It’s a haunting feeling. Submitting an application, immediately hearing a response, and then… an eerie silence. You got ghosted — professionally ghosted, that is. This week, we interviewed a paranormal investi — we mean, career specialist Carrie Hawes, to try to learn how to banish the ghosts for good. Get ready for a spooky ride.
Meg: It’s a haunting feeling, submitting an application, immediately hearing a response and then an eerie silence you got ghosted–professionally ghosted that is. Most of you know the term in the dating context. You know when someone you’re talking to you all of a sudden just kind of disappears, not responding back to any calls or texts poof! Vanished. Well, the term ghosting has since crept its way into the workplace and has been annoying student affairs professionals ever since. With Halloween around the corner, we thought it would be appropriate to conduct our own investigation into professional ghosting, share a few spooky tales and learn how to banish these ghosts for good.
Meg: I’m Meg Sunga and you’re listening to will there be food, the student affairs podcast that like your job is so much more than free pizza. Every week we get to explore a new topic in higher ed with humans in the industry.
Meg: On today’s episode, we have Carrie Hawes. Carrie is an associate director of employer relations at the university of Richmond. Carrie and I met back in 2015 at my first job at Virginia Commonwealth university where we both served on a search committee together. And not any surprise. We’ve both experienced our fair share of ghosting. Hey Carrie, how’s it going?
Carrie: Hey Meg, thanks for having me.
Meg: Thank you for joining us. So Carrie, we are in Halloween time, you know the, the air smells like pumpkin spice, we smell the lattes. Um, and we wanted to talk about professional ghosting. What is professional ghosting?
Carrie: Oh, good question. So professional ghosting is similar to the dating term where someone just ups and vanishes. And I think for a while, student affairs professionals have thrown around that I never heard back, I got ghosted by a school or a search committee or something. But what the tide has turned to is we’re hearing more and more about employers, organizations losing candidates than they’re being ghosted. And I think the employers feel the pain and the schools feel the pain. That’s when something starts to kinda enter our lexicon a little more. And so we’re seeing professional ghosting as employers or employees totally like disappearing from a conversation.
Meg: Oh my gosh. So what does this practice look like in student affairs? Do you think it’s different from ghosting in a dating context?
Carrie: Ooh, I think big implications from a professional ghosting versus a personal ghosting. Right?
Carrie: So, they’re both emotional, both carry rejection and both involve conflict of: what happened? Why aren’t they calling me? I thought they liked me? And so I think it’s a continuum and a spectrum. Like most things where there’s, there’s some things that I wouldn’t call ghosting. Like sometimes let’s say you apply for a job and you never hear back from them, but you also never interviewed or you never like heard anything. I don’t know if I call that ghosting. I just call that poor communication from a search committee.
Carrie: I think where we see issues and what I would probably define as hardcore ghosting is when either an employer brings you to campus and you do the onsite and you go to lunch in the dining hall and you have such a great time and you send your thank you notes and then you never hear from them ever again. That to me is ghosting or the inverse on a search committee. You’ve brought in some really great people and you think they’re the one and then they never return your call when you give them the offer. So I think it depends on what side you’re on, but I think both are really awful situations to be in.
Meg: Okay. So from what am I, so just to clarify, is it okay to ghost?
Carrie: Oh no, never. I no, never just be clear about that. You should never ghost and I think it’s like a relationship. Like if there is something is the wrong, you should get over your fear of conflict, reach out and maybe clarify what’s going on. So if it’s an employer and you’re not feeling them anymore cause something happened on an interview or a phone screen or theres something that popped up and you’re just like, I don’t think this place aligns with my values, let them know. No one is going to fault you for being honest and transparent in the process. You have nothing to lose in that. And if anything, we all know student affairs is a super small world. You do not want that coming back and biting you like, Oh that’s the person who goes, did so-and-so? Cause let’s be honest, we all move around and we come in contact with each other. And you’d hate for something that you did you know, at a poor decision out of fear to affect your longterm career.
Meg: Absolutely. Student affairs is a super small world. I will never get away from that. I was at a wedding, this is completely tangential, but I was at a wedding in Tampa and I was sitting next to a group of people that I’d never met before, but who had actually like worked at an institution where my ex boyfriend worked. And so they recognize me through that. It was very strange. I was like speaking of ghosts of people past.
Carrie: everywhere. So it turns out my son’s in preschool and his little buddy, his new best friend, his mom works at BCU now in housing. And we were like, okay, this is small world, but also great because now I have like a mom friend and our kids can play and it’s kind of nice.
Meg: I love that. So I’ve mentioned I’ve been ghosted and I feel like you have. But just to be clear for our listeners, have you been ghosted before?
