Millennials, Ghosting Is the Wrong Way to Turn Down a Job Offer


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Written by: Carlee Linden | Best Company Editorial Team

Last Updated: February 24th, 2020

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Millennials often get labeled the socially awkward generation. Texting emoji faces rather than talking face-to-face has changed the way we communicate. Direct messaging inboxes are full of spam messages from people who only want your bank account number. Phone calls are avoided and sending an email probably means you might not ever receive a response. Older generations have pointed out that millennials don't quite know how to face their problems head-on, especially those of the social nature.

Due to the fact that most millennials were raised in the budding age of technology and most of their childhood was spent behind a screen; it is widely believed that this lack of ability to tackle difficult social situations has resulted in the popular social movement “ghosting.”

“Ghosting” happens when a person decides to suddenly and without explanation drop out of another’s life. In order to evade an uncomfortable situation a person avoids any form of social contact with those they are ”ghosting.” Originally used as a dating method and term, this cultural phenomenon is bleeding over into the professional world. Hiring managers and future employers call or email offering a candidate a position at their company, and more and more candidates simply disappear.

So why is ghosting the wrong way to turn down a job offer?

Ghosting reveals a lot more about a person then one realizes. It reinforces the belief that the current generation is afraid of conflict and has the nasty habit of blatantly disregarding others. In today’s job market it’s completely understandable to take a better job offer if it is presented, but it’s disrespectful to blackball a company once receiving another offer. Eventually working with or for someone from the ghosted company is entirely possible and having to explain the sudden cold-shoulder is an awkward conversation you don’t want to have.

The time and resources that were invested during the interview process are valuable to the company.  Instead of shying away and ghosting, capitalize on the opportunity to build connections or show your appreciation for the time spent during the process. Thank the employer for their time and provide a brief explanation of why you can't take the position.

Director of Editorial Communications & Digital Marketing at Remedy Review, Kristen Lueck has this to say about the employee ghosting trend:

It's always a disappointment when you find someone who's a perfect fit for the role, and it doesn't work out. With the increasing availability of technology, it's so easy to keep in touch or politely decline an offer whether that's through a quick text, email, or message on LinkedIn. Not hearing back from a candidate, especially when they were engaged in the interview process is always concerning, but there's no point in being angry about it. While someone looks perfect on paper and in-person, if they don't close the loop with you in the interview process they probably weren't the perfect person for that position anyway.

Danielle Boykin, an internal recruiter at Addison Group, was ghosted by a candidate who accepted a job offer, confirmed a start date, and then never showed up for his first day.

I was genuinely worried something happened to him. I called his cell several times, sent him an email, and texted him throughout the day.  The next day, still no word, so I continued to try to find him.  Finally, on the third day, I called his former employer and asked for him. The front desk asked who was calling, I gave them a different name, and they transferred my call to his desk, where he answered the phone.  I told him who I was, he put me on hold and never picked the phone up again.

Unfortunately, my perspective of this person went from positive to negative.  I’ve been ghosted before, and I usually try to keep in mind that something may have happened and that I don’t know the whole story. In this case, I didn’t know the whole story either, but what I did know is that he had engaged me to help him with his job search, accepted a job, and made his intent to start the new job very clear. What ended up happening was that he never left his old job. Knowing all of this makes it very hard to give him the benefit of the doubt.
Should he ever reach out, I’m always open to hearing someone out, trying to understand the circumstances that drove him to make such a poor decision by not communicating to me that he would not be starting the job.  I would be hard pressed to want to work with him again. Your candidates are an extension of you.  It’s difficult to put your name on the line for someone who you don’t feel like you can trust to see things through, or at least be honest with you and communicate why he wouldn’t see something through.

Ghosting an employer instantly puts millennials at the disadvantage. How can someone expect to be respected if they don’t showcase respect for the process? Ghosting only makes it easier for employers to settle on the opinion that millennials are lazy and ill-mannered employees. Soon after, self-confidence is described as “arrogance” or “narcissism.” Dreaming big or wanting more is labeled as “ungrateful.” Commendable qualities are overlooked and replaced with negative associations.

Millennials are a generation of diversity and big thinkers. It is a generation that challenges the status quo and generates innovative ideas and solutions. Their relationship with technology has provided innumerable ways to reach more people and increase work productivity. Millennials are experts in research and data compilation. Their diversity has pushed society to accept change with the perception of new possibilities and progress. Millennials’ unique contributions have changed the workforce―just make sure it’s for showcasing your best qualities.

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