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

Lessons in Adulting: When You Know Better, You Do Better

I sat next to my best friend on her queen sized, pillow top bed, surrounded by a mass of pillows doing what best friends do best, heart to hearts.

Her words stuck.

“As painful as it was, losing that friendship wouldn’t have mattered if you hadn’t learned anything.”

We were rehashing the loss of one of my closest friendships. What had gone wrong. Mistakes made on both sides. The scars it had left. What I learned from it. How I was planning to let go and move on.

I had done the unthinkable. I had written an emotional note ending the friendship. Worse than that, I sent a text. A text saying I couldn’t be friends anymore. The emotional, disgruntled note came later. (A note, might I add, that was written while I was slightly tipsy. Something I highly warn against- drunken notes.)

In 2016, I was a hot mess in more ways than one. 2017 saw a lot of growth, a lot, and boy, was it painful but so good. I grew to be more confident in my talents and gifts. I came to get to know and actually like the woman I saw staring back at me in the mirror. I learned to say no, to set boundaries with other people and to make self-care a priority.

Twenty-Something Advice (for anyone): “When you know better, you do better.”

I am realizing that sometimes, in order to move higher, whether in relationships, friendships, career or love, you have to let go of some things, some bad habits, some old ways of thinking, some hurts, some insecurities. Letting go is the only way to move forward, to improve, to go higher.

My poor decision making has made some of my weaknesses rather apparent. Avoiding confrontation. Check. Writing break-up letters to friends instead of communicating. Check. Holding on to people and things past their expiration dates. Check.

The saying goes, “Old habits die hard,” meaning it is hard to stop doing things that one has been doing for a long time. While this bears much weight, I believe it is possible for old habits to die once you acknowledge that they no longer serve you.

One of my favorite sayings of all time I first heard from Maya Angelou. She said,”When you know better, you do better.”

I know better now. While I’ll never be perfect (and that’s perfectly OK), I know better than I once did. So I am going to do my darndest to apply that knowledge and be a better version of myself. Mark my words- I will never write an angry breakup letter to a friend again. (It kinda sucks for the other person, and it is just really unfair in terms of healthy communication.) I will be more brave in the face of conflict and confrontation and not shy away from it just because it’s hard.

In what ways in your career, relationships or friendships, can you apply the  knowledge you’ve attained through self-awareness? What habits can you let go to move higher? Here’s to moving forward in 2018 to better things!

-Stephkt

Say What You Need to Say

The sky is overcast and the ground is damp from the morning rain showers. Today is a quiet day in quaint, little Tulsa, Oklahoma. The perfect day for rain boots, cozy sweaters, hot cocoa and movie marathons. It is also the perfect day for writing. I haven’t been blogging as frequently the last three months since my move from Minneapolis to Tulsa. I guess I have just been cultivating ideas. They say the best writing comes with experience and I have been experiencing a lot.

My biggest prayer for 2013 has been for growth. To grow as a young woman, as a sister, as a daughter, as a career woman, as a friend and as someone who will someday be a wife and mother. Growth. That has been my focus all year. The saying, “Be careful what you wish for,” is no joke! While good and healthy, growth isn’t easy! At times, it can be downright painful. For me, 2013 has been tragically and uncomfortably beautiful. I have been pushed, humbled, tested, knocked down, shaken, pressured and humbled again. But I wouldn’t take back a minute of it.

I recently encountered some controversy in my life. What it came down to was my willingness to speak up for myself. I will be the first to admit that I struggle in the “communication in conflict” arena. I am guilty of being a people pleaser. I like to get along with everyone. I do not like when people don’t like me. It sucks! In the past. I would have rather not spoken up for myself when I was frustrated or when I felt hurt or disrespected, if it meant keeping peace. Instead of speaking up for myself, I have developed the habit of being quiet. I basically crawl into this little shell and hope no one notices until my hurts and frustrations have passed. But trust me, people take notice.

speakup2Here’s what I am learning: It’s always better to speak up. Say what you need to say, as long as you are doing it in a truthful, respectful and loving way. You cannot live your life for other people. If someone is taking advantage of you, speak up. If someone is being dishonest, speak up. If a friend, coworker or significant other is doing something that affects you negatively, speak up. Because if you don’t, you will keep trying to hide in that little invisible shell and never be heard. You will only bottle things up and hurt yourself. If you are never honest and live to please everyone around you, you will never have the freedom to become the truest version of yourself. And what kind of life is that?

This lesson especially applies to twenty somethings. We are at the beginning of the rest of our lives, the beginning of our careers and the beginning of adulthood. We will have so many opportunities at work and with relationships, friendships and family to speak our truths. I want to master this lesson now while I am 23 and not go a moment longer allowing myself to be anyone’s doormat. Is honesty always going to be easy? No. Sometimes people may not receive what you have to say. They may get upset or offended, but as long as you are approaching the situation with honesty and kindness, that’s all that matters. You have no control over another person’s response.

Twenty Something Advice for Anybody:

“In the end, it’s better to say too much then never to say what you need to say again.”

John Mayer, Say What You Need to Say

Whether you are the person who is never honest, follows the crowd and seeks approval, or you are the person who stays true to who you really are, someone isn’t going to like you. Why not then be true to yourself and live a life of honesty and integrity? I have come to accept this and it is the biggest relief. I do not have to walk on eggshells anymore to make everyone pleased with me. There will always be naysayers. There will always be people who don’t like you and I. My hope is that we stop caring about what “they” think and be true to ourselves in work, family, friendships and dating relationships.

speakup1There is a mantra I read recently that I love: “Love all. Please One.” Focus on being kind and compassionate to everyone but don’t concern yourself with making everyone happy. Instead, focus on living a life of honesty and integrity. For me, this mantra means I have the freedom to be kind and good to everyone, but I am only focused on pleasing God. This is such a relief! Because there’s so much freedom in truth.

These are just some of my lessons learned as a twenty something. I hope by sharing, I can encourage and uplift you. Here’s a little music inspiration: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7JONA_6ZCrE

-Stephkt