There’s been much talk recently about digital “ghosting”…whether it’s socially or now, there’s a new term: career ghosting.
I suppose it’s like being sent to Coventry in the old days. Where someone doesn’t return your calls or avoids you, or doesn’t speak to you. Except in this era of everyone being plugged in and digital, it’s even easier to do it to someone, a chickens way out.
I’ve recently been ghosted by someone who used to be a great friend, a former work colleague. We’d kept in touch with a gang of us for many, many years since we’d left that original workplace where we first met. We’d laugh. We’d cry, we celebrated each other’s weddings, babies…you name it, we were there – albeit often with long gaps, it never felt that way. So, we definitely didn’t live in each others’ pockets, we are both in totally different parts of the country, but the connection and fun was always there. But then things changed last year, suddenly and inexplicably. And so now, no message is answered, no call, no email. There have been a couple of occasions when she did reply – but only with a one word answer, a yes or a no.
I honestly do not know why. My last contact was “Have I done something to offend you?” which received one word “No.” Well, clearly something’s up. She started posting a lot on instagram so I’ve tried to engage there, how cute her kid is etc. But nothing back. So I’ll hit the unfollow button, as it seems a fairly clear message is being sent. Flipping heck I thought I’d left this kind of thing behind with school. Which, with the benefit of hindsight seemed a doddle. I really feel for our kids who will be entering this digital world of mixed messages.
So I’m left confused and in all honestly, feeling like a little kid seeking approval. And I miss her.
Then there’s the other end of the spectrum, the career ghosting. Another already tricky bit of navigating life has been further complicated by online applications, CV screening for key words and an often cursory glance by someone who on the whole, has far less experience than the person they’re judging.
I’ve worked for many years in my profession and yet 20 years in, I’ve had job rejections for roles I could do standing on my head, really positive interviews for really senior roles – and then, silence. I just don’t understand why it’s so difficult to communicate with people. It leaves you feeing, well, ashamed. Inadequate. Like you’ve done something wrong.
Having recruited 1000s of roles myself during my career, replying to applicants was an awful lot more time consuming when a letter had to be printed off and posted. Or a tonne of phone calls had to be made to update candidates. Yet here we are being ignored, experience overlooked and at the hands of bots deciding whether we’re ticking all the boxes.
Surely it’s employer brand suicide? But apparently not, because there are fewer jobs than there are applicants in many fields, whereas those with newer, more in demand skills probably don’t get ghosted quite so often I guess. But, in all honesty, there is a growing list of companies now, that I wouldn’t touch with a barge-pole.
So, if you’re busy ghosting someone yourself right now, maybe think about how that might feel and even if you feel the relationship has run its course, just drop a polite note saying so in a tactful way. Play nicely. It doesn’t take much.
And if you’re the one being socially ghosted? Concentrate on the nice people you have in your life and don’t give the ghost the energy it doesn’t deserve. If it’s professionally, keep it in perspective and remember that sometimes it’s a case of politics, restructures and dare I say it, inefficiency – it’s not always actually about you that things haven’t moved forward in the way that you expected. Whatever you do, don’t fire off an angry email… You’ll only feel better for about 2 nanoseconds before you have huge regret.
In both cases, ultimately it’s about them, not you. In the meantime, I’ll be concentrating on the many lovely people in my life, and hopefully giving something back to them too. And ultimately, I’ll remind myself of the old adage “there’s nowt as queer as folk”.