"Ghosting" isn't just a modern dating problem, it happens in the workplace, too.
It goes something like this: Two people meet in person, on the phone or via email. Things seem to be going well, but then one person vanishes (like a ghost) with no communication of any kind to the other person.
Career experts say that ghosting is becoming a bigger problem for job seekers. Here are some steps to handle the awkward situation.
"The 24-7 demands of the 'always on' workplace have increased the bad behaviors around follow-up," said Joan Kuhl, president and founder of Why Millennials Matter, a research, training and consulting firm. "Managers feel overwhelmed by today's demands to juggle more responsibilities with less resources, but this can't be an excuse for not prioritizing the talent acquisition process."
The first step in basic business etiquette — after your interview, send a thank you note in the mail or via email that day. One week with no communication? Hang tight. If it's been two or three weeks without any word from the interviewer, reach out, experts said.
"Match the medium to the message," Kuhl said. "If you had a strong rapport with the interviewer then pick up the phone and try to reach them directly. Don't always be so reliant on email. Be prepared to leave a message and rehearse beforehand so you can sound upbeat and committed."
Throughout every stage of an interview, always try to get an idea of what the timeline is for hearing back or if the interviewer needs anything more from you, according to Kuhl.
Even the best candidates can find themselves ghosted, so don't take the silence to heart. Instead, take the uncomfortable situation as a chance to learn.
"You can't take it personally, and you have to realize that feedback makes you better as a professional. You're not going to land your dream job if you don't get feedback," LinkedIn career expert Catherine Fisher said.
If a few more weeks go by without any response, you can check in with a brief message, recognizing that you're probably not going to get the job, but saying that you'd love feedback.
Fisher recommends writing an email that includes something like: "Hi, I haven't heard from you in a while and have assumed you have found a more suitable candidate. However, I would love to get any feedback from you that can help me grow professionally as I continue my job search."
Building real relationships can help you avoid ghosters in the first place.
"Make sure you're reaching out to the right person, taking a look to make sure that you're contacting a person in your area or department of interest, not just randomly clicking on people to reach out to because you're interested in the company," Fisher said.
Pursuing in-person connections, like information interviews over coffee, is also important. Alumni associations, family, friends and LinkedIn are all great ways to make good connections, according to Kuhl.
No one's perfect. If you have ever ghosted someone in a job-interview process or in another matter, it's always better to be upfront about why you didn't respond in a timely manner.
"No matter what, any communication is better than none. If you've forgotten to respond or follow up with someone, send them a note to let them know that you are either continuing to interview and they are still in consideration, or you've decided to go a different direction," said Brette Rowley, a millennial career coach.
"Even better, if you've decided to go a different direction, provide some constructive criticism so that they can have success in the future," she said.