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4 Reasons Ghosting an Employer is a Bad Idea

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Ghosting is a term usually used in online dating to describe "standing up" a date or connection. However, it's been used in the job market when employees disappear from the application process, interviews, or even on-the-job. Learn four reasons ghosting is a bad idea and a few strategies to use when you want to ghost an employer.

4 Reasons Ghosting an Employer is a Bad Idea

Ghosting is a term that’s commonly used in online dating to describe “standing up” a date or connection. You just disappear from the person’s life and end all contact without giving any explanation. In June 2018 LinkedIn, a social network of professionals published an article about ‘ghosting’ at work, and why it’s driving companies crazy.

Amanda Bradford, CEO, and founder of the League, a dating app told LinkedIn that ghosting has “almost become a new vocabulary” in which “no response is a response” among people in the younger generations. She pointed out that ghosting used to be limited to dating but has moved to the job market in recent years.

How Do Employees Ghost an Employer

Ghosting at work can happen anywhere along the career journey, from an applicant, job candidate, to employee. Some potential candidates start speaking with a recruiter or hiring manager only to disappear without a trace. However, it’s not just in the early stages of an employee relationship when this happens. Employees have been known to pack up for the night and never show up again.

Nurses have been ranked as the most trusted profession again, for the seventeenth year in a row. How can those who wear badges as the most trusted profession just skip out on an employer, co-workers, and patients?

Well, it happens. When I was managing a group of case management nurses, I learned first hand what ghosting is all about. I had hired nurse A, who had several years of experience as a case manager. She was doing well in the role. However, she seemed to struggle a bit in the environment and with peers. We talked about how to acclimate to the work environment, and I helped her make a few changes to her work schedule to get her more time with a mentor. With extra support from me and a mentor, she seemed to be doing a bit better.  

One day, I was sitting at my desk when a fellow manager called to chat. She said,  “Hey, what happened to nurse A? I saw her leaving with a box of what looked like personal belongings.” Of course, I had no response because I thought everything was improving.

I walked over to Nurse A’s desk to find that all of her belongings were gone. There was no note, no email, and no phone call. The only thing she left was an empty desk and a full queue of clients that had to be transferred to a few already overloaded case managers. I tried calling and emailing to get a better an idea as to what happened and to make sure she was okay, but even my attempts at contact were ghosted.

Five Reasons Ghosting is Bad

There are a few reasons that ghosting your employer is just a bad decision. Here are four reasons you shouldn’t ghost an employer.

Puts Your Reputation at Risk

If you walk out without any notice or communication, you need to understand that no one will likely get a warm, fuzzy feeling the next time you see any former co-workers. Nursing is a hard profession, and when you leave your employer and fellow nurses in a lurch, it stings. You won’t be remembered as the employee that was great at patient care, even if you were. You will forever be the nurse that walked out without notice.

Shuts Down Networking Opportunities

Managers, recruiters, and human resources professionals talk. They network at conferences, meetings, and other events. They will name drop or ask about potential employees. And, if your name and the phrase, “he ghosted us” comes up in a convo, there is a good chance you might not move forward in the hiring process.

You might also find that your lateral networking system goes dark after ghosting your employer. Nurses who you thought were your “friends” might decide that they don’t like the way you left and not reach out or respond. This can hurt your future prospects at networking events and jobs

Adds Stress to Your Coworkers and Employer

Nursing units across the country are faced with staffing issues and high nurse to patient ratios. When you’re name is on the schedule to work 7a-7p, everyone from the hospital administrator to the patient relies on you showing up. Ghosting can increase safety issues on the unit where you were to work and skyrocket the stress levels of everyone there.

Burns Bridges

Many hospitals and other healthcare facilities are affiliated. So, if you ghost hospital ABC, you are likely to be placed on a do-no-hire list for the entire organization. This could limit your job opportunities at skilled nursing facilities, surgical centers, and home care and hospice agencies.  If you live in a rural, small, or even moderate size city, you could find yourself having a difficult time getting hired again.

Try This Instead

While ghosting isn’t a good practice, accepting a new job or staying in a current position that isn’t a good fit isn’t a good idea either. You have to learn a few good strategies for speaking up for yourself and letting employers know what you’re thinking and what you need.

Here are a few simple ways to communicate your needs without ghosting:

Learn how to say ”no” gracefully. You can tell a future employer that you don’t think the job is for you in a courteous manner that doesn’t burn bridges.

If you are unhappy with your current job and are ready to walk way - give the minimum amount of notice needed. If you don’t think you can handle another two weeks on the job, talk to your manager to see if there is a possibility of being able to step out gracefully before the two weeks are up.

If you’re having an issue on the job, talk to your supervisor. If there is a situation that makes talking to your manager tense, request that you have another member of management or human resources present for any discussions.