Carrie: So personally I have never ghosted anyone that I know of, I am like religious about my thank you notes and following through and all that. I have been on search committees. One of the things I love about my job is serving on search committees and getting to see new professionals and like hiring people. It’s how we met, um, I’ve definitely had candidates who disappear and don’t respond. I’ve been lucky that it’s usually happened in the phone screen process where I’ll reach out and be like, Hey, we want to talk to you. Let’s get together. And there’s no response. Then there’s the response. And that’s disappointing. I’ve never had someone come to campus or I’ve never had like hired someone and then had them not show up, which is like the extreme form of ghosting when you like hire and then they never appear on campus and you wonder what happened to them. So I’ve been really lucky. I like to think that I have really good people in my, uh, candidate pools, um, and they feel comfortable talking to me and so they don’t feel the need to go, so they tell me what’s going on. So I’ve not had that. What? I didn’t know your story. Tell me yours.
Meg: Oh my gosh. I, uh, I had applied to a school, this was back during my first run, so 2015 graduating from grad school went to TPE and applied to a couple of institutions in the state of Georgia. And it wasn’t until almost a year and a half into my first position did I get this like stock HR email that was like, Hey, we’re interested. Like the, you know, the positions still open. We’re interested in having you, are you available for a like a phone interview kind of thing. And so I was like, well, dang, that would have been nice.
Carrie: Would have been nice a year ago.
Meg: Right, right. And it’s just so confusing to me because I’m curious, like, you know, where is that misstep? Is that an HR thing? Is that on the search committee? Is that yeah
Carrie: Good question. So I think it really depends on the school and thinking about resources and how searches work, right? So at some institutions I’ve been at, the HR department handles most of the hiring. They post the jobs, they may screen resumes and then send them onto a search committee. I’ve been at some places where like I’ve got all the resumes, I worked with the committee, we figured out who our top candidates were, we selected them and we just let HR know when it was done. And so I think sometimes you have two tracks running like a hiring committee track and an HR office if the left and right hand aren’t talking to each other, nobody knows. And then it depends on the technology at those schools. So I’ve been at institutions where I had to go in and click every single name, like accepted, declined, accepted, decline, and you average 200 plus applications.
Carrie: That’s a lot of people. I think not everybody is meticulous and that probably can be where some of these issues come up from. People fall through the cracks. Right. And that was on me. But I think some schools, I think we’re really lucky here at the university of Richmond, we have a great HR team that we partner with and they will go through and let everybody know where they stand in the process. And so it’s a really collaborative process and that has been really successful I think in making it so everybody knows where they stand. You may not get a quick answer, but you’re definitely not hearing a year and a half later that they want you for an interview.
Meg: For sure. Um, so the question that popped up in my head is, so is this a tech issue?
Carrie: Oh, so I think from an interview standpoint it could be a technology and communication issue from like everybody being in the same level of communication of knowing where they stand in the search process.
New Speaker: I think the level of ghosting where we see people who just don’t show up, which is the ghosting I’m hearing a lot about right now in the industry, in student affairs, in the greater workforce, cause I work a lot with young professionals coming out of colleges. It’s people not showing up for work. And so they’ve been hired, they’re expecting them to show up in Atlanta on the first day of their summer internship and then they never show. And that to me is also a communication issue. But that’s a consistent communication of onboarding people and making them feel welcomed and knowing what to expect and where to be and what’s going on.
Carrie: And so I think in both situations it’s, it comes down to open communication and making sure everybody is involved in the same way. So it was like seriously like a relationship ghosting. Like everybody’s not communicating then nobody knows where they stand and they haven’t defined the relationship and they don’t know, are we steady, are we not? What’s going on in here? Are you meeting my parents?
Meg: We all just want to define the relationship.
Carrie: so it doesn’t matter which one you’re in, you always want it defined and it’s scary and it’s very like vulnerable thing to go through a job interview, right? So you’re putting yourself out there and what are your hopes and dreams and what do I want and where do I see us together in five years? Like the standard interview question that’s so similar. I think in other relationships and it’s not surprising then that these types of things creep into other types of relationships in our world.
Meg: I love that. Is this no show ghosting epidemic that’s happening– do you feel like this might be a generational thing?
Carrie: I have been doing some research on this cause I think the topic is so fascinating. Like why did this pop up all of a sudden? And so I was doing a couple readings through various places. There was a really like viral linked in, um, article about what’s happening right now. And so, and then the whole premise was, Oh, it’s those millennials, gen Z’s, they just don’t show up. Which I take offense at, um, as a uh oh what am I, old millennials, zennial whatever you call me, gen X on the line. It depends on what mode I’m in, that I will take either one of them. Um, and so what some of these kind of labor people who study labor markets and things we’re saying it’s not so much a generational issue. It’s a tight labor market. So we’re seeing less than 4% unemployment right now.
Carrie: And so people have options where 10 years ago when we were coming back from the recession, people didn’t. And like you got a job offer, you were there, you got an phone interview, you were on it, man, you did not want to miss an opportunity. And when you have so many options, it shifts that power dynamic. And so now all of a sudden the searcher is in power and control and company or university or whoever it is is kind of waiting and hoping that people come through. But I think there’s a lot of things people can do to mitigate that, to make sure your employees show up or to make sure you know, everyone who’s been invited to a phone interview or something like that, feels compelled to actually participate in the process.
