Recently, long-time social media blogger Mark Schaefer wrote about a topic we’re hearing a lot more about recently: Ghosting.

Now, to be honest, I was hearing a lot more about ghosting as it applied to HR folks. In fact, that’s been happening for YEARS. However, it seems to have been ratcheting up lately. What Mark was talking about was candidates ghosting HIM. That, I had not heard about as much.

However, it’s probably not surprising. Let’s consider the reasons why people ghost, as laid out by a behavioral psychologist in Schaefer’s post. Namely, conflict avoidance and low accountability–two that seem more prevalent now than in the past. The former is the same reason young people don’t use the phone. The latter is the same reason kids are having a hard time showing up to class recently (don’t get me started on this one).

Mark’s outcome of all this: He just needs to toughen up. And that may be true. However, I would also throw a word of caution to young people who are employing this approach: Your long-term reputation is at stake here.

Ghosting may be “acceptable” (and sadly, common) now. However, what happens when the job market tightens up (which could easily happen with a recession on our doorstep)? Jobs will become more scarce and competition will increase for jobs. Ghosting will be an easy way to cut people out.

But, more importantly, think about your long-term reputation. Because that’s what really matters here. What most (including me) don’t understand when they’re in their 20s is that your reputation (and network) is what will land you bigger jobs in the years ahead. And if you had a reputation of ghosting people when looking for jobs, that’s a huge strike against you. And you better believe people talk. Heck, Mark Schaefer was BLOGGING about it. You don’t think he’s telling anyone who will listen about that on phone calls and meetings? And, I’d bet he’s sharing the names of those people who ghosted him. Yeah, people talk. And if your rep is one that includes ghosting that word is going to get around quickly.

So yeah, the job market might be tilted heavily in your favor right now. You might have the “luxury” of ghosting people. But, those people aren’t going to forget your actions. And word travels fast in the comms/PR/social industry—it’s not that big in any given market. Remember, your reputation is really all that matters—especially as you advance in your career. Act accordingly.

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