Applying for work can be stressful, partly because the process varies from company to company, leaving you unsure of what to expect from one job to the next. Will the employer want a resume, or do they have an application you need to complete? Is there a lengthy screening process, or will you be able to start right away if you’re selected for the job? Well, there is one aspect of the job search process that should always be consistent, and while they don’t get talked about often, they are extremely important: ethics.

Practicing sound ethics when applying for work will not only help you build professional trust and respect with potential employers, it will also help you steer your career in a direction that you can feel good about. Here are some important ethical tips to keep in mind when trying to land your next job:

Don’t lie, embellish, or misrepresent yourself. 

Presenting a potential employer with false information is simply unacceptable. Deception shows a lack of character, and when your lies are discovered (as they so often are), they will damage any professional trust and respect you have built with the employer. After all, if you’ve lied about something as simple as your previous employment, how can they trust you to act with integrity when you’re on the job and managing all of the responsibilities and challenges that come along with it? Don’t forget, it’s not just the one job that you’ve hurt your chances with – most employers take falsification of an application very seriously, so being caught in the act can mean that you’re ineligible for future consideration for any job at that company. And, if the lie is caught after you’re employed, it may very well result in termination. 

The negative consequences of lying to a potential employer aren’t limited to getting caught, either. You may also be setting yourself up for failure, and cheating yourself out of jobs that you could truly thrive in. You see, when employers prepare job advertisements, they do so with careful consideration of the skills and experience needed to perform the job well. So if lying is the only way to land the job, then chances are, it may not be a job that you will be successful in anyway. When you start the job, you will be expected to perform at a level consistent with the stated requirements, and the gaps in your skills will be apparent if you can’t deliver. Poor performance will limit your chances of success and growth within the role, and could even lead to termination – leaving an unexpected gap in your work history that you’ll have to explain in your next interview. Long story short, always be truthful – in the grand scheme of things, transparency will open more doors for you (and more of the right ones, at that)!

Avoid talking negatively about former coworkers or employers. 

No matter how justified you feel in your frustration with former peers or supervisors, don’t waste your interview time speaking ill of others. Everyone knows that there are two sides to every story, so no matter how right you may think you are, those words could potentially backfire and give the employer a negative impression of you. After all, the other party isn’t there to give their side of the story, so the interviewer can only guess as to whether they’re getting the full scoop, or if you’re placing blame on others to avoid personal accountability. It’s not necessary to speak poorly about others to demonstrate that you’re a strong, capable candidate. Instead, keep your interviewer’s focus right where it should be – on the skills, experience, and personal attributes that make you the perfect person for the job!   

Follow through with commitments.

One of the best ways to demonstrate your ethics, integrity, and respect in the job search process is to follow through with any commitments you make. If you have an interview or meeting scheduled, show up, and show up on time. If a potential employer requests additional information that you have agreed to provide, such as references or a transcript, be sure to send them promptly. If something comes up and you can’t keep a commitment you’ve made, or you decide you are no longer interested in the job, simply notify the employer in a timely manner so they can make alternate arrangements. Ghosting an employer reflects poorly on you, and could negatively impact your prospects with the company should you decide to apply again in the future. These steps, while quite simple, are very important and go a long way in showing your reliability, as well as your respect for the employer’s time and efforts. Wouldn’t you want that same courtesy extended to you?

Please join us for future articles as we explore other skills that are important in the job search and in the world of work, and provide tips on how to improve these skills. If you are looking for work, contact a recruiter today.