I Was Ghosted by a Job Recruiter, but I Came Out Stronger

Recently, I was offered a managing editor position. (Exciting news!) It was for a women’s lifestyle website based here in L.A.

Phone interview with CEO and Marketing Director. Check.

Edit test. (A mandatory step for any editorial job.) Check.

The hiring manager (we’ll call her Sabrina) offered me the job. It was the best feeling in the world. Small reminder of my background: I was laid off from my last editorial job in January 2017. I have spent the last year hustling in LA as a freelance journalist and traveling the world. (I even got to live in Italy!)

It’s been one heck of ride. To land an editorial job within my second month of returning from abroad to America was great news! It felt like all my hard work had paid off, and the finish line for the endless marathon I was running was in sight.

The hiring manager wanted me to start in four business days. (Red flag!) Then, the figurative floor was pulled out from under me. I responded the next day to the job offer asking about start dates and about the possibility of coming in to meet the team because I had not done so during the interview process (Another red flag!)

I did not hear back. So much silence you could hear a pen drop from China! (Big red flag) A week later, I followed up and to my pleasure, I received a response. The hiring manager connected me with HR for the brand’s parent company in New York.

I spoke with the HR coordinator two days later. (We’ll call him Ernie.) To my surprise, when Ernie called me, instead of giving me information about start date, pay rate and meeting the team, he called with questions for me about these things. He said that he would find out the information ASAP.

No answers. No information. No details.

I followed up with Ernie the next day thanking him for taking the time to speak with me and asked his timeline for when he might have information about start rate and pay. Another week and a half passed, and I heard nothing from the hiring manager in LA or Ernie in NYC.

Nothing.

Much to my pride’s dismay, I followed up ONE MORE TIME, this time CCing Sabrina and Ernie. Ernie responded, and he gave me a call two days later. The information he relayed was disheartening and confusing: He said the CEO has another candidate in mind she would like to consider and asked if we could “press pause,” while she considers this other candidate.

When I explained to him my confusion about this other candidate and I relayed that I had already been offered the job, he got quiet. He didn’t even know I had been offered the job. He apologized for the miscommunication amongst his team, and he said he would get back to me ASAP about the status of the position and the confusion.

I haven’t heard from Ernie in three weeks. I was, for lack of a better word, ghosted by this HR coordinator, the hiring manager and the CEO.

Ghosting.

A commonly used twenty-first century phrase. Something that millennials and Gen Z’ers poke fun at, but many (if not most of us) are guilty of having commited this crime of poor communication at one time or another. I am included in this group- I have definitely ghosted a guy or two and a friend who I believed was no longer a healthy fit. (Not my proudest communication moments.)

For those readers who are my parents’ age and older, ghosting essentially means falling off the face of the Earth. Mostly found in dating scenarios, it is when a guy or girl stops responding without explanation or reason. They disappear like a ghost.

Other words for it could be scapegoating, avoidance, dodging, ignoring or stonewalling. It’s a way of avoiding communication, of avoiding difficult conversations and conflict.

While I knew this behavior was common in the dating realm, I did not know that ghosting can even happen in the job market. When I was ghosted in the job process, I honestly did not know how to feel. I was offered the job, and then, I was given little to no communciation about why the team changed direction. They did not even officially rescind the offer (That’s the professional thing to do!) They literally just disappeared.

Nothing. Disappeared into thin air. Gone.

I have never heard of something like this happening in a professional or work environment. So I did not know who to turn to. I was frustrated, confused, disappointed, hurt and let down. I did not know how to process how I felt. To say I was upset (in my Drake voice) would have been an understatement.

It seems that our social media and Internet culture has greatly altered communication. On one hand, it has made it fast and easy to connect with people around the world. You never have to miss a thing happening in your friends’ or family’s lives who are far away, but it has also made avoiding communication (a part of which is healthy conflict) possible.

If you don’t want to break up with that girl face to face, then you can shoot her a Facebook message. (I have heard of this happening.) If you don’t want to go on another date with a guy, then you can just stop answering. Apparently, if you change your mind about a candidate, then you can ignore her too.

