Just because something has a clever name doesn't mean it's a viable option for your career. "Ghosting," the process of ending a relationship immediately, without reason, and without an explanation, fits that category.

It's not a mysterious way to move on or a painless way to end your employment. Ghosting may very well come back to haunt you as you leave a confused and almost certainly angry employer behind. There's no scenario in which simply walking away from a job by not showing up and not telling anyone is the right thing to do.

In fact, even in a dangerous employment situation that you feel you can't return to, you can still call and explain what you're doing. That probably won't go over very well, but it's better than simply not showing up.

A person is dressed as a ghost.

Ghosting can ruin your reputation. Image source: Getty Images.

Ghosting is always a bad idea

The strong economy has contributed to the development of ghosting. Workers aren't showing up for job interviews and are walking away from jobs with no notice and no explanation because they feel they have better options.

They might have better options right now, but that doesn't mean they will forever. Quitting by not showing up for work -- even if you email, text, or leave a message announcing your resignation -- effectively burns that bridge. Your past employer won't serve as a reference for you down the line and may not even be eager to verify past employment without bringing up how you left.

Ghosting also pretty much ends any chance of future employment at that company and tarnishes your name with any co-workers who know how you left. Quitting this way, or ghosting a job interview, creates a stain on your reputation when there didn't have to be one. It's the worst way to leave a job or tell an interviewer you're no longer interested.

What should you do?

When leaving a job, you should sit down with your boss, say you're leaving, and offer at least two weeks' notice. There are only a handful of situations in which less notice is appropriate, and in those cases, you should still speak with your boss directly, even if it's on the phone. For example:

  • You feel in danger by returning to the workplace. If it's your boss putting you in that danger, resign to human resources or another manager.
  • You, or a close family member you provide care for, has been diagnosed with a serious illness that requires immediate treatment making returning to work impossible.

Those are pretty much the only situations where it's OK to not follow the normal two weeks' notice. In other cases, such as landing a better job that wants you to start sooner, you owe your employer the truth. That may not be a pleasant conversation, but being honest will reflect better on you than simply disappearing with no explanation.

Plan for the long term. The economy may be full of opportunities for you now, but that could change and you may regret any bridges you burned. Even if that never happens, it's important to build a reputation for professionalism in the workplace, because you never know where former co-workers might pop up.