been a month, then it’s most likely they’ve offered the role to another candidate. Like I mentioned earlier, sometimes an employer tries to hold on to other candidates while waiting for their ideal candidate to make a decision on an offer, just in case that candidate declines.
  • If you advanced beyond an initial screening interview to an interview with a hiring manager, have you reached out to both the human resources representative as well as the hiring manager? Because, I have seen instances of internal miscommunication – with the candidate unaware and, instead, seemingly ghosted.  If you’ve reached out to both the human resources contact and the hiring manager and still have no response, then it’s likely they’ve selected a different candidate.  

If you’ve been ghosted or left in limbo during the interviewing process, I’d urge you to focus your attention on the organization itself. Does the organization’s behavior reflect the values you’d expect from a potential employer?  The good news? If you’ve made it to the interviewing process for this role, then you are likely a competitive candidate for a similar role in a different organization – and there are many of those! Keep the faith – the right role with the right organization is usually just around the corner.