The year was 2005. I was a few years into my career as a Graphic Designer, and actively applying for jobs in a city 3,000 miles away. I received a callback for a role that seemed to have everything I wanted in my next creative position. I was legitimately excited about the opportunity.
The interview process took a full month. First, I went through a phone-screen with HR, then a solo interview with a supervisor, then a very stressful panel interview where 4 different people barked questions into a crackly speaker-phone (video-conferencing wasn’t a thing yet). It was a pretty terrible experience. But I still wanted that job.
For my final round, I needed to complete a series of timed tests to confirm my skills with design layout, color, grammar, editing, etc. These had to be administered over the phone and through email, because I was the only candidate who was not local and couldn’t go into the office. It was beyond stressful.
I stayed positive. I aced everything. I expected to hear back the following week.
The email never came. The call never came. I followed up 3 times, trying to reach someone—ANYONE—to confirm my suspicion that I wasn’t selected for the position. I needed closure.
How could this be? What did I do? Was I really so worthless that they couldn’t be bothered to type a single email? I cried a lot. I moved anyway. I landed a Sr. Designer job a month later. I forgot about that insulting experience.
Fast-forward 10 years. I was an Art Director in a national agency that was recently acquired. During my first week in the new offices, I sat next to a Sr. Designer I didn’t know, and we began chatting. It wasn’t long before I discovered that she was the designer who actually GOT THAT JOB back in 2005.
And she told me EVERYTHING I was NOT missing by being the runner-up.
What I realized at that moment is that rejection was actually protection. I was happy I didn’t end up getting any offers from companies who ghosted me. Because if I had been hired, I would've unknowingly associated myself with a company that treats people in a disrespectful manner.
So, the next time you’re ghosted, know that it has nothing to do with you, or your value in our creative landscape. It’s simply an organization’s way of subtly telling you that you wouldn’t be treated well if you were hired. And believe me (and my friend who got that job) you should be very grateful for that.