Meg: Thank you. Carrie some people, um, name and shame institutions for ghosting. We are in a world where, you know, the, the Facebook comment section, the power of Twitter, you know, groups just want to get together and vent. I don’t know. I don’t know. Have I done it? I don’t know. I don’t know. Um, but how do you, how do you feel about that?
Carrie: I cringe sometimes. I’ll be really honest when I read some of these Facebook groups or get on a Twitter thread that’s like hashtag SApro and I kind of have to take a breath because I understand where it’s coming from. We, we are frustrated as a industry about what’s going on in different areas and we feel like this is our opportunity to like protect each other to an extent and say, Hey, be careful. This is what happened to me. And I like to think that it’s well-meaning and I think sometimes, unfortunately a lot of social media people vent without thinking about longterm implications. And I don’t want to say like there’s the magical black list out there of places you shouldn’t go or people you shouldn’t hire because I think that’s awful to even think that that exists. So I’m gonna pretend like it doesn’t.
Carrie: Um, but I do think people do have to be careful about what you’re putting out there because it could be a very specific situation. It could be a very crazy thing that happened and somebody forgot to Mark a bubble next year name and the HR text is dumb and so you didn’t get anything so you didn’t get an email. And I think that’s, you know, a total different situation. I think sometimes what I have found, the more I’ve grown in my career and been on more search committees and become a hiring manager and a a leadership role myself is you never know what’s going on in the background. There could be politics at play, there could be funding issues at play, there could be a new leadership person who shows up on the scene and all of a sudden decides they want a structure a different way.
Carrie: And you have this great team in mind that you were about to bring on and everything goes out the window. And so sometimes it’s nobody’s real fault but it’s just life comes into question and things totally get moved around. And that’s where I think followup and communication on the part of your searcher is to ask and find out and then be really careful about what you put out there. Because as we said, it’s a really small world and you never know if that person moves organizations and you were totally talking trash about one instance that was going to be somewhere else and now they’re never going to want to hire you and you may lose out on the perfect job because you let that one instance shade everything.
Meg: Yup. I feel like I am seen, haha.
Carrie: Oh did I call you out?
Meg: No, no, no. It’s so funny. It’s, and you know, it’s funny because I, I think about my time at VCU a lot, right? So I was there for only a year and it really just came down fit. Right. And so I have nothing bad to say about the department, about the people I worked with. I loved our students. I loved that experience. Living in Richmond is awesome. As you know, it’s one of the best cities to live in ever. So many food options. Shout out to Richmond food Shindigz cakes. Carrie, if you were to send me a Shindigz cake…
Carrie: You know they can deliver now and then we’ll deliver to the university of Richmond. It is awful. There have been days where I’ve thought I get myself some Uber eats pie.
Meg: Oh my God, that gives me so much hope!
Carrie: Yes technology’s great.
Meg: Shindigz cakes and um, Oh my God, sugar shack donuts. I’ve missed them so, so much. But I digress. The point of that was was I, you know, even though it didn’t work out in my first institution, there is never any point in my time where I would ever, you know, bad mouth my time at VCU. Like it didn’t work for me. But that doesn’t mean it’s not gonna work for you. Like
Carrie: absolutely. And every place is different and I’ve been lucky. I’ve now professionally been at four different institutions as a postgraduate and then my time during graduate school and each one was totally different and have their own unique qualities about them. Big giant state schools, tiny private schools. And like every school’s not for every student. I think every school, maybe not for every professional and find places that are better fits even like different departments even. So I currently don’t work in student affairs anymore. I work in advancement technically, but I was in student affairs at a different place where as an academic unit and so things can be different just office to office and so you have to be super careful about what you say and do so you don’t alienate people.
Carrie: I mean it’s like we’ve got to look out for each other. I think that’s my other thing is like life’s too short. This work we do is too hard and important to, to let negativity get in our way necessarily.
Meg: Absolutely. Carrie, do you think that ghosting just happens in higher ed? Um, it’s funny. Like is it one of those horror movies where if we move houses, the ghost is going to follow us or if we change industries, will the ghost go away? Like what does that look like?
Carrie: Is this just our problem? Is it us or is it them?
Meg: Its them, It’s me.
Carrie: I think that there are variables in higher education that I think make it a little more prone to ghosting. So the way we do hiring is a little different than maybe a typical like professional industry. When I think about like um, the places all my students are going to, they have like large HR departments that are handling all the hiring and they work with their business partners. And I think in student affairs we find it part of our profession to do some of this hiring. And so therefore we are kind of not professionals in HR, right? So I am not an HR professional. I have never taken a Sherm class or have like those letters after my name. I am a master’s in education. I’m a higher ed administrator. Like I’m not an HR person necessarily, but I run search committees and I bring in people and I ask questions and I try to convince them that they should come work at this institution.
