I’ve read a good bit about how often job candidates disappear without a trace during the hiring process, a phenomenon known as “ghosting.” Becoming more common, I’ve learned some clients experienced the reverse situation, when the hiring manager is the one doing the ghosting. Here is some advice for what to do when a hiring manager “ghosts” you.
Hello, dream job!
Here’s the scenario. You see a job that’s perfect for you. Hello, job of my dreams! You carefully tweak your resume and apply for the position, then wait with your fingers crossed.
The phone screen
A week later, great news: You’ve got a phone screening, yay! Nervous and sweating when you answer, the phone interview actually goes pretty well and you feel like you have a good chance of getting an in-person interview. You send a thank-you email to the person you spoke with.
A couple of weeks go by, then the email comes: you’re invited for an interview at the company! Super yay! You can’t wait and spend hours preparing for the interview, “stalking” employees on social media, and deciding what questions to ask.
Finally, on Interview Day, you’re excited and terrified and nauseous all at once. The interview goes surprisingly well, and you really hit it off with the hiring manager. It’s the perfect position and while the hiring manager didn’t make any promises, she indicated that you were a good fit for the role and could bring value to the company.
The thank-you note
You make sure to send a prompt and thoughtful thank-you note not only to the hiring manager but to the phone screener as well as the administrative assistant who helped you with directions. (Great thinking!)
The follow-up email
Your note says you will follow up in about 10 days if you haven’t heard back, so you force yourself to wait until the 11th day before you contact the hiring manager. You send a professional email saying you appreciated the interview and would welcome the opportunity to join the company.
Days go by. Nothing.
What should you do?
This question has come up often from clients and friends. How do you walk the fine line between professional and pest? How can you ensure you are still on the radar without giving the impression you're desperate? Finally, when too much time has elapsed, how can you preserve the professional relationship while letting go of the prospect of getting the job?
My suggestions range from gentle nudges to more assertive tactics, but I recommend starting with the nudge strategy first. Here are a few thoughts, and I hope you share your own with me as well!
Invite the hiring manager to connect on LinkedIn. If you're not already connected, this might be all that is needed to refresh her memory of your experience and skills. Be sure to personalize your connection request!
If you're already connected on LinkedIn, share an article about the industry or job family and "mention" (tag) the hiring manager in the post. You might say something like, "Insightful points in this article about ______ [issue related to the industry/company]. @HiringMgr would find this relevant to her program, I think! Hope it's of interest."
Send an email with a link to an article, mentioning a point shared in the piece to show you've read it. Invite the hiring manager to share with colleagues, then mention that you're looking forward to getting a more detailed take on the company's approach to the issue.
Follow up with a connection at the company to see if they know the status of the hire. Some professionals won't be able to offer any additional information, but you might discover your contact has heard if there is a hiring freeze or temporary hold on new hires.
Pick up the phone. I know that leaving a voicemail is one of the most uncomfortable tasks on the planet, but in this case, it is a necessary risk. It may help to write out what you'd like to say on the voicemail in advance. Remember to leave your number at the beginning as well as the end of the message, and make an effort to keep your tone positive, not judgmental.
Attend an industry event where someone from the company is hosting a booth or presenting. If it's not the hiring manager herself, introduce yourself to the company representative and mention that you have an application in the queue. Offer to buy the person some coffee or tea after the event to learn more about the company's culture, and ask if lunch in the coming days would be a possibility
Leave a friendly, professional voicemail asking for feedback on your application and interview. If the position has been filled, it's always possible the person they hired won't stay very long. By asking for feedback, you can find out what you can do to strengthen your application the next time the opening appears. If you're able to in your message, be sure to mention that you welcome constructive criticism, as giving feedback like this is difficult for many folks.
Finally, treat yourself to your favorite dessert as a reward for doing all that you could to land this position. Eat this dessert slowly, savoring every bite while thinking, "I deserve this after all my hard work." I am a firm believer in cheesecake as a key tool for healthy career development. The reward helps you let go of the mental image of working in this role (the reward you were originally hoping for) and helps you reset your goal to focus on the next ideal position that you apply for.
Goodbye, dream job. Thank you, NEXT!
Contact me if you'd like to discuss your career, learn to nail a job interview, or explore a career transition. I’d love to hear about your professional goals and learn how I might help you achieve them. Please sign up for my weekly emails to continue developing your career as well!