Ghosting an Employer is Bad For Your Professional Reputation – And Also Just Plain Bad Manners

We get it….. between classes, extracurricular activities, and part-time campus jobs, students have busy lives and sometimes it’s hard to get everything done.  However, one thing you should definitely make time to do is maintain your professional reputation as it is much easier to nurture it on a daily basis as opposed to trying to improve it after it has taken a hit… which brings me to the point of this blog post….

ghostWe’ve increasingly heard from employers that they’ve been “ghosted” by Penn students, when applicants who they have been communicating with all of a sudden stop responding to their messages.  Sometimes this happens during the interview process itself, when the employer is trying to set up a second interview or perhaps gather additional information from an applicant.  Even worse, we’ve heard from several employers this year that some students have disappeared after they’ve been extended an offer – or even accepted the offer! The employers report that they have emailed and called the individuals multiple times over the course of days (and sometimes weeks!) and simply get no response.  This is unacceptable behavior in the professional world.  If you are no longer interested in an opportunity, simply reply back politely and let the employer know that while you appreciate their consideration, your plans have changed and you no longer wish to be considered as an active candidate.  It is extremely easy to send an email to let them know so that they can move forward with other candidates.  If you’ve already ACCEPTED a job or internship, there is absolutely NO excuse for not replying to emails or returning calls from your future employer in a timely manner.  You should be striving to build strong relationships with your future co-workers and being non-responsive is a surefire way to get off on the wrong foot with them.  Not only will this behavior damage your reputation with the particular employer you’ve ghosted, but make no mistake about it – your future employer undoubtedly knows lots of other employers in the same industry and word can quickly get out that you are an unresponsive individual with poor follow-through.

On a related note, we’ve also heard from employers who are upset with the significant number of students who RSVP for campus events and then don’t attend.  While students sometimes assume that their absence won’t be noticed, employers typically track attendance at events and indeed do know who shows up and who doesn’t.  It’s particularly annoying (and expensive!) when they order refreshments for a certain number of attendees and a significant number don’t attend or when the employer has to stop taking RSVPs for an event because of limited venue space and then not all of the individuals who indicated they would attend do.

As we move into 2020, do yourself and your professional reputation a favor by being courteous and responsive to employers throughout the application and interview process and beyond once you receive the offer.  Your future self will thank you for building a positive professional image of yourself.

By Barbara Hewitt
Barbara Hewitt Executive Director Barbara Hewitt