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[dupe] Ghosting: Job candidates turn tables on employers (asktheheadhunter.com)
49 points by n-izem 10 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 60 comments






It's extremely important that you learn as early as possible in your career that your employer is not your friend. You are only a cog in the wheel to them. All the way up to the top you are replaceable.

Once you make this shift in thinking, it opens the doors to you increasing your status in the company, doing more interesting work and making way more money.

Stop doing any favours to your employer and start putting yourself first. The result is mutually beneficial in the long run.


I think this stance tends to be too harsh. The company isn't your friend, but people can be. I've done personal favors for employers that have helped my career in major ways.

People can also be polite and professional up until they completely stab you in the back.

The company is just made up of people, and so while some of those people can be your friends, oftentimes others have completely selfish aims.

From a position of power you can give and take, but many people pull the bullshit "We are a family" bit to eke out that extra work for no extra pay.


That's why I called it a favor. You only get so many favors before you've burned through trust. Then you're cut off.

An employer who burns through trust with their employee is going to perpetually have staffing issues.


You are correct - the company is not your friend. Senior management has a responsibility to look out for the shareholders' interests. They are also human and look out for their own interests. That said, treating people the way you want to be treated has a positive effect on your little corner of the company.

My management treated me well when it was in their power to do so. I survived for 36 years in a company that had multiple downsizings, sometimes 2 a year in the last 15 years. Our workgroup supported each other the best we could. We still get together for lunch periodically. Ross Perot's "great sucking sound of jobs leaving the country" occured on my watch. We just had to deal with it the best we could.

I was much happier and productive when I realized that it was best to be thankful for the good parts of my work and that sometimes you go through situations that suck. That's life...


>It's extremely important that you learn as early as possible in your career that your employer is not your friend. You are only a cog in the wheel to them. All the way up to the top you are replaceable.

This is not universally true. I genuinely care about the people that work for me.


People are great: organizations are less so. Your HR buddy can cry while they kick you off campus, they're still kicking you off campus. Unless they're the board and CEO, it doesn't really matter that the people around you care for you and you care for them. You can see them at the bar afterwards, I suppose.

People have sway within organizations. Many decisions are at the discretion of one of many people. Having people on your side is important.

Working hard might not make you look good to "the company" but it can make you look good to your supervisor(s) which (except in the event of things like mass-layoffs) has a huge impact on how the company treats you.


I insulate employees from that, 99.9% of the time. I decide where I need to make reductions, which happens. It doesn't really matter that I'm not the company, for all intents and purposes, that does not matter to the employee. That the CEO might not care about them (although, he does) does not matter in practice.

the employer is the company, not a person. even if you're a founder or CEO, you are not your company.

Luckily enough I read plenty of leftist authors as a teen so I had this understanding from day 1

Another way I've heard this phrased is that office politics and such are like a game: You will get screwed over by your "friends", it's not personal, and your job is to optimize for your desired outcome.

I think that this is people finally getting fed up with corporate hypocrisy. When you quit, for example, it's expected that you give at least two week's notice, and anything less would be "unprofessional". When there's a layoff, though, people are shown the door immediately (or sometimes even fired over the phone). Why should I be held to rules that don't apply to the company that I'm working for?

What's the primary thing the employee gives the employer? Work.

What's the primary thing the employer gives the employee? Money.

I think it's reasonable when one party decides to end the relationship, that they keep providing that primary thing for a period of time to make the transition more orderly.

That makes notice periods and severance periods logically equivalent in my book. The company can show you the door immediately (if they want), but as long as they pay you severance for a period of time, they've held up their end. (I've never seen zero severance in the tech industry unless a company is literally out of money or in the case the employee is being fired "for cause" (typically meaning sexual harassment, or theft/embezzlement, etc, not mere incompetence or laziness.)


My company pays zero severance. It's clearly stated in the handbook. I've worked at over a dozen places in the bay area and only two provided actual severance and in both of those cases, they were trying to avoid lawsuits / publicity over not having promised health insurance / other workers getting drunk and assaulting their coworkers. So those two places were highly motivated to shut me up or else I'm certain there would have been no severance.

So yeah, I'll give my employers the same consideration they give me: NONE.


Are companies not paying severance to laid off employees? The old norm, which seemed pretty reasonable to me, was that employees gave notice and companies paid severance. The walking out the door part is unpleasant, but it's the pay that's more important IMO.

Severance is a rarity. It’s also probably not enough. I’ve seen people get 1 or 2 weeks pay as severance.

I agree that from the employees' standpoint more is better, but should there be a connection between expected length of notice and expected amount of severance? I believe in Europe the expected notice periods are significantly longer.

In France on a CDI (permanent contract) above a certain level the usual notice period is 3 months.

In Sweden it's 3 months, in the UK it's usually 1 month (although my last UK contract was 3months notice).

But it swings both ways in these countries; you can't terminate someone on the spot. The employer must fulfil the notice period too (or, at least pay you for it)


In many US companies, severance increases with years of service. In the case of my former employer, as the company's balance sheet got worse, successive downsizings provided fewer benefits. There were legal protections that slowed the rate of those decreases.