Carrie: So there’s going to be things when you’re not necessarily like up to date and all the rules and regulations that happen. So I think we’re a little more predisposed as an industry for it. It happens everywhere though. And you know, we’re not alone. And so thinking, Oh, I hate that. I never hear anything I want to leave. That’s not gonna be your answer. It happens everywhere. Unfortunately. I think as long as the labor market is the way it is right now, the power is actually in the searchers. We have a lot more power and I think our employers are the ones who really have, are working hard to make sure they keep people and to have people show up on the first day and to make sure that they’re really good, solid candidates show up at the end. I was on a search about six months ago and it took a long time as most do in higher ed and we had some really good candidates in the pool, really good candidates and the pool that I was super stoked about, but we moved too slow and we lost some people and it was really sad to know that they got other opportunities.
Carrie: But I’ll tell you what, it was worth the wait because the person we hired has been absolutely fabulous. And so it’s part of it is just knowing like yeah, timing is everything and sometimes things work out the way they were supposed to and you just kind of have to trust the process a little bit and see what happens.
Meg: Oh trust the process.
Carrie: I know that’s such a student affairs thing to say. I’m sorry.
Meg: No, I love it. It’s fine. Um, as far as how we can go about addressing this, more importantly how do we, how do we fix this?
Carrie: How do we fix that? Good question. So I think it’s to vantage points on this one. So I’ll think about, let me take the universities lens first. So how do the university address being ghosted? So what can they do to help with this? I think communicate to people where you are in the process at any time.
Carrie: Hey, you know, thank you so much. This is where we are or we’re still searching or we really appreciate your application. Our search has been put on hold. We will get back to you when we reopen it or you know the form. Thanks for applying. Unfortunately we had an overwhelming number of applicants who were fabulous. You are not it.
Carrie: All these things like giving updates and then if you do hire someone, really making sure you do a good job of reaching out and welcoming that person into the fold. I have been to a couple institutions where I’ve gotten emails ahead before starting. People have reached out on LinkedIn and connected with me before I start and I feel really welcomed into the community. Like yeah, they’re ready for me to start and I want to show up that first day. I have no desire to turn around and run the other way.
Carrie: I think also keeping communication and saying if something comes up, let us know. Life happens. So for instance, you have a family member who gets sick or you all of a sudden decide, discover you’re pregnant. I don’t know, whatever your circumstance in life is, you let your new employer know, Hey, something came up and this might affect my ability to bring my whole self to the work. The first couple of weeks I want to be honest with you. Don’t run away and hide, like just be there and be authentic and show up. So I think from an employer’s like being vulnerable as well and making sure people feel like they can come to you and give you an update. I think from us as searchers and being ghosted and ghosting, I think the key is to follow up, but don’t be obnoxious, and I say that from a place of love you.
Carrie: So I will tell students like you send a thank you note after an interview and if you haven’t heard in a week you can follow back up and say, Hey, I’m just checking in on where we are in the process. Can you let me know? I’d love to hear more. I’m really super stoked that can happen after a week. You don’t have to email every single day, you don’t have to email and then call and then tweet @UR, why haven’t I heard from you? Where are you going? We’re not the airlines, so let’s, let’s be clear. Um, so I think there is a lot of ways, um, you can be really professional about following up and not be too much. And so I think that’s really important for people to know is, you know, reach out. Say hello, reach out to somebody on the search committee. Hey, I want to just make sure and see if you needed anything else from me.
Carrie: I’m really excited. I think people get really nervous after that. Like week to week standpoint, they’re like, Oh man, they will somebody else never know. So you could have someone who’s on vacation, it can be orientation and people haven’t checked their email in like three days straight. Right? You have no idea what’s going on. So I think the key is to be, you know, forward and ask and show that you really care and show that you’re really interested. Don’t overwhelm people because that will turn them off as well. Don’t be, don’t be a stage five clinger.
Meg: Don’t be a stage five clinger, honestly. Chill out. It’s going to be okay.
Carrie: You’re cool. We like you. And I think the way you can handle the situations like that also makes you like showing good grace. So actually I’ll tell a story. Um, so at VCU I actually interviewed for uh one job initially when I was applying to move to VCU and went through the process, I thought I kicked total butt.
Carrie: Like I was amazing. I was probably one of my best interviews and I’m sure the hiring manager will say the same thing, but they didn’t hire me and they’re like, look, we have another candidate who we really think would be phenomenal. And they were, and they made the right hire. But I handled it professionally. They handled it professionally. And so when they turned around and said, we have this other job, would you be interested in applying for this? It was not the initial job I wanted necessarily. It wasn’t like the same level. It was a little different. It was the best decision. And that’s how I ended up at VCU in the role I was in and got to do some really great things and maintain my composure and professionalism. And then that hiring manager was like, heck yeah, they can be really upset that they didn’t get this show.
