Job Search Ethics: Doing the Right Thing
March 12, 2004
If John accepts an offer from Company X, is it okay to continue
interviewing through on-campus recruiting? If Jane's GPA is 3.31
but will probably be pulled up by graduation time, is it okay to
list a 3.5 on her resume?
If Joe has no interest in working for Company Y, but could really
use the interview practice, is it okay for him to sign up for an
These are ethical dilemmas you may find yourself faced with while
searching for a job. Whenever you are involved in a job search,
whether through Internet job postings or your school's on-campus
recruiting program, your behavior has a direct impact on employers'
perceptions of you as a candidate.
Ethical behavior becomes even more important during on-campus interviewing
when you your behavior not only affects employers' perceptions of
you, but also that of your fellow students and your school as a
whole. Employers will often make the decision whether or not to
return to a particular school based upon how successful recruiting
is. Unethical job seekers detract from a school's attractiveness.
So, how can you be an ethical job seeker?
Keep the following suggestions in mind as you go through the job
- Do not lie - ever. From your resume, to your cover
letter, to the actual interview, honesty is your best policy.
It may be tempting to round up your 3.13 GPA to a 3.2 or to list
Visual Basic as one of your computer skills even though you won't
take that course until next term, but these actions can have very
negative consequences. If a potential employer learns that you
misrepresented yourself at any point in the interview process,
it is perfectly reasonable for that employer to terminate your
candidacy status or to revoke any offers which may have been given.
It is much better to present yourself accurately and to explain
any discrepancies or concerns. If you are concerned about a low
GPA, lack of particular skills or experiences or other requirements,
make an appointment to talk to a counselor
for guidance on the best way to present this information.
- Only apply and interview for jobs you are truly interested
in. Never treat an interview as practice. Remember that
a recruiter's time is just as valuable as yours. Whether interviewing
on-campus or at the company site, chances are good that the employer
only has a limited number of interview time slots. When you take
a time slot for a job you are not interested in, you are preventing
a student who may have a sincere desire to work for that organization
from interviewing. Furthermore, many companies will pay for your
travel expenses when they invite you to interview at their work
site. If you feel you need interview practice, sign up for one
of our Videotaped Interview Practice
Workshops or ask a counselor for more specific interview advice.
- Accept a job offer in good faith. When you agree
to work for a particular organization, you are expected to contact
all other organizations you have applied to and are interviewing
with to withdraw your candidacy. You should also remove yourself
from any future interview schedules. It is never acceptable to
accept a job offer with the idea you will change your mind if
a better offer comes along. If you receive an offer from what
is not your first-choice employer, use the offer as an opportunity
to contact your first-choice and see when they will make an offer.
(If you have a question about how to do this diplomatically, see
the Career Center staff for advice.) Once you accept a job offer,
your prospective employer has every expectation that you will
come to work and now considers your position filled. Reneging
on an offer puts the employer in a position where they may be
understaffed and may have lost second-choice candidates to other
organizations. If you find yourself faced with an offer you are
not sure about, come and talk to a counselor for assistance in
the decision-making process.
Being an ethical job seeker means "doing the right thing."
If you find yourself questioning a situation and not sure what the
"right thing" is, come and see us. Career Center staff
are readily available to discuss your options.
This article was adapted from an article written by Nicole M.
Snyder, Associate Director for Recruitment & Employer Relations
in the Office of Career Services at Princeton University. This article
has been copyrighted by the National Association of Colleges and