What size companies? Most large companies pay out severance based on tenure.

Severance always depends on the length of your stay at that company. Typically it's 1 week for a year of service. So yeah, good luck with that if you are anything less than 5 years into the job.

I'm not sure that there is a 'typical' for severance. I've seen people get everything from a flat 1 month, to 2 months + 2 weeks/year.

Tech companies sometimes demand signing a non-disparagement or other legal agreement in exchange for severance. Companies with the fake "unlimited vacation" policy give you nothing for that.

You have a major choices in life - conduct yourself the way you'd want people to conduct themselves, or not. This choice dictates the type of person you are, and the type of person you want to be.

Whilst I may despise many a situation - I'll constantly attempt to treat others the way I'd like to be treated. I'll also fail, because I'm human. It's part of being the change, part of doing more than just complaining about the problem.

If people want to conduct themselves thusly, it's their issue - but don't let it negatively define who you are.


I thought “ghosting” was when I never talk to someone again and there’s no closure to the relationship because I don’t answer any contact [0].

This article describes employees resigning with no notice and employers rescinding job offers days before start. Neither of these are ghosting as they involve notice. They are certainly rude, but something other than ghosting.

Also, if you incur costs as a result of a job offer that is not fulfilled, it’s a pretty easy lawsuit to recoup damages. If the company can’t afford to pay, then that’s a failure of due diligence on the employees fault. It’s not that expensive to do a $5-10k small claims lawsuit and certainly affordable given the pretty massive cushion emergency fund I have to have to pull my kids out of school and move across the country. “The candidate accepted and HR instructed him to give notice at the old job immediately. He did.”

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ghosting_(relationships)


>employees resigning with no notice

>involve notice

The wiki article you link even mentions the use of the word in regards to employment.

>Ghosting is not limited to only intimate relationship contexts. It can also happen between friends or even family members,[20] and be practiced by employers with prospective candidates.


Sorry, I meant “resigninging with no two weeks notice.” I think of “giving notice” as the professional practice of giving a time period between resigning and ceasing work. They still resigned. I would consider ghosting if they just left and never said anything.

>I would consider ghosting if they just left and never said anything.

But that is what the article is describing. The initial question goes "It just happened at work. Someone “ghosted” their job! A man in his 20s just disappeared without saying goodbye or I quit."


But the employer examples all involve some contact (rescinding the offer, etc).

It seems odd to compare an employee walking off the job with no notice vs a recruiter never getting back. I think the equivalent is having the doors locked with no notice. Happens in the restaurant business, but pretty rare in white collar.


DON'T DO THIS.

- I don't care if the labor market is tight.

- I don't care if you're an employer with 300 qualified applicants for a single opening.

Being respectful and maintaining relationships matters.

A well-respected venture CEO screamed at me in rage when I gave my 2-weeks notice at the company he ran. Former colleagues tell me that they've been having a lot of issues hiring engineers.

iHeartRadio was recruiting engineers up until the day they announced bankruptcy and continued to do so, but would rescind offers and just waste candidates' time. This left such a bad taste from seeing it happen to TWO friends of mine, that I have no qualms naming them publicly.


Being respectful and maintaining relationships matters.

Unfortunately it looks like you are disproving your own point here.


Yes, pointing out how vividly one ruined professional relationship sticks out in my mind really emphasizes that they don't matter.

I've seen both things happen.

A well respected co-worker, just stopped coming in after a vacation, and played World of Warcraft instead. He had savings, so he just played. (He did it for years)

Another co-worker, got a great offer at an exciting new place, semi-large startup. Quit his job, trained a replacement, first day at the new job "Sorry.. it seems like we cant afford you, as our strategy has changed."


> Another co-worker, got a great offer at an exciting new place, semi-large startup. Quit his job, trained a replacement, first day at the new job "Sorry.. it seems like we cant afford you, as our strategy has changed."

That's just cold. You don't do that to people.

I would sue. I would sue for the money I spent to move as well as the loss of income until I found another job.


That very cold, but thats the law here in Denmark. The first 3 months, you can fire new hires with 1 days notice, for no reason what so ever.

After the first 3 months, you have to show some kind of cause, have issued warnings of performance, be downsizing or similar.

p.s he didnt move, the job was in the same city. But he took the oppurtunity and started for himself, and is very succesfull today doing something completely different (he makes beautifull cookbooks now).


If I learned anything as a recruiter for 20 years it's that there are bad actors on all sides. Employers do sometimes rescind offers that could hurt job seekers. Candidates do accept offers and then not show up (counteroffer, better offer came late). Employees sometimes leave without giving notice. All of these things do happen.

But none of these things happen often enough to make it "a thing". This article is basically some anecdotes about things that have happened, but not any type of regular occurrence in most professional industries. A high school or college kid is thousands of times more likely to quit without giving notice than anyone in a professional environment.

If there is any takeaway in this article:

* Your loyalty must be to yourself and your career. The days of employers seeming to take care of employees are over other than some rare occasions. You must make career decisions strictly based on what is best for your career and earning potential (short and long term).

