Boo freakin’ hoo: What to do if you’re being professionally ghosted

Ghosting is the worst. Like, hello, it’s me. But where did you go? I’ve emailed 47 times, called, left you 12 voicemails, DM’d, Snapchatted, written a thank you note, and sent an MF’ing carrier pigeon with macaroons.

You call me a stalker, I call it being thorough. The collective “they” told me, in the working world it’s important to follow up. It shows tenacity. It shows that you’re willing to go the extra mile!

But it’s also important to recognize when it’s simply not working. The above may be an exaggeration, but professional ghosting happens and it’s more difficult to navigate than relationship ghosting. Especially if you have to see the person who is ignoring you in the workplace. Water. Cooler. Awkward.

Here are four common and rather uncomfortable PG (professional ghosting) scenarios and how to handle them. Because while everyone loves a macaroon, it might make you look like a macaloon.

You had a interview, followed up, & never heard back

This one is pretty simple and the closest to relationship ghosting as it gets. What do you do? Move on. Accept that it wasn’t the right fit and focus your efforts elsewhere. What you may have thought was the perfect job for you, there are countless reasons that it wasn’t. (At least according to your not-future employer.)

While it’s frustrating and can make you a little blue in the ankle boots, the right opportunity is somewhere else.

Keep the email and the contact in case you have reason to reach out in the future, and go sew your wild working oats elsewhere.

You pitched your boss a fab idea, followed up, & she’s still ignoring it

Knowing when to push an idea harder with your boss is a very tricky, gray area. It depends on your relationship, how she likes to be approached,

There’s a possibility she simply forgot and your follow-up got buried under a pile of pressing to-dos. There’s also the chance that she hated it, dismissed it, and has already moved on.

First, ask yourself if it really is the great idea it is in your head. We can get a little blinded by our egos and attached to ideas that aren’t working. If you still think it’s top-notch, run it by a colleague you trust. If they think it’s great, pop by your bosses office and ask if they have 30 seconds. For the third attempt, an in-person F/U is the best.

That way you can really gauge their reaction. An email is easy to ignore. Plus it shows a boldness and drive that will be appreciated, even if the idea is not.

If your colleague is less enthusiastic than you expected, move on, and wow your boss with the next 10 ideas.

Someone reGrams a photo, doesn’t credit you, & doesn’t respond to your request for credit

Creative professional deserve credit for their work, and if someone isn’t polite enough to tag you or respond to two requests (make the first one polite, the second can be a little more stern), report the photo. Sometimes it’s a simple mistake or a busy Social Director who overlooks the tag.

Make it Instagram’s problem. Because while it feels a bit like tattling, it’s even more childish of a company or person to refuse credit. You work hard and deserve the tag.

You’ve reached out to a friend/colleague/former boss for an intro or recommendation and … crickets

Using key contacts to crack open closed doors is part of the circle of working. And even though it can be really uncomfortable asking for professional favors, we all do it. However, it is quite possibly one of the worst feelings when you ask for a favor and you get straight ignored– especially when you’re asking a friend.

Here’s how to handle by contact and situation:

  • Asking a close friend for a contact or recommendation: follow up with texts, calls, Facetime. Snapchats, show up on their doorstep with dinner. Close friends are fine with your crazy. Plus, if you land a job you can buy them all the wine.
  • Asking a friendly acquaintance for a contact or recommendation: follow up once, say how much you’d appreciate it, and if they don’t respond, try to find another way in. Some contacts are awkward to give out, and it’s easier for people to ignore you than say no. But you need to accept that just because you ask, that doesn’t give you a right to their Roladex.
  • Asking a former colleague or boss for a contact or recommendation: email first and ask if you can steal three minutes of their time on a call. In most instances you should avoid texting– unless you were close and consider them a friend, in which case, see above. But if your relationship was strictly professional, keep it that way, and make the request formal. Say that the request is time sensitive, and if you don’t get a rather quick response that reasonably meets your deadline, there’s your answer. Don’t stress over one contact. Redirect that energy into finding someone different to ask. You might get a courtesy email down the line, saying something like, “I just saw this, sorry I couldn’t be more helpful.” IF, they can still be helpful, here’s your chance to hook them. If it really is too late, send a polite reply. You never want to burn a professional bridge because of a personal resentment.

Arianna Schioldager is Create & Cultivate’s editor-at-large. You can find her on IG @ariannawrotethis and more about her at

This article first appeared on Create & Cultivate.