Let me be 100 percent honest- This is not OK. Conflict, hard conversations and honesty moments are a part of healthy communication. No friend, family member, boyfriend, girlfriend or job recruiter (specifically when they have offered you the job) should be falling off the face of the Earth. It’s lazy. It’s unfair to the person on the other end of the closed off communication channel.

I say all of this not in exemption of myself. I am learning hard conversations should never be had over a text. I need to call that person up or speak in person. I don’t get to stonewall you and go silent. It is unfair and immature.

This job situation sucked, BUT it absolutely made my resolve stronger. I love LA, and I want to be here. I want to work in women’s media as an editor. I am no quitter. I am tough. One opportunity gone sour will not detour me nor shake my confidence. I choose to allow it to make me stronger.

In hindsight, I know the job was not for me. If it was really mine, then it would have been offered to me, no ghosting or lapses in communication necessary. A coworker of mine made the best and most hilarious analogy. He said basically this company wanted to make me their side piece while they decided if this other candidate was the best fit. (A side piece is when a guy has a girlfriend but also has another girl on the side- super pathetic.)

Twenty-Something Advice (for Anyone): “When money and your livelihood are involved, it can be easy to settle, which is all the more reason why you should not. Don’t settle.”

I don’t want to be anybody’s side piece! No ma’am, not me. I need to respect myself in the professional realm as I would in a dating relationship or friendship. While I am sure the other candidate is a badass in the editorial world, so am I. I am valuable. I am a talented writer and editor.

Whatever your dreams or goals are, I encourage you not to settle. Do not settle for being second choice or for second-rate communication, pay or benefits. Ask for what you’re worth. Know your value.

Lastly, do not ghost people. To put it simply, it’s lame. Hold yourself accountable. Communicate why you are walking away from something or someone. That is the adult thing to do, communication, honesty and transparency. Treat people how you would want to be treated.

With hope,

Stevie

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If It Smells Like Pride and Looks Like Pride, It’s Probably Pride

Honesty moment: I recently realized a personal vice of mine, pride.

My form of pride does not present itself in the typical form, which makes it harder to spot.

I am not like the Kims and Kanyes of the world. The over-indulgent, self-absorbed, selfie-loving, me-focused personalities. It’s a quieter, more subtle kind of pride.

My form of pride is one where I choose to withold things, whether it be my gifts or talents, my emotions- good or bad, my thoughts and opinions. I withhold communication because it’s easier to shut down than do the work of being honest and, most uncomfortable of all, vulnerable. (Yikes!)

I have always thought that steering clear of the spotlight was a commendable trait. I thought it was a form of humility, especially when it comes to talents. I thought it was better to always allow other people to take center stage and for me to step back. I thought this was normal, healthy and even admirable.

I am an artsy person, which makes living in LA such an adventure. It’s a city of creatives- actors, dancers, singers, writers, musicians and artists. It’s such a gift living in a city full of passionate people.

Talking to my artsy peers, I have found that they share a common struggle as me, wanting to withhold their gifts, talents and passions. Why? Because it’s so much easier than putting yourself out there-for ridicule, for rejection, for judgment and to be torn apart by people’s opinions.

I love to sing, but rarely, have I shared this gift. I love to write, but it took almost seven years for me to actively share my blog with people. Why? I did not want the attention but more so, the possible failure that could come from sharing my passions.

Here’s what I am learning- My gifts, my talents, my passions are not for or about me. When I withhold these things from the world, I am limiting what God can do in and through me. Diming my own light won’t make anyone else’s shine brighter. Only by shining do I give other people permission to shine. Only by sharing do I encourage other people to do the same.

Twenty-Something Advice (for Anybody): “Diming my own light won’t make anyone else shine brighter.”

I am still learning that sharing is a part of the human experience- the good, the bad and the not so pretty. I write this blog “Life as Told by an Upcoming Twenty-Something” so I can allow other people into my story, the wins, the losses, the failures and the beauty from ashes moments.

What I know is my story, my life, is not all about me but about the people journeying with me. Humility says, “Hey, this is me- the good and bad. The strengths and weaknesses. I want to let you see me.”

Here’s to identifying pride- even the sneaky, hard to spot kind.

With hope,

Stevie

Cliques, Mean Girls and Old Friends: Revisiting High School 10 Years Later

One of my friends said it best. “So much has changed. Yet, so much has stayed the same.”