Carrie: But I turned it around and kept it really positive and had a great time and had a great relationship then. So I think that’s the key. Like just make sure you bring the best self all the time.
Meg: Absolutely. Well, the opposite of stage five clinger well is what, what’s the opposite of ghosting?
Carrie: You mean the people who’ve been in the same job for 20 years and never leave? Sorry, I probably shouldn’t say you don’t have to put that on there. That’s such a student affairs thing too, right?
Carrie: People who never leave that,
Meg: would that make them Poltergeist?
Carrie: Poltergeist! The opposite. Ghosting is Poltergeist. Go to the lightCarol ann go to the light.
Meg: Let me reframe. So you were saying about how, you know, don’t be super clingy and follow up all the time. Um, what are the things that, um, I guess, what would the opposite of that look like as far as what are they, what are candidates not doing enough of?
Carrie: I think some candidates feel like if they don’t hear anything then it’s a no and that’s not necessarily true. I think it’s, if you haven’t heard something in a week is when you can send a follow up. If you haven’t heard anything in a month, absolutely send a followup and I think so many times you have like the one person you’ve been talking to on the hiring committee, it’s okay to go to HR and say, Hey, I was part of this search committee. I was wondering if you could provide an update. I haven’t been able to connect, you know, and don’t do that as throwing someone under the bus, but like how many able to connect with the hiring manager.
Carrie: Just wanting to see if you had a status update for me, I’d really appreciate any insight. I’m really stoked about this job. That’s all it has to be. Phones aren’t necessarily everybody’s favorite thing. I don’t check my voicemail, let’s be honest. And so I think sometimes we rely so heavily on email when a phone call could maybe do this a lot better. Thinking of calling HR office, picking up, calling the hiring manager, picking up and calling that person the signature at the bottom of the email has their phone number nine times out of 10 call them. Hey, just wanted to see. The worst thing is you’re going to get voicemail and you’re probably praying for voicemail anyways as it’s ringing cause you’d rather just leave the message than actually talk. So like leave the message say you are still excited. So I think those are appropriate things to do.
Carrie: I think there’s this idea of advocating for yourself and putting yourself out there, which is great and continue to do that. I think it also, if you have references or people within an organization, so if Maggie wanted to come and work at you are and you hadn’t heard back and you were wondering what was going on, you call me up. Say, Hey Carrie, I’m really excited. I would love to come work at you are with you. Do you have any insight what’s happening with this job search? And I can fill you in. I’m hopefully, I would hope but or at least find you the right people. So I think that’s the one thing to think about is, you know, use your network for good and don’t scare everybody off necessarily, but like use that and rely on that a little bit. I think where I’ve saw some stories online about people who said that they like would call and they wouldn’t get no response and then they’d call HR and they get no response and they called people they know and they get no response and they had no idea until they saw like the staff updated the website and saw that somebody had the job.
Carrie: And I was like, that’s gotta be heartbreaking to be like, Oh, that should be my face and name right there. And that to me sad, like I feel like we all owe each other when we’re on search committees or doing anything, the decency to say, here’s where you stand. I’m so sorry we went with somebody else. And rejection is never easy, but it helps us grow as humans to know. Okay. It wasn’t a fit time to move on to something else.
Meg: Sure. Do you think ghosting happens because candidates are applying for the wrong jobs?
Carrie: Yes, absolutely. I think the like scattershot approach of job searching is the worst. If you are applying for 50 plus jobs, stop, take a breath, visit your career center and find out how to do it right. Because I think that’s where we run into issues is you’re applying for so many things. You don’t even know what you’ve applied for anymore, right? And you’re not putting your best foot forward and really applying for the things that you’re the right fit. And if you were applying for the things that you’re the right fit for and you’d be really good at, you’re going to hear back from people. If you are tailoring your resume and cover letter and doing it right, we’re probably can get immediate feedback. And I mean I obviously have a career services hat on when I say that, but it’s so true. And you can tell as a search committee person, like the people have really put in some intentional work on their applications are the ones who really stand out in a crowd and they’re more likely to find out where they are in the process. Even if that’s the only make it to the phone stage, they at least know they made it to the phone stage process and just aren’t stuck in that bubble for seven, eight, nine months wondering what happened.
Meg: Right. I’m thinking back to my spreadsheet of schools.
Carrie: Did you really have a spreadsheet?
Meg: God, of course I did.
Carrie: Was it color coded?
Meg: I cannot confirm or deny any of those things like that. Definitely color coded. There’s tabs and everything because you know like you have to keep things in order and with that many schools especially you know, schools with a similar, you know, state in a title or you’re going to interviews back to back. Like I was a crazy person and went to five on campus interviews like it was a lot on it is a lot. My emotional, mental and wallet health. Hopefully they’re reimbursing you on the wallet health. Yes, yes, absolutely.
