Did you know job ghosting is real? And could be happening to you?

You've probably heard of “ghosting” in the context of dating: You go out with someone cute, have a great time together, and come back home expecting a second date. You wait by the phone nervously for the next few weeks to hear nothing at all, finally realizing that you've been ghosted. Believe it or not, ghosting happens in the working world, too. Job ghosting is becoming incredibly common, with one-third of candidates reporting that they were rejected from a job position by never actually getting a response in the first place.

This means hiring managers and employers are leaving candidates to wait in agony only to be ghosted after submitting their resume, after the interview, or even getting ghosted after multiple interviews. So, why would a hiring manager do this? Amanda Augustine, our career advice expert, weighs in on this practice. 

You don't make it through the ATS screening

When you don't hear back from the hiring manager, you might be wondering if you've made a mistake on your resume. Of course, it's entirely possible that you might have made spelling errors or missed critical information that led to your resume being thrown aside. However, if your resume is solid and you're still getting ghosted, this might simply be due to the sheer volume of resumes being submitted for the job opening. 

“The reality is that, on average, companies receive 250 applications per job advert — far more than an HR manager could possibly review by hand,” explains Augustine. “Which is why nearly all large organizations use software known as an applicant tracking system (ATS) to scan resumes and eliminate the least-qualified candidates for a role.” However, the ATS can easily reject more than half of the resumes before the recruiter even sees them! So how do you beat this system?

The best way to work the ATS to your advantage is by looking up three to five job positions similar to the role you're applying for and identifying the keywords in each of these descriptions. Include these words two or three times in your resume, particularly in the “Key Skills” and “Work History” sections. If you've already sent in your application, try to search for the hiring manager's contact information on the company's website or social media pages and reach out. “Keep your note short when you do — only say enough to reaffirm [your enthusiasm] and quickly summarize your relevant qualifications,” suggests Augustine. 

The job opening was put on hold

Sometimes, you might've been ghosted simply because the job opening doesn't exist anymore. This is not uncommon at all. Perhaps the department's budget was cut, leading to a hiring freeze. Or maybe the management team is still debating the requirements for this role in particular. More often than not, an internal reorganization could have taken place and the position you applied for just vanished. Unfortunately, there are no laws requiring hiring managers to give you feedback after an interview. So, what do you do to ensure that you get an update?

If you made it to the interview stage, it's best to end your interview by asking when you can expect to hear about the next steps. If you don't hear anything by then, send an email reminder that highlights your interest and politely ask for an update. Be more specific in your message to stand out. Something along the lines of “Can we hop on the phone for a few minutes? I have just one more question about this position” is more likely to get a response than a generic email. However, Augustine says you should cut your losses five weeks after the interview. After all, how the future employer treats you now says a lot about how you will be treated once you join the team — and making you wait isn't the best sign.  

Related: How to Spot a Toxic Workplace — Before You Take the Job

You finished second to an internal candidate

Some companies tend to post job openings and interview external candidates even when they already have an internal candidate in mind. Unfortunately, there is nothing you can do to avoid getting ghosted for this reason. However, if you love the company and really want to work there, don't hesitate to follow up. 

“Wait for a new reason to reach out to your primary contact at the company later down the line,” says Augustine. “Follow the business on social media or set up Google News Alerts, so, say, if they win an award, land a big contract or expand into a new area, you can reach out and congratulate them.”

Ghosting the interviewer

Job ghosting works both ways. Some candidates go for job interviews and then realize that they're not really interested in that role. When this happens, many candidates feel just fine disappearing instead of politely declining the job offer. Yet, job ghosting is not a respectful practice, and you could end up burning bridges that you'll need in the future. 

If you're not sure whether you're really interested in a particular role, read over the job description carefully. Visualize yourself being in that role for five days a week over the next few years. If you can't imagine taking up the role, just send a polite response to the hiring manager saying that you don't think this position is the best fit for you. Be sure to always end things on a positive note!

We know job ghosting is both annoying and, quite frankly, demoralizing, but don't let it negatively impact your job search. Odds are, you don't want to work for employers who are known for ghosting job candidates, so look at it as dodging the bullet and keep going forward with your search. 

Want to avoid getting ghosted by a prospective employer? First step: Make sure your resume is rock solid. One of our TopResume writers can help!  

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