If you do ghost and then feel bad about it, reach out by sending an email and explaining the situation. It probably won’t build any bridges with that employer, but it does show that you are thinking about your reputation for the future.

Have you ever ghosted a recruiter or interview? Have you ever left a job without notice? Or, maybe you’re like me, and you were ghosted by an employee. Share your thoughts about the subject below.

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Melissa is a Quality Assurance Nurse, professor, writer, and business owner. She has been a nurse for over 20 years and enjoys combining her nursing knowledge and passion for the written word. You can see more of her work at www.melissamills.net.

83 Likes, 6 Followers, 86 Articles, 18,987 Visitors, and 235 Posts.

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No offense meant at all and truly not to take away from the actual content of the article, but I cringed when reading this title. It reminds me of parents who try to be cool by saying the "hip" new vocabulary and it just seems awkward and out of place. I think I'm getting too old.😖

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While I believe it is a bad idea I can see why some might do this. Maybe they have already spoke to manager with either empty promises or zero attempt to deal with concerns. Maybe they feel no loyalty towards an employer because they have learned the employer has no loyalty towards them. I have never done this, nor think it is a good idea because it will probably bite you in the end, but I can see why someone might do this without thinking through the potential consequences.

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In too many workplaces, HR is notorious for ghosting candidates. Not even a form email that someone else was chosen, thanks for applying etc. 

I wonder where these disappearing nurses learned this tactic from? Perhaps it is a new (un)professional trend?

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I haven't ever 'ghosted' an employer, I always give 2 weeks notice.  I have been on the receiving end though.  I worked in a position a long time ago where only one nurse was on evening shift (me) and one was on night shift.  Well the night shift nurse quit without notifying anyone and 'ghosted' me.  To say I was beyond pi**ed would be putting it mildly.  What I have done, sorry to say, is accept a position and then a much better position called me with an offer and I rescinded my first acceptance (prior to starting though).  I guess the bottom line is that I feel loyal to my coworkers, supervisors, and patients.  But I don't feel loyal an organization.

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Also, I wouldn't feel guilty "ghosting' HR at all.  They've been on a power trip for years and don't give a d*** about leaving applicants flapping in the breeze IMO

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I think it's unprofessional to leave without notice -- for all the reasons stated in the article.  I've never left a job without notice, and only once left a job without having another lined up.  

I'm sorry for all the people who seem to believe that the hospital has no loyalty to their employees.  In forty years, I have never worked for an institution that didn't value and wasn't loyal to their employees.  

I personally don't understand why anyone would "ghost" an employer.  Nursing is a small world.  When my manager on the west coast fired a nurse after three consecutive no call/no shows, the nurse went looking for a job at my old hospital.  My old manager called me and asked me what I thought of her.  A nurse I worked with on the east coast moved to the west coast, and ended up working for an old friend of mine on my recommendation.  If you don't think managers talk to each other, you're wrong.  Quitting without notice on the east coast may bite you in the butt even if you move all the way to the west coast.  And vice versa.

 

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Recently, I gained employment with an organization which budgeted for a 6 week orientation/training program prior to have me work by myself.  This period of time allows for both parties to assess each other and hopefully continue an employer/employee relationship for years to come.  Unfortunately, I did not like what I saw and gave my notice on the fifth week.  Since I was still on orientation, the employer and I did not see the point on continuing employment as I would be leaving soon; so they gladly accepted my resignation effective immediately.

 

I do not recommend anyone to “ghost” employers, but be mindful of resignations during orientation, they may be deemed effective immediately.  However, it’s better than no notice at all.

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Years ago we had a fellow get rehired to a hospital I worked for after he had left for some time. He was there for a week,  then just didn't show up one day, no warning. 

It turns out he had obtained a director of nursing job at a different hospital in the state I found out. 

So far, at 2 other hospitals I have warned upper management when he applied for management positions. Of course he had left my former hospital off his resume. He had impressed them in the interview and was close to being hired. Management was very grateful for the information. 

Nursing is a small world.

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We had a nurse on my unit give notice the morning before she was scheduled to work several night shifts in a row... so less than one day's notice and she left us all in the lurch. Let's just say I don't think she will ever be working in my hospital system again. 

It's not wise to burn your bridges even if you think you won't be coming back. 

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On 1/28/2019 at 7:26 PM, RNperdiem said:

In too many workplaces, HR is notorious for ghosting candidates. Not even a form email that someone else was chosen, thanks for applying etc. 

I wonder where these disappearing nurses learned this tactic from? Perhaps it is a new (un)professional trend?

You really have a valid point! I have been ghosted by human resources many times. However, in certain states, you have to really be careful about ghosting employers. For example in my state, there are 3 hospital systems in the whole state. So if you ghost one, your chances of employment are greatly reduced. 

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