So one day you wake up and realize that you are over it. You no longer want to be friends with someone. Or you’re just not into your girlfriend/boyfriend anymore. Or you no longer want to carpool with so-and-so. So how do you handle it? Ghost them of course.

Good choice . . .  if you’re young, inexperienced, or don’t like feeling uncomfortable, and want to burn bridges. (Oops! Did I say that out loud?)

“Ghosting” at work has also become a thing. A lazy, unprofessional and irresponsible thing, but still it’s popping up and coworkers are left picking up the slack.

Ghosting at Work Works Both Ways

Yes, ghosting started on the company, HR side. In an era when job candidates were plentiful, recruiters started ghosting candidates who didn’t make the cut. They didn’t get back to them with a polite thank-you-but-not-this-time email.

But as the human-capital market has changed, with companies needing to try harder to acquire the best talent, some candidates are turning the tables, and ghosting in return. They might not show up for interviews, respond to requests for CVs or turn up for the first day of work.

This practice may be influenced by social media, employee attitudes about what professional behavior is, and even companies adopting casual, almost daycare-like workplace cultures.

[bctt tweet=”There might be lots of rationalizations for #GhostingAtWork. Why you shouldn’t do a #professional disappearing act boils down to treating others the way you want to be treated.” username=”rosalindatweets”]

Wall Street Journal writer Chip Cutter posted an article on Linkedin, where he discusses theories on why people ghost their job or interviews: “People dislike conflict, so it’s often easier to say nothing than to deliver unsavory news…and for others, ghosting is simply a reflection of their power in the job market.”

But whatever the justification, is ghosting at work ever a good idea? Is payback really worth tarnishing your professional reputation? The answer may boil down to the old-fashioned but important notion of “treating others the way you want to be treated.”

Some of the Reasons for Ghosting at Work

ghosting at work

Some of the rationales for the disappearing practice include:

  • Job Fluidity: Employers don’t expect an employee to stay at a job for too long. New opportunities, living situations, and financial conditions often dictate a sudden move. So if this is the expectation, why not live up to it by just not showing up to work one day?
  • Workplace Culture: The employee might feel the job culture is disposable, with no loyalty or camaraderie, no sense of belonging or caring management, lots of temp workers coming and going, and so on. So ghosting could be seen as a reasonable response.
  • No Consequences: Since a former employer cannot legally disclose reasons for an employee’s departure, it makes it easy for them to take the ghosting route.
  • Opportunities Galore:  There may be so many available jobs in your industry including start-ups that are always looking for new talent; you’re confident that someone will pick you up.

Yes, job markets ebb and flow, job skills become obsolete, and workplace cultures evolve. What remains and follows you is your professional reputation. Stop to consider how you will be received if the job market turns in the employers’ favor.

RELATED CONTENT: See my Good Day Sacramento television interview about “How to Quit a Job: Ghosting or a Two-Week Notice?”

ghosting at work

4 Reasons to Reconsider Ghosting at Work

  1. Some communities and industries are tight-knit. People from one company talk to those at another about things like their workforces. “We’ve got this applicant for a job—what do you know about them?”  As they say, “It’s a small world.”
  2. What happens if your new job doesn’t work out?  You may have walked out of your old job for a chance to work somewhere else, or because you were mad that your extra vacation time wasn’t approved. But if your new work situation bombs, then you may need a reference or even to ask for your old job back, only to find that you’ve burnt your bridges.
  3. You might be interviewing for a job and asked when you can start. If the answer is “Tomorrow” and you‘re working somewhere else, that says a lot about your lack of professional integrity and concern for your employer and coworkers. Is that what the new company can expect from you?
  4. Ghosting recruiters can be detrimental to your job-seeking success. The recruiters will quickly stop helping you if you flake out on a meeting or don’t show up to an interview they scheduled for you. Your behavior risks damaging their company’s reputation.

If employees continue to ghost, employers may be less inclined to invest in their staff and offer fewer perks and opportunities. If trust is compromised too often, then the company’s only focus will become productivity and the bottom line. “Let me get what I can out of this employee now, because they may not be here tomorrow.” And can you blame them?

If ghosting personal relationships, interviews, and jobs are working for you, fine, go ahead. But beware: What goes around comes around. Your disappearing act may come back to haunt you.


Rosalinda Oropeza Randall, Workplace Civility, Soft Skills, Business Etiquette Expert, Media Source, and author of “Don’t Burp in the Boardroom.

Presentations are available to support HR policies and harassment compliance, address concerns, or to avert potential conflicts –  Upgrade or set a standard of communication and behavior –  Up-and-coming managers – Interns – New-hire orientation process –  Professional development events or conferences – College/university students   –  Actors to prepare for roles  –  NEW! Attorneys; polish clients’ professional presence for a court appearance.

For more information, please contact me via email, or by calling 650.871.6200 before a dilemma turns into front-page news.