Carrie: I think sometimes technology has changed the way we do job searches and I mean has totally everywhere, but I think even in a short amount of time. So I came out of higher ed graduate programs in 2006 I was applying to jobs like paper resume with a legit cover letter and Manila envelope mailed to apply for something I never heard back from those people. So UVA you still have an application for me somewhere 10 years later I really wanted whatever that job was, but I do remember the day I dropped my application off for a job at UVA 15 years ago. I never heard back. And so like your expectations are a little different. I think we get immediate like satisfaction so much from the internet. Like I’m mad at something, I’m going to tweet about it, I’m going to put it out there. And so we expect the same thing maybe in job applications.
Carrie: And so you applied super easy. My resumes ready to go, I uploaded, I answer your questions, I answer all the other stuff, I hit submit, I’m done. Super easy. And you can, you get that like feeling of accomplishment and I did it. I sent something in and so you expect that similar response and it doesn’t always happen that way because there are real live humans in the background making all these things work. The systems are really just collecting resumes. That’s all it is. They are just making piles of resumes for all the different jobs and there’s actually humans who are having to go through still, which I think is one of the great things about our industry is at least all the search committees I’m in, we will still take the time to read those cover letters and those resumes and your questions every time, every time. Really think about if you’re a great fit for them, and I love that it’s not just a computer ATS system that’s just reading it for keywords and saying yes, no, yes, no, yes, no like we’re real life humans at work behind the scenes.
Meg: Yeah, and that’s what’s going to set apart the quality of candidates that you bring on. I think it’s that human component.
Carrie: And human component has the error and that’s where I think some of that ghosting can come into play.
Meg: I have a bit of a, uh, student affairs horror story,
Meg: to share with you and I want your take of what could have done what could have and done better. Um, so the institution had a, I think it was, I don’t remember how many people applied for these open positions and I think there was a couple, um, same department, like all the positions were I guess the same level. They’ll say like coordinator level positions. The scary thing that happened was rather than sending everyone that did not pass, you know, the screening or that first round interview phase a, you know, no, thank you. We’re moving in a different direction. Um, rather than those emails and rather than even like, no, like a ghost. There was no ghosting at all. The horror story is all of these Stu, all of these, um, I guess they could, I guess they could have been grad students going into their first level positions, but all of these individuals got an email and were all CC’d on the same email.
Meg: stating that they had not gotten the position. Yeah.
Carrie: I want to crawl under my desk and die like just bury me right here send flowers to my grave.
Meg: I’m laughing but I’m actually wanting not to vomit it. But yeah, that’s a real thing. It happened. I saw it happen. What, you know, what, whose fault was that or how could that have been done differently? I don’t even know.
Carrie: So, um, that is typically when someone has probably copy and pasted emails into their outlook email and not use the system more than likely because all of those systems have like logic built into them to be like, do not include multiple people on the two line, you know, mask in their first names, those types of things. That is where I just want to cry thinking about it. But the big problem there is you’re trying to do things too quick. So from a search committee standpoint, taking the time and sending an individual email to each person versus copying everybody, putting them in the what you think is the BCC line and putting a generic Hey versus typing in someone’s name is where you can get into trouble and I think taking that time and recognizing if you don’t have a system that will do it for you, obviously like there’s an individual person on the other end of every rejection email and do you really want to risk everyone knowing each other because I’m sure that turned into a bit of a reply all thread.
Carrie: That was for the ages of people responding. I think that is where never ever, ever send a mass rejection email. That is just step one in saving yourself from humiliation. I also will say, not that I would ever do that, I would hope, but I probably could in a, in some life, I’m not the most detail oriented, so I would be that person who thought it was in the BCC line and it was totally in the CC line and then it died under my desk forever.
Carrie: Giving grace a little bit and saying, wow, that person, I just got rejected from a job, but that person just made a total fool of themselves to all of us and I feel bad for them. Um, and so I, you know, it cuts both ways and I think that is a horror story of horror stories and I feel bad for that person. But if you’re in the receiving end, the least you can have a really good story for your friends later that day that you will not believe the reply all email I was stuck on today. We all lost out on a job.
Meg: Let’s bond over that.
Carrie: Let’s bond over it everybody. Let’s get started. Job search work group together.
Meg: Yeah. I was told that story through a friend and I asked them, I was like, listen where you one of the people that got rejected and they just smiled. I was like, so sorry.
Carrie: I actually posted on the student affairs group on Facebook would private student affairs group. I was like, tell me your ghosting stories. I want to know like you’re your best go stories and how has this happened and obviously everybody was talking about being ghosted by employers, not so much for the people who missed out on people showing up for the first day of work and that type of ghosting, but it was amazing how many people had said that they had shown up, done the eight hour on campus in their best gear traipsed across campus, met the students, fell in love, and then never heard anything nor were reimbursed for their interview. And those are the people like, Oh, that breaks my heart for them that that’s their experience in our field. That’s what they thought and it’s driven them to a point where they may not be sure that this is the place for them.
