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Are You Ghosting and Don’t Even Know It?

Posted October 26, 2021

Jennifer Reeves
ghosting

It’s easy to scroll past reminders and articles about “ghosting” when you’ve never missed an interview and always show up on time. But ghosting a dental practice or dental candidate is not just limited to interviews. Non-responsiveness from both parties in the hiring process kills industry morale and adds to an already stressful time for dentistry. 

“Ghosting,” as defined by SHRM (the Society for Human Resource Management), is when a potential employer or candidate severs all communication without any explanation or warning. And it happens on both sides of the relationship. In todays’ tight dental hiring market, it’s more commonly the job seeker who is non-responsive or a no show to a scheduled interview. In some extreme cases, candidates may even accept an offer, and then fail to show up on their first day of employment. While it’s less common these days for an employer to be non-responsive or go radio silent on a candidate that has applied to their posting, it does happen.  

All aspects of ghosting and non-responsiveness are unacceptable no matter which party is doing it. 

Being Non-Responsive To Candidate/Potential Employer Is A Form of “Ghosting”

While it’s egregious behavior to not show up for an interview after you’ve confirmed with the employer, and even worse to not show up for your first day on the job after you’ve accepted an offer, being non-responsive after you’ve applied or expressed interest in a job is also a problem. If you have chosen to have your resume public, you should expect to be contacted. So, if a hiring manager reaches out to you and you are not interested in their opportunity, a simple “no thank you, but I appreciate your interest” is all that is necessary.  

Hiring is a mutual selection process, just like dating, where one person expresses interest, and then the other either reciprocates or doesn’t. When we refuse to communicate our lack of interest, we do two things––we rob that person of the respect and dignity of their time, and, ultimately, we hurt ourselves and our reputation as a dental professional. It kills morale and adds to prolonged stress from the post-pandemic challenges. 

Reasons Why Employer & Candidate Ghosting Happens

The root of the ghosting issues in the hiring process ultimately comes down to a failure to communicate. Why is the communication breaking down? 

People Want To Avoid Awkward Communications

It’s human nature to avoid uncomfortable conversations. In social interactions, we’d instead tell a white lie than have to tell someone the truth and hurt their feelings. The same can be true of business interactions and the hiring process. So, it stands to reason that in a non-social situation, an employer may be even less than motivated to tell a stranger the truth about why they aren’t a good fit for the position. Can you imagine anyone saying, “You aren’t warm or welcoming, or you’re too timid; we need someone more charismatic than you.” That is not likely to happen. 

And the same goes for job seekers. Telling a potential employer the salary range or commute time does not work for you isn’t so difficult, but how do you do that with non-tangibles like culture or personalities? Imagine a candidate telling an employer that they are withdrawing their candidacy because of something related to a person’s personality on the team? What if that person was the practice owner? Or hiring manager? That is more difficult. It feels rude and hurtful, which is why most don’t and won’t do it. So instead of calling, DMing, or emailing, they disappear and hope all is forgotten.

It’s ok to say “thank you, but no, thank you, I’ve chosen to take a different direction.”  There is no need to go into specifics if that feeling of awkwardness exists.

But this lack of communication and transparency is becoming the norm from both sides. We can do better, and we must. We have to work on our ability to honestly and adequately communicate with one another. 

This is a business process, so it’s essential to take our personal feelings and sensitivities out of the equation. For employers, telling a potential team member up front at the first point of contact that you’d like them to communicate with you if at any time in the process they find themselves wanting to withdraw their candidacy, for whatever reasons, can go a long way. The same should apply to a job seeker. A jobseeker willing to be vulnerable and earnestly ask for feedback to improve themselves should be rewarded. In fact, it can be seen as a good sign to the hiring manager that this is someone humble and open to growth and self-improvement. 

Candidates Sometimes “Job Fish” vs. “Job Search”

DentalPost polling shows that many dental clinicians have been staying put due to the pandemic and economic uncertainty. Some dental candidates are “passively looking,” not motivated to leave their current dental practice, but, perhaps, if the perfect dream position and dental practice came along, they would seriously consider it. 

But then some are “fishing,” meaning they have no intention of leaving their current job but are applying for jobs to leverage an offer to get a raise from their current employer. While this is not an acceptable practice, it’s happening because of the increased starting salaries of new, less experienced clinicians who can command higher wages due to the labor market shortage. Addressing this systemic unfair wages issue affecting their most experienced and longest-standing team members could curtail some “fishing” activity. It’s also a critical aspect of employee retention. 

Regardless of why we go radio silent on each other in the hiring process, we must make more effort to communicate through our most challenging times. Never before has it been more important to extend each other the professional courtesy of communicating when either party needs to pull out of the recruitment and hiring process. Besides being the right thing to do, it benefits dental hiring managers and dental professionals by maintaining professional integrity and reputations. After all, the dental industry and community are much smaller than you think. 


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