Job Ghosting

The Great Resignation ushered in a new era where employees were leaving their jobs in great numbers. Whether justifiably or not, employees tendered their resignation while others just stopped showing up. It is never a good idea to ghost anyone whether an employer or a significant other. I believe that in this new era that shortness in job longevity has become the norm and that employees should be more cautious how they leave their employer. Employees are finding themselves burning a bridge to their last employer with no regard. Employees need to be aware that some paths may and do lead back to a former employer, whether this as a result of a merger, buyout, or better opportunities with the former employer being presented. How you leave an employer matters.

I can say that I have held several jobs where I was underpaid and unappreciated, so I can relate to those who left for this reason. There is a new shift now where an employee will leave a job for better pay, hours, or happiness and down the road find an opportunity that takes them back to a former employer. This could be for a promotion, higher pay, or for countless other reasons, but now it seems to occur at a higher probability. Do not be the employee who blindly leaves a job without providing notice to your employer. You may be limiting yourself with future opportunities. The younger generation has this stereotype placed on them where they are expected to job hop until they are able to find a job that fits. Sometimes older employees will tell the younger workers that it is ok to do this. You will even notice that there are plenty of older adult workers who still ghost employers. This is a bad behavior and does not belong in the workplace.

Have I ghosted an employer before? Unfortunately, yes. I had a good work history with my first job at a grocery story. I resigned my position to go to a summer program for college preparation. I informed the manager that I was going away for the summer and let him know when my last day would be. Everything worked out fine. I ended up returning home earlier than I planned, so I went to work for Burger King. I made a mistake that lead to my experience not being the best and I take responsibility for not asking questions about deciphering the schedule. I missed a shift and so I was deemed as unreliable. I was not getting the hours that I wanted after that, so I found another job and never came back. I should have apologized, and did a better job of communicating this with Burger King, but I did not.

I am not condemning anyone for ghosting an employer, but I am condemning this if you are an adult who is still doing this. I was 17 years old when I did it and I am aware of how wrong this behavior is. I highly encourage employees to at least have a conversation on how to improve their work environment first, before deciding to throw up your hands and leave. Sometimes the situation can and will improve while there are times when it will remain subpar. I will show you how I was able to progress while still at the age of 17. I worked briefly as a bus boy cleaning tables at a restaurant. Their hours were pretty late for a high school kid. The restaurant opened at 5 pm and closed at 11 pm. I would not get out of there until after 1 am most nights. The restaurant was not busy and the money was ok, but I wasn't happy with the job. I did not work out a notice, but I did call the manager and let him know that I was not coming back. He was pretty upset, but I got the realization of how important it is to communicate your feelings in a professional and respectful manner. It took me several years later to realize to stop applying to jobs that I did not want to work or put myself in positions where I was unhappy.

How should you let the employer know that you are unhappy? In some positions, employees will have one-on-one meetings with their supervisor to discuss performance and areas of focus. This would be a good time to express your concerns. If your job does not have one-on-one meetings, then I suggest you reaching out to your supervisor and request a meeting. Before you do this, you need to know what your concerns are and be aware of potential resolutions. You can and should participate in helping to fix your problem.

What happens if you are unable to find a common ground to improve your work environment? I would suggest to begin looking for another job, prior to resigning. I do not suggest subjecting yourself to a hostile work environment or being in a situation where you are subjected to unnecessary abuse. If this is the case, then I recommend leaving immediately. If you are able to stay there until you are able to find another job, then you should. New employers may contact them to confirm your employment with them or verify whether or not you are rehire-able, if you have ended your employment.

Other things to consider are when you are interviewing with a new employer, how will you answer the question of how you left there: did you work out a notice or do you plan on working out a notice prior to starting here. Employers want to hire people who will effectively communicate their needs and their wants within reason. You must be prepared to speak respectfully about your former employer. No employer wants to hire a person who is spewing negative information about their former employer whether the information is true or not. A level of professionalism is expected. This brings me back to not burning a bridge with a former employer.

As a Career Coach, I suggest conducting a job search based on jobs that contain similar attributes. An example would be for a auto mechanic to apply to auto mechanic jobs at privately owned repair shops, specialized auto shops, and at dealerships. Mechanics may migrate in a circle of shops and you may run into a former supervisor or co-worker who may now be a supervisor at the new shop. How you conducted yourself on past jobs may come up in the new opportunity. Co-workers will remember when you left them high and dry to be short-handed too. If you live or grew up in a small town, then you know exactly what I mean. Everyone knows everyone. Be aware of the likelihood of running into someone from your past who could have an affect on you landing the your job.

The common practice is to give a two weeks notice to your employer. This is done by composing a letter of resignation. It is not required to be a formal three page letter, but you should compose a brief note at a minimum stating that you are resigning from your current position and you should indicate when your last date will be. You need to be aware that it is the employer's rights to accept you resignation and it is their choice of whether to let you go effective immediately or allow for you to continue up to your last day. Just because you are willing to give a specific time frame for your last day does not mean that they must grant it. They could say that we will accept your notice and we are going to part ways with you effective today; leaving you short two weeks of pay. Please be aware of this practice to avoid putting yourself in a financial hardship. This could vary based on your industry. It is a common practice to part ways with you sooner rather than later when you are going to work for a competitor of your employer. Some employers will pay a severance to get rid of you quickly when going to a competitor. It is a good practice to be aware if you have signed any non-compete disclosures.

As you have read, there are quite a few reasons that you should not be ghosting your employer. A former employer is legally allowed to provide information about your departure to your prospective employer if they reach out for a reference check. The amount and type of information an employer can share will vary from state to state, so it is important to know what information can be shared about your employment history prior to ghosting another employer. It is a courtesy to provide the employer with a resignation notice of some kind and most employers will indicate what they expect from you in regards to resigning from the company when you are first hired. You may be thinking, how much notice do they provide regarding a layoff. No, it is not always fair. Employers and employees are graded on two different grading scales. The sooner you come to accept that fact then the better off you will be. The take-a-way here is to think near future if not long term about the possibility of returning to this employer down the road. Burning a bridge or creating a dead-end are both a possibility if you are not careful with how you decide to leave your employer.

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