1. Career Advice
  2. Finding a job
  3. Are there negative sides to ghosting a job after you’ve accepted the offer?
Are there negative sides to ghosting a job after you’ve accepted the offer?

Are there negative sides to ghosting a job after you’ve accepted the offer?

Artwork by: Antonina Kasyanikova

  • What does it mean to ghost a job after you’ve accepted the offer?
  • How common is job ghosting?
  • Why people ghost jobs
  • Is ghosting an employer unethical?
  • What to do instead of ghosting
  • Key takeaways

If you’re considering ghosting a company after getting a job offer, you might want to think again. In this article, we’ll discuss the consequences of ghosting an employer after accepting a job offer, and how it can harm your career.

It sounds like something out of a mildly scary horror movie: an applicant goes through the entire interview process, the company offers them a job…and the applicant is never heard from again! (Insert mildly confused scream here.) But in all seriousness, ghosting a job is a real phenomenon, and in a tight labor market, the job hunter is often the one who holds all the cards. However, the motivation to ghost is not necessarily malevolent—perhaps the candidate is just not taking a job offer seriously, or they have received multiple offers and doesn't feel the need to respond individually to each one. Or, they've accepted and then changed their mind. But in the end, the result is the same—the company is left with an unfilled position and they have no idea why.

In this article, we’ll discuss the concept of ghosting a job and if there are downsides for the applicant, including:

  • What does “ghosting” a job mean?

  • How common is job ghosting?

  • Why are people ghosting jobs?

  • Is ghosting someone unethical or illegal?

  • What you should do instead of ghosting after getting an offer

What does it mean to ghost a job after you’ve accepted the offer?

Most of us have heard the term “ghosting” as it applies to one’s dating life, i.e. the new person you went out with suddenly cuts off all contact. The site Verywell Mind describes “ghosting" as “a relatively new colloquial dating term that refers to abruptly cutting off contact with someone without giving that person any warning or explanation for doing so.”

But it happens in the working world, too. And it can happen at any stage—after getting an offer, after one’s first day, or even just walking away one random day, never to be heard from again. The potential employee simply “disappears” from the hiring process, without communicating with the hiring manager in any way, leaving them with a suddenly unfilled position and wondering what happened.

How common is job ghosting?

Employee ghosting most typically takes place sometime during the recruiting process, often after an offer has been accepted. According to a Visier survey, 84 percent of the people questioned said that they had ghosted a potential employer during the last 18 months, and 31 percent confessed that they would consider ghosting an employer even after a day or two on the job! 

Why people ghost jobs

It might seem counterintuitive to ghost an employer—they're offering you employment, after all. But there are myriad reasons prospective employees might choose to cut off all contact, without even sending a courtesy email. Maybe an employee is too embarrassed to say they've changed their mind, or they simply don't know the professional protocol. A candidate may also decide that they were deceived by a recruiter about the job, or feel that they were treated disrespectfully during the job hiring process. While this historically has been more common in lower-paying positions, it's happening more often with higher-paying fields such as tech and finance, where potential employees are walking away from $65,000-$100,000 salaries without a word. Bottom line? In the current labor market, candidates just don't feel they should have to tolerate negative behavior.

Other reasons people may ghost jobs after accepting an offer:

  • The job description was incorrect and not what they were expecting.

  • The company culture wasn’t what it appeared to be.

  • The salary the company offered was below their requirements.

  • They got a better offer.

  • They heard negative stories about the company on sites like Glassdoor or by word of mouth.

Is ghosting an employer unethical?

While ghosting an employer at any stage isn’t illegal, it can indeed be considered unethical, and it’s definitely rude. It may also be damaging to your career. While some might feel that employers are regularly guilty of this, so it's a matter of "what's good for the goose is good for the gander," and have no compunction about ghosting at any stage of employment, it's definitely a gray area at best. 

Remember, people talk, and you don’t want to potentially burn any bridges. If you ghost a company, your application might be flagged, and you won’t ever get hired by that company again. And if you ghost a recruiter? It could spread a negative impression of you to other companies, HR departments, and fellow recruiters. Hiring managers have long memories, and this negative reputation could hang on you like fuzzy dice on a rearview mirror, and impede your chances of getting an interview in your field, much less getting hired. Don’t risk getting blacklisted when you could just send an email saying, “No, thank you.”

What to do instead of ghosting

Ideally, you should turn down the job (in writing) before you’ve accepted the offer. If you do this, you’ll most likely come out of the situation without a scratch. It only takes a few minutes to compose an email, and it can save you from any negative consequences down the road. 

The main problem is when candidates accept job offers and then never show up for work. This is quite literally the worst-case scenario, and you risk the most damage to your reputation. But if you’ve decided at the last minute to back out after you’ve accepted a job offer, you can still salvage the situation, at least a little bit. While you should follow up with an email, you might have to “bite the bullet” and pick up the phone. 


Sample phone conversation to rescind a job offer 

Hello, Ms. [Name]. This is difficult for me, as I realize that I am expected to start my position as [position title] on [date]. But it turns out that I am unable to accept the job due to [reason]. I understand that this puts you in a very difficult situation, and I sincerely apologize for that. I wanted to let you know about this decision right away. I really appreciate the incredible opportunity, and I wish you and the company the best in the future.

Remember, you are inconveniencing them; you should be aware that they might not take the news graciously, and it might harm your reputation. Basically, this all means you need to learn to say, "no" to a job offer. It might be uncomfortable, but it will be the best move for you professionally. 

Ready to find the right job for you? Check out our job tracker tool on Career.io!

Key takeaways

  1. Ghosting a job offer means the potential employee simply "disappears" from the hiring process, without communicating with the hiring manager in any way.

  2. People may ghost a job offer for many reasons, including being uncomfortable with confrontation.

  3. Ghosting an employer isn't illegal, but it is unethical as well as rude. Consider contacting the employer to let them know your plans, and avoid any potential damage to your professional reputation.

Share this article