Hear the word "ghosted," and you probably think back to a particularly uncomfortable date in which you ended up alone, waiting for an admirer who never showed up. But it turns out getting ghosted isn't just reserved for the dating world -- it's happening at workplaces, too.
Companies across the U.S. are experiencing an uptick in job candidates ghosting interviews and even -- get this -- first days at work, according to USA Today. In the last month alone, at least 30 job candidates failed to show up for interviews at El Dorado Hills-based Carports And More, the newspaper reports, while about five new hires at VoiceNation, an Atlanta-based call center, didn't clock in for their first day at work -- and they also haven't shown up since.
At least anecdotally, Karen Elizaga, an executive coach and author of Find Your Sweet Spot, confirms to Glassdoor that ghosting -- as it applies to the work world -- may be on the rise.
The strong job market -- in which we are enjoying an unemployment rate of just 3.9 percent -- may be to blame for job candidates' brazen behavior. "There are just so many opportunities," Elizaga concurs. "It cuts both ways: Employers receive an abundance of resumes through the various communication platforms in which they participate, and they can't possibly respond to every single inquiry. So, they don't. This puts prospective employees off, and as a result, they also feel entitled not to close the communications loop."
What's more, Elizaga adds that job candidates might blow off an interview if they've had a change of heart about the job, been offered a more desirable position, discovered that the company's values don't align with their own -- or feel unmotivated to take the opportunity.
But, "None of these reasons ... are valid reasons to ghost a company," Elizaga warns, adding that "one must always treat the company in the same way he or she wishes to be treated."
After all, when you ghost a potential employer, you leave a poor impression -- and one that could come back to bite you later in your career. "Let's face it," Elizaga says, "people who know people know people! And in many cases, the world is truly a small place. Ghosting an interview -- or not showing up for the first day -- will cause someone within a company to have a bad impression of you. Certainly, you will have cut off any opportunity for a job at that company, but that bad news about you may get out beyond the walls of that company."
Beyond that, "Even if you didn't ultimately want this job, you could have made a connection at this interview who could have introduced you to someone else in the industry -- for a job [in the future] that is better suited to your values, skills, and desires," Elizaga explains.
If you have decided you don't want to take an interview -- or the job, for that matter -- there are much better things to do than blow off a potential employer. Email is an easy, low-risk way to pass up an opportunity, and it's much more comfortable to write a rejection than it is to speak it out loud. Elizaga suggests using this script for turning down an opportunity:
Dear Interviewer's Name,
Thank you so much for the opportunity to interview with your company.
Upon reflection, I have decided to pursue a different route. I so appreciate the time you've spent in considering my resume, but I do not wish to waste your time and resources. Please feel free to give my interview spot to another worthy candidate.
I look forward to crossing paths again in the future.
As Elizaga points out, "Something simple like this could save your reputation as well as keep opportunities open for you" in a way that ghosting a potential employer never could.
This article originally appeared on Glassdoor.com.