Carrie: But I think we hear the horror stories, but there’s so few and far between. If you think about how many positions are posted in our field every single day, you think about TPE and the mass number of people going through a TPE, really the percentage of people who are ghosted is pretty small. That people who have a really super negative experience in the job search process is pretty small. I think we just talk about it a lot because usually it’s either neutral like yeah, I applied, I never heard, but I never made it anywhere. And that’s pretty, you know, common. The extreme great side is like I believe with a job and I have it or the negative of being, you know, ghosted essentially and going through everything, falling in love and then never hearing from people again. So I think we hang onto those stories. They’re like part of our are built into our blood of like, Oh, did you hear what happened to so-and-so?
Carrie: That’s crazy. Because they make really good stories and they help us bond together about this field that we’re in. So I think it happens, but I also think, I don’t think it necessarily happens at a horrendous, like 50% rate, let’s say like 25% or less is my guess on how much it’s really happening given how many roles there are out there in the world and how much turnover we have, especially at entry level positions. You know that those are switching out every two years. How many times can you hire a hall director for the same institution? Like every year your whole hiring hall directors and so it’s going to happen at some point.
Meg: Yeah. Carrie, some people struggle with not knowing what to do if they receive one job offer while waiting to learn if they got another offer from someone that they want maybe a little bit more.
Meg: And I was just curious, um, from your opinion, what should they do or is it okay to ghost on that first offer to take what they really want?
Carrie: Never ghost, we are not ghosting. Um, so if you are one of the lucky people to have multiple offers, first of all, congratulations. You are awesome. You should take that with you in the world and like carry it with pride. Always. Always, always. If you have an offer and you are waiting for another offer, be honest with the search committee and say Hey I’m super stoked for this. I’m assuming you are at this rate but I’m super excited for this offer. I am waiting to hear back about something else. Is there any way to extend my deadline to let you know? Um, and so like ask for that always second. Go to the people you’re waiting to hear back and tell them, Hey, I’m wanting to commodity. I just got a job offer, but you’re my number one choice. Where are we in this process? Um, that always helps speed up, I think.
Carrie: Um, I always want to know if there’s a candidate who has another offer because it will make me put pressure on whoever I need to put pressure on to get an answer as soon as I can. Now sometimes those answers can’t always be official. I might say, I’d love for you to hold on just a little longer. I think we’re gonna make this workout. You may have to read between the lines on things, but I think a lot of people that kind of lights fires and makes things prioritize real quick. If you accept something and then hear back from another employer, that’s a really tough spot to be in. Don’t go, don’t just not show up. Tell people what’s going on. Yeah. We call it in career services. It’s called reneging and it’s a big no, no. We talk about it with our students all the time.
Carrie: Like once you commit to something, you’ve committed to something, right. It really wants you to follow through because it reflects on your institution. It reflects in a lot of ways and it’s part of being an adult is you made a commitment to something, but things happen as well. Yeah, let’s be honest. And that’s where having really tough conversations is really helpful with every all the parties involved and saying, look, I really wanted this. I had no idea this opportunity came up. I don’t want to leave you hanging, but I also don’t think I can fulfill my commitment for sure. So letting people know and sometimes you just kinda have to like show up and eat Crow a little bit and say, I messed up. You know? So crows are less scary than ghosting I guess on my, I don’t know, analogies on a spectrum of scary things.
Carrie: Eating Crow versus a ghost or Poltergeist is totally different. Um, but yeah, I think letting people know is, is the key. We all have gotten into situations and jobs where we’re like, Oh, well this isn’t what I expected, but I don’t not show up for work. The next day I talked to my manager and say, Hey, you know, the job description said X , I’m really not doing X. How can we make that happen? How can I make this so it’s more fulfilling? So you come back to work, um, do people an opportunity don’t just disappear on them and it’s not fair if you mentally go a company, even though you’re physically still there. I think we see that a lot where you’re like mentally checked out. Oh my gosh, I’m done. I’m not even here. I’m just going to go through the motions until I can find something out. That’s just as bad to me as not physically showing up the first day because then you’re taking a seat from somebody who probably really loved this job.
Meg: Right, absolutely. Right. Carrie, how can folks who have been ghosted advocate for themselves or hold their ghosters accountable or is this even like the right action? I honestly don’t know. Yeah.
New Speaker: I think I would say hold accountable in an appropriate professional standpoint, so don’t go blasting on the Facebook groups. Don’t hashtag SApro people on Twitter saying they’re horrible, they never got back to me. No one should work there. Inappropriate accountability, appropriate accountability is following up. Letting somebody know and especially if it’s a hard core ghosting, like the extreme version of you never hear back from someone after you’ve been on and on campus and you paid out of pocket and we’re expecting to get reimbursed. To me, that goes to a certain level of reaching out to HR and saying, Hey, this happened to me. This is inappropriate. Who can I talk to about this experience? I don’t want it to reflect poorly on you as an institution, but I think someone should know that this happened.