* Do your research - These companies that pull job offers on people probably have some history of doing it, and there are plenty of websites that offer horror stories. Ask around and do some research if the company you're speaking to doesn't have much reputation or credibility online or in the public domain.

* Be professional - Especially in tech, career fluidity is much more common now than it was even 15 years ago. 2-4 year stints at companies are the norm. What does this mean? It means that your potential network is exponentially bigger than it would be if tenures were 10-15 years and turnover was low - you are working with a larger number of peers over your career, and those peers are going on to work for many other companies. You work for a 50-person startup that collapses, and those employees maybe join 30 other firms. Now your reputation (good or bad) has reached 30 firms. Bad news spreads. Give proper notice and treat employers as you'd like to be treated - hopefully they will reciprocate.


Startup founders in India are feeling the pinch of this hit back. It's routine to hear employees just leaving without notice, or not even joining after they have signed up on an offer. So there is this natural bias that employees are not reliable. What they don't understand is that they have done little or nothing to assuage the hidden 'fuck you' attitude that is emanating from employees. At least, you know you can be ghosted, what is the best you can do to stop that from happening. I haven't heard any discussion on that front, most of the discussions are 'oh yeah, this candidate turned out to be a scumbag, he just ghosted us, perhaps we should make a list of such candidates and circulate amongst ourselves'

> Why bother giving notice

i) Because you've signed a contract and they have lawyers that can come after you to enforce that contract or extract damages as a result of non-compliance.

ii) Because your personal values are derived from you, and not how others conduct themselves.

I do a bit of interviewing and it's remarkable how many people will apply for a job, be offered an interview, accept the interview, and then just not turn up for the interview with no contact at all.

It's a really bad look, and people do remember it.

(Obviously, none of this is meant to excuse poor behaviour by employers).


These rescinded job offers after someone has uprooted their life, assuming that the offer can be proven (written is best!) surely promissory estoppel applies and some kind of remedy is a slam dunk?

A “slam dunk” in the sense of paying 10s of thousands in attorney fees to get and enforce a judgment, when you’re probably in financially tricky circumstances specifically due to the rescinded offer?

Attorney’s fees will be awarded as part of the judgment.

If you happen to have a large amount of savings to pay the retainer (in case you lose), or hit the jackpot with a lawyer that will work on contingency for a case worth probably $10-20k if you win. Maybe small claims court, but that still takes your time away from other things, takes energy, and causes stress.

The legal system is not easily accessible for the average person and companies know that perfectly well. Even if it's a straightforward case it will cost tons of time at a minimum.


Your cynical view of the legal system is based in urban legend more than fact. Attorneys are businesses: yes, they'll gladly take a client's money in order to prosecute a losing case, but a good lawyer will show extreme skepticism towards someone who doesn't have a case or the money to pay for it.

It's never a bad idea to consult with 2-3 attorneys with significant practice in the relevant area. When a case has merit - and fees could be awarded out of relatively deep corporate pockets - interest from attorneys will be readily apparent.


I’m more interested in leaning about the concepts here and if they apply to employment offers.

Certainly more interesting than yet another conversation about the costs of the legal system favouring those with money, don’t you think? That one has been done to death.


What a stupid neologism.

I know language doesn't have to make sense, but to me 'ghosting' seems to mean the exact opposite of what it's supposed to mean.

Think of it, a ghost is a dead person that hangs around and bothers you in this world when it should have gone to some other realm, presumably.

Aren't there enough existing words and expressions that mean the same thing: ignoring, stonewalling, etc...?


THIS! I was similarly confounded when i first heard the term ghosting recently. To me ghosting should mean that someone that is constantly lingering about - and not disappearing. I would have used the term blanking out, or maybe fading out, or even better something like bamfing [see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bamf].

To ghost somebody is to make them like a ghost to you.

I had a company that seriously wanted to hire me and had me chat to a VP after a few other employees. They said they would let me know next steps in a few days, it's been over 30 days now. Ghosting happens all over.

We've had success in team ghosting useless product managers, eventually (after 2 years without any output) causing them to leave (out of their own volition, because apparently being hired by C levels protects you from being terminated because it would reflect bad on the hiring C level).

Keeping up a trickle stream of half-baked work[0] (to prevent you from being accused of being "non-supportive") worked fine.

[0] matching the half-baked ideas we were supported to implement


Seems kind of cowardly, to be honest.

I disagree, just knowing how toxic the corporate management would be in such a case. If you try to give sincere feedback to fix what’s going wrong, you’re just putting the target on your own back.

Classic passive-agressive. Welcome to the tech side of the tech industry.

Seems to be a natural consequence of poor leadership. No concerted effort required.

This just sounds like bullying to me.

Oh, we would have stopped at the slightest trace of an intelligent or coherent decision from the PM.

Also worth reading the comments.

Tldr: employees are now treating employers the way the employees have been treated.


I wonder how much of this is due to simply wanting to avoid a difficult or confrontational conversation about quitting.



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