Last weekend was my 10-year high school reunion. (For my high school in Michigan. I split my high school years between two states- Michigan and Oklahoma). I woke up at 6 a.m., did my hair and make-up, put on a gown, and hopped on a plane at LAX to Detroit. I went straight from the airport to the reunion.

Fresh 6 a.m. makeup did not last!

Can I just say, I had the absolute BEST time. While I have seen all of my closest friends numerous times throughout the last decade (I lived with one of them and another I came home for her Master’s graduation last year), it was nice to be in the same place at the same time with a big group of my peers.

It was nice to see people I grew up with excelling and doing well. To see them happy made me happy. It felt good to just hug a few necks and swap life stories- even if only for a moment.

Lets call it a nice little pit stop on the journey to adulthood.

I laughed so hard this weekend. Friends recounted old stories, some embarrassing and all hilarious. (Most of which, might I add, I do not remember!)

Twenty-Something Advice (for Anybody): “Maturity is not something that comes with age. Maturity is a journey you choose to embark on.”

The weekend was well spent. The class officers from my grade did a really good job planning a classy event. It was overall a win.

The only downside- when you revisit the past, you find some things and some people stay in the past. After 10 years since graduating high school, there still seemed to be the cliques, the haves and have nots, the popular and not popular, the mean girls.

I was reminded that not everyone grows up just because time passes. I was encouraged by my peers and friends who have grown and who are doing amazing things, who are working toward a purpose.

I was surprised by others who had not changed at all. I am reminded that maturity and wisdom (taking your mistakes and learning from them and choosing to do better) is a choice.

Ten years changes some things, but some people and things don’t change. I think one of the greatest joys of growing older is just not caring. Not caring about what people think, or about the number of likes on a photo, or who is dating whom, or who is wearing what.

If there’s anything I could tell high school me 10 years ago, I’d tell her, “Care less about what other people think and to use your voice to speak up for other people more. Laugh more and enjoy your friends- not all will be here 10 years from now. Mean girls may always be mean girls, but shake off the haters. Don’t be afraid to stand up to them. Other people’s opinions are not your business. You will attract the type of people you are.”

Cheers to revisiting the past from time to time but always, always moving forward!

In loving memory of one of my greatest friends, Felicia Diane Robinson.

With hope,

Stevie

I Am a Woman- and I Won’t Apologize

I am a woman.

I won’t apologize.

I am black. I’ve got curly-kinky hair and hips that don’t lie. I am a millennial, a twenty-something still figuring it out.

I won’t apologize.

I am a woman.

I am intelligent. Sometimes I use big words in conversation without meaning to, and I know more about sports than some men. I am a book nerd and always eager to travel and learn. There’s so much I don’t know.

I won’t apologize.

I am a woman.

I am quirky and dorky. I am one of the clumsiest people I know. I trip on things I see, and I forget things people just told me, but I have learned to laugh at myself. Authenticity is better than pretense.

I won’t apologize.

I am a woman.

I am a girls’ girl. Some of my very best friends are women. I have never had a sister, but I have friends who are like sisters. I cheer them on in their successes and hold their hand in their pain. I try to show up as often as I can, and when we don’t see eye to eye, I try to make amends.

I won’t apologize.

I am a woman.

Some women don’t like me. All women do not get along. This is a reality. Whether competition, miscommunication, or lack thereof, women don’t always like each other. That’s normal. I am OK with not being everyone’s cup of tea.

I won’t apologize.

I am a woman.

I am fiercely independent. I will probably research how to repair something rather than ask for help. I like to do things for myself. I have no problem moving heavy boxes or fixing a flat tire on my own, but I have learned it’s OK to ask for help too.

I won’t apologize.

I am a woman.

I am a feminist, but I love men. (The two aren’t mutually exclusive.) I am learning to build up and honor the men in my life up with words. Yet, I will never play small, shrink back or diminish my intellect or value for a man. I believe I am just as valuable as the guy next to me.

I won’t apologize.

I am a woman.

I am tough. I have had my share of hard times, loves lost, and friendships fade and come out stronger on the other side. I know it’s OK to not always be OK and that there’s beauty in vulnerability. I am both sensitive and strong.

I won’t apologize.

I am a woman, and it’s beautiful.