Carrie: There is someone who does care at that institution because they want to have a really good reputation, so you have to find the right person. The right person is not Twitter or the Facebook group, right person is a real human somewhere in the institution who cares. So you may have to negotiate a little bit to find out who that is and to let them know what’s going on. And if you do it in a really appropriate way, people really gonna appreciate that you let them know. Oftentimes they may have people who are doing searches who’ve never been trained, and that tells them they need to get their training in order real quick. So I think you could definitely should advocate for yourself going through the process and make sure that you’re protecting yourself and your heart, your wallet, your brain, your physical being. Especially if you’ve been doing five on campus interviews in a short matter of time.
Carrie: Yeah, you definitely need to protect yourself. And so I think reaching out is absolutely appropriate and finding out where you are, especially if you’ve gone through the onsite process. If you haven’t heard back after a phone interview, that’s not fun. I’ll be really honest. No one wants that. Yeah. You kind of just feel like you’ve got just enough of a taste and you want to know what’s going on and then you get left hanging there. It’s, you know, it’s a spectrum of like level of accountability and so you may not get very far if you never hear back on a phone interview. But if you’ve gone on site and you never hear from people again, absolutely you need to talk to somebody and let them know what’s going on and let them know that Hey, maybe there was a, an issue with your system and your system should have sent me that form rejection letter but it didn’t. You should know this. True.
Meg: What is your top three tips for student affairs to just lay that ghosting to rest.
Carrie: Uh, how do we bring in the Ghostbusters, remove the ghosts from the process. Also the all female reboot boot oh gosh the all female reboot of Ghostbusters superior. That’s all I have to say.
Carrie: Thank you for coming to my Ted talk. I think their big three things for me. First communication, communication, communication. Always reach out to people. Never assume on both ends. Never assume that your candidates have ghosted you and never assume that the institution has ghosted you. Did you find out where you stand? Ask the questions. A nice check in is always appropriate and I think if people do that and that we will get so much further in life. I think two is understanding that ghosting is rejection in any form on the employer side or the employee searcher side and rejection is hard and rejection is emotional and so we have to be very aware that it’s emotional and check our emotions throughout the process and keep it from escalating to a Twitter war or anything like that. So just be aware and I think that would help.
Carrie: The third thing is to educate yourself about search processes so whether you are on a search committee and you want to be the best darn search committee there is and make sure all of your candidates feel really well taken care of and it into your institution and feel like they know where they are. Ask if you really don’t know how to be on search committee, there is no shame and asking for help and saying, what do I do? How do I handle this? Who should be doing this? Whose priority is this? Is this an HR role? Is this my role? Is it the HR managers role? Is it the hiring manager’s role and making sure you ask the questions and feeling like you’re really well informed and if you’re a searcher, making sure you’re really well informed about how search processes work at every place.
Carrie: In higher ed, we have a lot of different ways. You may send an email with someone, you may apply through a placement exchange, you may apply directly to a website. And so understanding how the process works and what your responsibility is through the process and then what your empowerment is to do during the process will help you navigate it really well. Some industries you have to take tests and do quizzes and do cases and do portfolios and they will make you jump through crazy hoops where we don’t necessarily see that we have the giant panel interviews, presentation or level of making people jump through crazy hoops right? Always ask, what is it going to be? What does this uh, interview look like? If you’re going on an interview, who do I talk to about reimbursement? How long is the process intended to take? When do you expect that? I will find out when do you expect someone to start this job? I think if you educate on both ends, everyone will kind of know where they stand and what their role is and so that will help prevent later kind of conflicts and breakdowns in communication.
Meg: Awesome. Thank you so much for joining me today. You have been an awesome guest to chat with. I appreciate everything.
Carrie: Thanks for having me, Meg. It’s been fun. It’s been fun and I need to come get my shindigs cake and see you as soon as possible. See if I can put some on dry ice and send it all the way to Florida. Yes. I’ll just smuggle it in some luggage. I don’t think the airline will be upset with me. No, I don’t think so. Not at all.
Meg: You’ve been listening to. Will there be food with me? Meg Sunga. My guest this week was Carrie Hawes, associate director of employer relations at the university of Richmond. You can follow Carrie at Twitter at C J double H if you are lucky. Obsessed with social media like me. Follow Will There Be Food at hello presence on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. For episode transcripts and show notes, had to presence.io/podcast. Don’t forget to rate us, subscribe, and share with all the friends and let us know what topics you want us to cover next. Will there be food is a production of presence. It’s hosted by me, Meg Sunga. The show is directed, edited, and mixed by our producer, Luke Burton. Our executive producer is Casandra Corrado. Catch us next week when we’ll be talking about supporting student veterans