Ethics is a more frequent topic among Career Coaches than you might think. In my many years as a Professional Resume Writer, Career Coach, Executive Career Coach, and now as an executive MBA Career Coach, I’m keenly aware that companies are in search of good character, as well as skilled employees.
For the most part, job search ethics are simple, treat hiring influencers and others the way you want to be treated: Be honest, take responsibility, and communicate fully. If you expect a company to tell the truth about what they plan to pay you, the hours you’ll work, and the duties of the position, then be honest about who you are as a candidate. The right fit is important to your job satisfaction, too!
Tell the truth on your resume. Hiring influencers are aware of the temptation to falsify credentials, experience, and references on resumes, and they do check. Make sure your resume and LinkedIn profiles match, so as to avoid the appearance of dishonesty, too.
Don’t inflate. It’s not ethical to inflate job titles, skills, salaries, or job descriptions. Dishonesty about a real job is still wrong.
Give real references. It’s a waste of time and an obvious red flag if the people you list as references are all unreachable or non-existent. Do let your references know they may be contacted about you, too.
Keep your commitments. If you schedule an appointment for an interview, show up and be on time. If you must cancel, do so at the earliest possible opportunity. Every empty interview slot prevents someone else from getting a job.
Tell the truth in interviews. Everything you say in your interviews should be a truthful statement, know your own resume well enough to give the same information.
You are not required to tell everything. You must be honest in an interview, but if your hiring influencers fail to ask, you are not required to offer additional information. For instance, if asked to talk about a time when you were criticized on the job and how you handled it, you don’t need to mention a time you were fired. You can use an example that sheds a more positive light on you.
Limit your responses about your previous jobs. You certainly may talk about what your job title, description, and duties were, but proprietary information and closely held processes and plans should NOT be discussed with another company or hiring influencer.
Do not vent. When asked about previous employers, do not take the opportunity to complain about your former organization. Use a neutral statement, that it was time to move on, instead of gossiping or complaining.
If you turn down a job, do it promptly. Don’t wait to see if another job comes in, because the organization needs to fill an open position. It’s not fair to other candidates to hold onto that offer “just in case”.