Career 101: Are You Being Professionally Ghosted?

You did the interview, got to the presentation stage and then... poof... the interviewer turned into the phantom menace. You've been professionally ghosted, says Jeanne Sutton, and she knows just what to do.

Woman writing a CV

Last year, everyone wanted to talk about ghosting after Charlize ‘Furiosa’ Theron allegedly ditched former fiance Sean Penn via the cut-all-ties-change-your-number medium. Salacious stuff, but at the end of the day, ghosting wasn’t exactly new. Didn’t we all cut our debs dates and first shifts loose in a similar manner? What about that ex-pal from secondary school whose Facebook friend request still lingers unconfirmed? Let’s move on, like Charlize, and talk about the school of ghosting which is actually spectacularly annoying: professional ghosting.

Professional ghosting (PG) is prevalent in today’s jobs market. PG is when you apply for a job, do the interview (and sometimes even a follow-up presentation) only to hear nothing back from the hiring manager or recruiter you thought you’d developed a connection with. Your inbox is a dust bowl, and you question your LinkedIn worth. It’s crushing, especially if you put a huge amount of effort into your application and interview.


  • Follow-up one more time
  • Scared of the phone? Get over it and ring the hiring manager. You might learn that the job isn’t being filled or that the specifications have changed somewhat. In the latter case, you can pitch yourself again.
  • Move on
  • If you get no traction, throw in the towel. You tried your best. They obviously don’t have good manners. Channel your mum and say, “what’s for you, won’t pass you.”


  • Bad mouth
  • If you find yourself professionally ghosted, have a rant with your friends, and get over it. Visualise a small paper boat sailing down a stream. Have a shot of whiskey. Bon’t become that embittered person who complains about something which never happened.Give a manners lesson
  • You might want to show off your stone cold consonant skills, but there’s nothing stopping the recipient sharing this prime example of your out-of-context sulkiness with their peers in the industry.



In 2016, the jobseeking process seems crueller than it used to be. You’re up against a lot more people for one role, and it’s rarely an interview-and-done process. Hurried report-writing over a weekend and taking a day off your current job to present ideas to a prospective employer are the increasing norm. The interview has become an audition.

The fact that email’s the primary form of communication in these situations is another icy stumbling block. Yes, it’s speedy, which helps while you sit at the desk of the job you’re trying to escape, but it can feel like you’re talking to a robot. It’s easy for a hiring manager to ignore your missives. One click and your mildly-worded plea disappears.

Eoghan McDermott is a Director of The Communications Clinic and heads up their Training and Careers Clinics to help people present their best selves when looking for new opportunities. When asked about PG becoming a trend, his reply was an adamant, “absolutely.”

“It’s a typical thing that occurs. It’s terrible and it shouldn’t happen. It shows disrespect to the candidate,” he says. A professional and capable recruiter ought to provide potential candidates with an idea of how the company’s progressing with the position. A recent candidate of Eoghan’s was told she’d hear back in three weeks. Such a promise proves a mental comfort. “At least they gave her a heads up, she has a timeline,” Eoghan says.

But what about a situation where HR has been vague? Eoghan thinks that after two weeks, you’re well within your rights to follow up. Ten working days later, there should be some form of progress. He advises dropping a nice upbeat note. A sentence or two checking in that says you’re still interested won’t harm your prospects. If a week passes after that, phone them and try to have a chat.


And if you hear nothing after that? Don’t follow-up with a complaint email. The higher ground is rarely worth it and may harm your reputation. “The worst thing you can do is be visibly cranky,” Eoghan cautions. “As much as this is a frustration, you may need to maintain a relationship with a recruiter. You still shouldn’t let that disintegrate.”

Making sure that link is still there means a future offer may be on the cards. Maybe this was a bad time – the hiring manager may have gone on holidays, the company might have changed the scope of the role. “That still doesn’t mean it’s right, though,” Eoghan admits.

Of course, sometimes the best course of action is letting go. “Do you want to work with people who are disrespectful?” Eoghan asks. If the hiring process is driving you up the walls with stress, that may be a warning sign. Don’t give the ghosts power.

This article first appeared in STELLAR’s June issue. The August issue is on shelves now!

Stellar August Issue

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