Oxbow Bend, Snake River

Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming

Friends Don’t Let Friends Ghost Each Other

Here at CoolWorks, we try to serve as a bridge between the two equal halves of our Community: job seekers and employers. Part of our mission, aside from providing a platform for job seekers to discover exciting new opportunities, is to help both of those audiences gain a better understanding of each other to create a better world of Jobs in Great Places® for everyone involved. After all, most of us at CoolWorks have been on both sides of the employment coin, as job seekers and employees in a wide range of seasonal operations, and eventually as managers/recruiters/leaders for those same operations. We create these Job Seekers Guide articles to help prospective employees be better prepared to thrive in the world of CoolWorks jobs, and we author the For Employers section to help the employers/companies that use CoolWorks to be better connected to the voice of today’s job seekers, based largely on what we hear from all of you!

One common and unfortunate occurrence that both groups communicate having experienced is being ghosted – having established communication, completed or scheduled an interview, perhaps even reached the level of an employment offer, and one party suddenly drops off all contact. It happens both ways. We have heard numerous accounts of job seekers having employers schedule interviews, only to cancel and never reschedule, or worse, not show up at all. Even in the midst of a historic labor crunch when businesses are vocally expressing their challenges in attracting applicants, we’ve heard from many job seekers who have applied to dozens, even hundreds, of jobs, and only heard back from a fraction of the companies with whom they’ve applied. One of our employer resources discusses how and why employers should always maintain active, open communication and follow up with every applicant, even if they don’t think a candidate is going to be a fit for their jobs. It’s just the respectful thing to do.

Ghosting Goes Both Ways

We also know that employers have frustrating experiences of being ghosted by candidates. Sometimes an interview is scheduled, and the candidate doesn’t show, and never returns calls or emails to reschedule. Sometimes an offer of employment is accepted, but the candidate never follows up on the next pre-arrival steps (new hire paperwork, housing requests, etc.). In the worst cases, the candidate checks all these boxes and signals that they have accepted the position and intends to arrive and join the team for the season, and then simply doesn’t show up for their arrival date. When this happens, it’s devastating. Sitting there waiting to welcome your new hire whom you’ve invested considerable time, work, and efforts into finding, screening, interviewing, and hiring, you can’t help but ask yourself: “what did I do wrong? Is this person ok? Are they safe? Broken down on the side of the road or stranded somewhere? How am I going to support the staff as a whole and bridge the gap that this creates? How do I find a replacement this late?”

We understand that there are many reasons why, as a candidate, you might change course and decide to alter your plans. Perhaps you applied to several employers, and received a better offer from one of your other prospects. Maybe personal circumstances required you to change your plans. Maybe after getting futher into the process, you just flat out changed your mind and decided it wasn’t the right thing for you at this time. Any of those reasons, and many others, are all totally fair and understandable. Life happens, and every person has to do the right thing for themselves. But just as it’s the respectful (and right) thing for an employer to honor the time invested and let a candidate know that they won’t be offering them a position, letting an employer know you will not be showing up to the job that you’ve accepted (and that they are counting on you to show up for) is a basic act of decency.

Communication Keeps Your Current and Future Prospects Open

In order to create a better reality for every member of the CoolWorks ecosystem, each and every participant needs to prioritize communication and putting ourselves in the other set of shoes. If you accept a position and then received another job offer that’s a better fit for you, at least let the other employer(s) know that you’ve decided not to take their job. If you would still be open to joining that employer but your decision comes down to a matter of wages and/or benefits (which again, is absolutely reasonable), let them know. They might be open to matching or even exceeding the other offer you’ve received. Either way, communicate your circumstances. Letting them know enables them to be able to move on to working with a new candidate, and your feedback and communication will be invaluable. Organizations and the cultures within them can not and will not evolve without your feedback to help them grow. It’s possible that they’ll be total jerks about it, in which case you may have dodged an unpleasant environment and can be assured of your decision. However, it’s more likely that they’ll appreciate your communication and openness.

In addition to allowing the company to move on with its planning and recruiting, you’ll give yourself the best possible chance of keeping your options open for future opportunities. Maybe in a later season, you might like to reconsider an employer you previously decided not to go with, or another property that’s owned by the same company (like a large concessionaire that operates in several National Parks). If you had previously accepted a position with that company but dropped off communication or never showed up, it’s much less likely that the employer would be open to extending another employment offer. Just like an employer ghosting you would permanently damage your opinion of them, leaving an employer in the lurch would likely hurt your chances of working with them, or any affiliated companies, in the future.

You’ll Be Helping the Other “You”s Out There

One of the greatest negative impacts of dropping off ghosting or no-showing to an employer you’ve accepted a role with is the burden that falls on the other employees that you would have been working alongside. If you’ve decided not to take the job, but don’t let the employer know that your plans changed, or even worse, just don’t show up when you’re expected to arrive and start your new job, every other employee will be picking up the slack until your slot can be refilled. That means longer hours, less time off, and more burnout. If you’ve ever been in that situation before, then you know how much it can really sour the early days of a new season in a great place you had high hopes for. Sure, technically, you don’t owe anything to a company that you haven’t started work for, or to coworkers you’ve never met. And it’s also true that not all companies have a perfect track record and can be pretty callous in pulling the rug out from under employees. You may have even experienced that yourself, and it’s not fun. But all companies are not the same. How they choose to conduct themselves says something about them. How you choose to act says something about you. It’s easy enough to drop an email to say, “I’m sorry, my plans have changed, I will no longer be accepting the offer.” It’s a small action with a big impact, and by communicating, you will be reducing the impact and potential harm on a community and the people in it.

Build Strong Employment Relationships

We’ve all heard the wisdom that strong relationships are built on communication. The same goes for employment relationships. Open and honest communication, even when it requires tough conversations, demonstrates your capacity for integrity and courtesy, two traits that will always set you apart and solidify your personal professionalism. And more often than not (as long as you’re dealing with someone who also has integrity and respect), it’s really appreciated by whoever you’re working with. Every recruiter out there isn’t some faceless corporate robot, indifferent to the needs or feelings of candidates. Many of them started as front desk agents, housekeepers, line cooks, retail clerks, etc. For many of them, especially at smaller companies, recruiting likely isn’t their only job or responsibility. They may very well also be responsible for operating an entire department, or even the whole company. They’ve been in your shoes, and someday, you might be in theirs. So whether you’re going to move forward with an employer or not, set yourself apart by always keeping communication flowing!