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Advice / Job Search / Interviewing

How to Handle Getting Ghosted During Your Job Search

You’ve probably heard the term ghosted. And even if you aren’t familiar with the word, you may’ve experienced it at some point (though, when I was single, the “slow fade” was the in-vogue way to end a relationship without “the talk”).

But ghosting doesn’t just happen in the context of dating. Who hasn’t applied for a job, certain that you and the hiring manager had a bright future together, only to have him or her fall completely out of touch? You watched the process proceed from submitting materials, to multiple interviews, to things that indicate finalist status (like take-home assignments and follow-up discussions on salary), and just when you thought there was a really good chance you’re going to get hired: You hear nothing—ever again.

Suddenly, the interviewer won’t return your emails or answer your calls. He or she doesn’t even have the decency to tell you someone else got the job instead. Instead, you see the listing disappear from the company’s webiste, only to be replaced shortly after with a shiny new face on the team page. You got ghosted—and it’s upsetting as anything.

But, before you make start posting angry Facebook statuses and warning all your friends to stay away from this two-timing company, keep the following dos and don’t’s in mind:

1. Do Mourn

Muse Editor-in-Chief Adrian Granzella Larssen suggests that one of the first things you do after getting turned down for a job is allow yourself to be really unhappy about it. (Not to mention, the added confusion of thinking you’d done everything right just for the opportunity to vanish is all the more reason to feel upset.)

The important thing here is to let it out in private. Tell your closest confidantes, but don’t go posting on social media or telling anyone who’ll listen that Company X is actually a bunch of a-holes. Also, don’t do what I did, and find a peripheral LinkedIn contact to message to “inquire” if that’s how things were done at her company, just you know, “to get a sense of the culture there.” (It’s pretty obvious that you’re venting—to a relative stranger—and the only person who’ll come off looking bad is you.)

Which brings me to my next point…

2. Don’t Send an “I’m Better Off Without You” Email

One of the ways to get over missing out on a big opportunity is to think through all the reasons why you’re really better off without it. Maybe the organization is third in its field, and you think, you’re really more of a number one company type of person. Maybe you thought the coffee in the break room tasted like mud.

Or, real talk: Maybe you feel really hurt that you spent hours applying to this company, and the fact that the hiring manager won’t acknowledge that with a “thank you for your time” email means you think the organization doesn’t care about people.

Go ahead: Feel that way. But do not put these feelings in an email to anyone who works there. I promise you: No matter how professionally and eloquently you think you’re phrasing your dismay, writing an “I really wish you’d told me the outcome, but believe me I’m over it now” email is never a good idea.

Related: 5 Follow Up Emails That Scare Hiring Managers (and What to Write Instead)

3. Do Keep it in Perspective

Yes, you can swear that if you’re ever on the other side of the hiring process, you’ll make sure every single candidate is informed of the outcome and thanked for the effort he spent applying. And I hope you do someday—because it’ll mean a lot to a lot of people.

But before you go assuming your interviewer is just evil, remember it could be a company policy that she has no control over. For example, I once worked at a place with a “no feedback” policy. So, when applicants asked what they could have done differently, all I was allowed to say was that they weren’t a match for the opportunity at that time. It didn’t mean I personally wanted to keep them from growing and improving, I was just following procedures.

The nice thing about remembering this is that it can help you feel less angry at the company. After all, haven’t we all had policies we might’ve written differently if we were in charge? And, if this is a big fish, it’s a way to keep your options open. You may want to apply there again someday, and you’ll be glad that you didn’t burn any bridges—and that you know not to get your hopes up until you’re looking at a written offer letter.

4. Don’t Let it Affect Your Other Applications

You want to learn from experience. So, after a company ghosts you, you want to be extra diligent with future companies. When an interviewer says, he’ll “be in touch with next steps early next week,” you want to be sure that’s not a non-committal “I’ll call you.” Is early next week Monday or Tuesday? What exactly are the next steps? When can you check in again?

Suddenly, you’ve transformed from a top candidate to an obsessive, impatient question asker—not at all the impression you were trying to make.

So, as hard as it may be, you need to let it go and remember that each hiring process will be different. Getting ghosted sucks, but carrying that baggage around to your next interview isn’t doing you any favors.

When you apply for a job, it’s because you’re hoping to get hired. Getting rejected is disappointing, and getting ghosted can be all the more upsetting. Bouncing back, staying positive, and keeping an eye out for the next opportunity may not be easy, but it’ll help you keep going during a long job search.

Photo of waiting for a call courtesy of Shutterstock.