Wednesday, April 29, 2009

a good rule of thumb is

Have you ever had a conversation with yourself that sounded something like this?

Hum… I want to apply for this job position but they are looking for five years experience. I guess if I add up all my time here and all my time there it would count. Let’s see, they are looking for a manager. I wasn’t necessarily a manager but I worked with one often so that’s kinda similar. They are also looking for a candidate that has a college degree, which I have but they would like to hire someone who’s academic focus was in something I only had one class in. I guess I’ll leave it blank and maybe they will assume it’s covered. 

Yikes, this next part says they want the person to do this, this, and that. Arg. I only did one of those things [and actually I didn’t really like it but I love this company and I would really like to work for them] so maybe I will reference my responsibilities in a general way as to associate my experience with what they are looking for. How much did I make at my last job? [I want to make more, I want to make more] I made $75,000. [I made $60,000] They will never know.

Can you count the number of ethical upsets here? Have you been in this position before? Do you even notice anymore when you have a slight shift in the truth? I bet you do. I bet your body notices. I bet no matter if you have altered the truth once or a thousand times, your heart gets a little heavy every time. Listen to that uneasy and awkward feeling friends! Be true to yourself and your future employers. Tell the truth about who you are, what you have done, and what you would like to do.

In Job Search Ethics: Don’t Lie, Deborah S. Hildebrand looks at a survey done by the Society of Human Resources Management (SHRM) on the most common resume lies. Might recognize these from our internal conversation above:

  • Inflated titles
  • Incomplete or inflated degrees
  • Inflated salaries
  • Inflated accomplishments
It’s been hard out there people to get a gig but compromising your integrity folks is not the way to go. We are all being tested right now with slim to none pickins for positions. If a company hires you because you came off more inflated and qualified then you are, that is only going to lead to disappointment on both sides when you really can’t do the job right.

Doing the right thing covers more then just correctly portraying yourself on your resume. There is any number of ethical job search dilemmas out there. In this PDF by Vassar Collage, you can see a couple of different scenarios that can happen to anyone. Proper advice is offered after each inquiry but check it out – what would you do?

This isn’t a one-way street. Employers need to be employing best practices as well. According to the NACE guidelines, as a job seeker, you have the right to expect the following from employers:

  • Confidentiality
  • Accurate information
  • Freedom from undue pressure 
  • Timely communication
  • Fair treatment in the case of changing conditions requiring a revoked job offer
  • Testing information 
  • Nondiscrimination

The flip here is that potential employers are also expecting you to:

  • Provide accurate information 
  • Interview genuinely 
  • Adhere to schedules 
  • Communicate in a timely fashion 
  • Accept job offers in good faith 
  • Withdraw from recruiting when you have accepted a position 
  • Claim fair reimbursement 
  • Obtain the information that you need to make the best career decisions

Job of your dreams = doing the right thing.


  1. Hi Nikki,
    I remember you from OU! I just saw your post on the Gateway E-mail. I think we were on the same team doing the Communication Rainbow *thingie* (now there's a word to not use in an interview, right?!) LOL
    I was always impressed with your work ethic and professionalism, so I am not surprised to see you have this blog going.
    I can relate to the job search frustration. I got re-married in 2001 and about that time got laid off from my job in marketing and advertising. I *hated* that job! But when I went out looking again I had such a tough time....I'd get all the way to the last interview and then ultimately not land the jobs I was looking for. I became so frustrated, in fact, that I asked my husband to join me in a start-up. Using the skills I learned in Org Comm at OU I felt confident enough to put a development team together and incorporate. That was in 2004 and today we are making sales in the telco industry. Our company is Generonix (
    So, I have to admit I feel lucky to own part of a company now, and I owe it all to our program at OU, but on the other hand, I don't know what I'd be doing if I were single and still on the prowl for a job. Being married I have had the luxury of staying home. Actually, I was still looking for work in the meantime, though, because I'd like extra cash (since we are not making a profit yet), and my company has held me back. It's a catch-22. My experience founding a start-up has been so enriching, and yet if I mention this on a resume companies are afraid that I will leave once my own company becomes more successful. Do you have any advice for a person who has spent years building a company, but still needs work? If I leave out my experience I feel I am underselling myself and putting myself in an entry-level market.

  2. Hey Susan,
    Thanks for the comment! Starting your own business is quite the adventure. Congrats on striking out and making the world work for you.

    I totally understand wanting to make more $ on the side. I also understand the concerns potential employers would have about hiring you. It's a valid point. If things did take a large swing for the productive - would you have to leave? Maybe there is alternative outlets for more side dollars in a position that is more flexible. Sounds like you have the chops to start up so maybe starting something else up from home is the way to go. Check out the posting that had the Rat Rase link - that would be a good start!

    :-) Nikki