Being ghosted is never nice. But being ghosted when you’re job hunting is especially tough. Despite the fact that ghosting an interviewee or a potential employee is just plain bad manners, it, unfortunately, happens quite often. In fact, some job seekers are even ghosted after being hired.
If you have been ghosted after a verbal offer or a written offer, you may be wondering what to do next. Below, I provide a short overview of what to do when you’ve been ghosted by an employer.
Reasons Why Companies Ghost Candidates
In the event of an employer ghosting you after a job offer, you’re probably breaking your head trying to figure out what the possible reason for their behavior could be. While ghosting a candidate remains bad manners, multiple scenarios exist in which an employer may decide to rescind a job offer.
It may also be worthwhile to consider the fact that most employees in the U.S. are employed at will, which means that the employer is legally allowed to fire you for any reason, except for discriminatory reasons. This means that they can also rescind an offer for any reason, which leaves you with basically no legal recourse should this happen to you.
Here are a few common reasons why you have been ghosted after being hired:
- Conditional job offer: In the event that you received a job offer that’s contingent on you fulfilling specific requirements, such as a background check or a drug test, the job offer can be retracted if you fail to meet a requirement.
- The role no longer exists: Although this doesn’t happen often, companies sometimes rescind an offer because the role is no longer required. This may happen due to internal reshuffling, the loss of a major client, or budget restraints. Instead of acting professionally and letting you know, a company may ghost you.
- Your behavior: An employer may decide to renege on a job offer if you act in an unprofessional way after the job offer has been accepted. If, for instance, you try to renegotiate the salary or other benefits after the offer has been accepted, an employer may decide to opt for another candidate.
How to Respond After Being Ghosted
While I don’t like to sound defeatist, the truth of the matter is that there’s not much you can do when you’re ghosted by an employer. Although a few scenarios do exist in which you may have grounds to sue a company for rescinding their offer, you need to weigh up the time, effort, and money of doing so with what you stand to gain should you win the lawsuit.
To help you effectively navigate the murky waters of being ghosted by an employer, here are a few tips on how to respond.
1. Speak Up
If you’ve accepted a job offer and haven’t heard back from the employer, you can send an email in which you provide your honest point of view.
Although you should maintain a professional tone, it’s advisable to accept the fact that you may burn your bridges with the employer by sending an email in which you’re basically berating them for ghosting you. Would you want to apply for future roles at a company that provides no response after a verbal job offer, though?
There’s, of course, also a minuscule chance that the employer will respond and provide you with reasons why they’ve decided to renege on their offer after this email. Whatever the case, consider all possible outcomes before hitting the send button.
A professional, yet honest, email could look like this:
Dear Mr. Downing,
I have been trying in vain to get hold of you for nearly a month now. While I understand that things get busy, I feel very taken aback and disappointed in your lack of response to my follow-up emails. It is only normal that I would expect some form of communication in which the next steps of my onboarding process are laid out after accepting your job offer.
As you can imagine, the fact that you have probably reneged on your offer has dire consequences for me. I quit my current position after signing your offer since my contract states that I should give two months’ notice. I am a person who honors contracts and treats my employers and coworkers with respect. It is with regret that I must learn that others do not act in a professional and considerate manner.
While sending such an email will probably have no positive outcome for you, it may benefit subsequent candidates. Also, saying your say can help you come to terms with what’s happened and allow you to move on.
2. Move On
Although it may be difficult to accept, silence from an employer probably means that they have rescinded their offer. If this is the case, there’s really not much else you can do but move on. Take a day or two to collect yourself and deal with what’s happened, and then start your new job search.
You should look into any other opportunities that you were going to follow up on before you received the job offer. Also, let your network, whether in-person or online, know you’re in the job market. And then, start applying for jobs again. Whatever course of action you decide to take, guard against coming across as angry, bitter, or desperate.
As people always say, looking for your next job should be like courting a new partner. Coming across as desperate or being over-emotional is a sure way to scare away any prospective employer.
3. Sue the Employer
In the event that a company made you a formal offer and you accepted it, you can sue the company if you’ve suffered monetary losses because of them reneging on the offer. If you want to go down this road, you will need to prove that you’ve experienced significant losses and inconveniences due to the fact that you relied on the employer’s offer.
If, for instance, you quit your job because of the offer, or sold your house, you may have grounds for suing the company. The legal concept that your lawyer will draw on is called “detrimental reliance.” Just keep in mind that such cases are not often successful because an at-will employer can basically fire a new employee on their first day if they wish. This means that letting you go before you even started the job is not very different.
How Often Do Employers Ghost Potential Employees?
Although it may be challenging to remain objective when you’ve been ghosted by an employer, a quick look at statistics will reveal that you’re far from alone. According to a recent Indeed survey, 77% of job seekers say that they’ve been ghosted by an employer since the onset of the Covid pandemic.
More worrying is that about 10% of respondents state that they were ghosted after receiving a verbal job offer. The fact that only 27% of employers say that they haven’t ghosted job seekers in the past year, paints an even bleaker picture. Such statistics point to an alarming trend in which ghosting has become normalized and widely accepted across the board.
One is unsure about how to react to this information. On the one hand, knowing that you’re far from alone in being ghosted by an employer may help to provide you with some perspective. On the other hand, the fact that this type of behavior seems to be commonplace can make you feel even more helpless and disempowered.