By: Shannon Patterson, CPR, CMSR
Kolbe Certified™ Consultant
Director of Practice Opportunities
Ghost·ing (noun). The practice of ending a relationship with someone suddenly, and without explanation, withdrawing from all communication.
“Ghosting” is a term most of us have heard of and often we associate it with dating, but in the last eighteen months, we have seen this behavior trickle into the interview and hiring process. In the beginning, we thought it was due to the pandemic. Candidates were all scrambling on where they should be and what opportunities would be “safe” post-pandemic, so it was understandable. What we didn’t realize was that this behavior would become what candidates view as “normal” during their job search.
Indeed, one of the largest job aggregation sites, recently confirmed in a survey what we have long suspected – “ghosting”, has become a widespread common practice among candidates looking for opportunities. Let’s face it, the interview process is not always fun; it is often an uncomfortable dance for both the candidate and the potential employer.
So why would a candidate “ghost” a potential employer? The answer is pretty simple and relates back to dating. Candidates hope that by “ghosting” a potential employer that the employer will “get the hint” that the candidate is no longer interested in the job opportunity. In doing this, the candidate avoids a tough face-to-face conversation to tell the employer he/she is no longer interested.
The harsh reality is that our culture of busyness combined with technology allows us to avoid having tough conversations. I am not talking about the texts and emails that fall through the cracks, but rather when we look at our phone and flat out ignore answering or replying because we want to avoid communicating and giving bad news.
Candidates are often afraid that providing any type of negative feedback to a potential employer might come back to bite them in the future and potentially harm their reputation as they look for other opportunities. It might seem easier to just keep quiet and hope that the potential employer stops reaching out. However, the best option is to communicate and simply let the employer know that you are still actively interviewing and you have not made a final decision. It is important to understand that most employers have invested a lot of time, money, and effort to find candidates. If you have lost interest or decided to pull out of an opportunity, providing feedback in a constructive way to that employer can help tremendously as the employer continues to search for a doctor.
So regardless of the reason you decide to decline a job offer, you need to be upfront and honest so that you don’t burn bridges and tarnish your reputation. Providing a reason and being polite with potential employers will help them remember you positively, and, believe it or not, might help you in your future career moves. Below are some graceful ways you can politely decline a job offer:
1) Choose a form of communication that makes you most comfortable when you break the news. If you feel you will become nervous and panicky on a phone call then a polished email would be a better option. However, it is often best when turning down a job offer to use the same method of communication, they used to extend it.
2) When turning down a position it is imperative to be as appreciative and thankful as possible, so preface your rejection with appreciation and start with “thank you”. It is important to remember employers have invested a lot of time and energy into the interviewing process. Ex; “Thank you so much for this job offer and for the opportunity to get to know you and your team better.”
3) It is important to be clear that you are not accepting the offer and why. Again, you want to do this in a gracious manner but be explicit on why you are passing on the opportunity. Ex; “However, I have to decline the opportunity.”
4) Provide an honest, brief, and specific reason you are declining the offer. This is the part most candidates want to gloss over, but the employer deserves feedback on why you are not accepting the position. You don’t have to go into great detail but be prepared to provide a few key points, whether you are going with another opportunity, the practice culture wasn’t the right fit, the location wasn’t ideal, or if the pay was not where you needed it to be. You can soften the blow by providing a detail or two about what you liked about the practice. Ex; “I have decided to accept a position closer to my family in North Carolina.”
5) If the opportunity was a good one, offer to provide them a recommendation with other job seekers. This demonstrates that you care about them and their practice although it wasn’t right for you.
6) Express your desire to stay connected, because you never know where your connections might lead to in the future; orthodontics is a small world. Ex; “Again, I truly enjoyed meeting you and your team and I look forward to staying in touch.”
Deciding not to move forward with an opportunity or decline a job offer is never easy, but communicating politely and professionally will make you feel a lot better in the end. Ghosting a potential employer can potentially damage future relationships and hurt your reputation, so create a favorable image of yourself that leaves the door open for any future opportunities.