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.
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.
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.