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The Unethical Job Search

June 3rd, 2009

A few weeks ago I got an email linking to a story about a guy who did something different to land a job.  You can read the entire story here.

In short, they guy found a job he really wanted.  Instead of applying for it, he decided to:

… [pose] as a comparable employer and posted a comparable job opening online. He asked applicants to send a resume, cover letter and salary their requirement.

He got dozens of “applications” from poor, unsuspecting job-seekers. His little ruse allowed him to gauge his competition, and to identify an appropriate salary range. With this new-found omniscience,  he applied for the job. And guess what… he got it.

This rubbed me wrong, but I couldn’t figure out why.

Sure, I think it’s unethical (well there you go, the red flag).  But here’s the deal – while in a job search it’s easy to get in a position where you would do something you normally wouldn’t do… don’t you think?  I mean, if your ethics were in-any-way shaky, and you were between a rock and a hard spot, maybe you could bend the unwritten rules just once… don’t you think?

I finally figured out why this rubbed me wrong, no matter how desperate you are.

First, it’s wrong. It’s unethical.  You have violated a lot of people’s trust (not in you, directly, but still, trust was violated and you took advantage of unsuspecting people).  That should be reason enough.

If that isn’t, then here’s what I came up with this week:

Second, we don’t need more shady ethics in our world. It destroyed Enron (I think).  I can’t imagine that good ethics has helped GM get to where they are at today.  Ethics are a huge issue in our world – if you are going to stoop this low to land your job, what will you do to make a sale once you got the job?  Where are the boundaries?

Keep moving boundaries and I’m sure to not want to hire you… I can’t have unethical things going on in my business… can I?

Would you like to work for someone who is unethical?  (IT SUCKS, trust me)

Would you like to work at a company with shady ethics?

Then why would you land that job with questionable ethics?

I get the “I have to survive” thing.  Been there.  Working through it.  But lowering your standards should not be acceptable.

Think this is a black-and-white subject?  Read the comments – it’s polarized… unethical behavior is applauded by some and frowned upon by others.

Where do you stand?

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8 Responses to “The Unethical Job Search”

  1. If I was an employer who just hired this guy and I learned about his approach, I would get rid of him as quickly as I could. How could I trust him? How could our clients trust him?

    The first quality I look for in an employer is integrity. I don’t want to work for someone who thinks that if the pressure is high enough, it’s “sometimes” OK to screw their employees, clients, and shareholders, and the public. Therefore, I would not expect the same employer to appreciate dishonest behaviour in employees.

    “Sean” (as he is called in the original post) wasted several people’s time, and incrementally added to the disappointment, stress, depression, and anxiety of the applicants on his non-existent job offer. He was an ass to many so he could profit from their work (doing their own research, fine-tuning their resumes, etc.) and pass it off as his own.

    In addition, it can be argued that “Sean” did in fact commit something illegal as well unethical. He obtained personal information on fraudulent premises, and he used false advertisement by offering something he was not actually able to deliver on. Mail fraud could probably be tacked on, as well as breaching the terms of contract with most ISPs (it’s not that different from pretending to be Nigerian royalty or offering cures for erectile dysfunction.)

  2. Al says:

    Nothing hard to figure out there – you nailed it.

    Disappointing, but not surprising, to see the number of comments over there saying this was a great thing, too, including from the guy who wrote it saying he was impressed.

    Of course, that assumes the story and all the comments are real in the first place – could be a linkbait fake story about a fake story. I mean, if the guy who wrote it says he was impressed with the tactic…maybe he was just “creative” enough to make it all up and we fell for it. :-)

    In fact, that’d be about the best thing you could hope for here – other than it being real, word getting back to the company, and the guy getting fired because of it.

  3. Elliot Ross says:

    Hmm,

    In my region that actually may be an offense…..

    here is why – we have legislation that prohibits obtaining & divulging personal information (even companies or doctors can’t) that includes name / address / gender / phone etc. (Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act)

    That opens the interesting legal question that since he obtained personal info fraudulently (from the people who responded to his fraudulent ad) would that be covered under the act……

  4. John says:

    As co-founder of the blog Unemploymentality.com (who ran the original story) I can vouch for the authenticity of both the story and the comments that follow it.

    For the record, I think what he did is horribly unethical, simply based on how inconsiderate it is of other people’s time and energy. Especially since what the guy really wanted was to figure out what salary range he could ask for. There are so many other ways to find out this information without costing innocent people a lot of time and energy – there are sites where you can search for this info, you can call a similar company in a similar market and as their HR dept. what the salary range, or you can simply find someone on Linkdin. That’s why the comments that bothered me the most where the ones that said that this guy was really ‘creative’ or ‘brilliant.’ Since when is conning innocent people, ‘brilliant.’ He was simplylazy and inconsiderate.

    ….interesting point Elliot.

  5. Anil Atluri says:

    Outrage is the first thought that comes to mind. If Sean wanted to know the salary range, there are plenty of other ways to know it. I second Sophie’s action.

  6. Ernie Perez says:

    Interesting commentary about ethics for the individaul job seeker. What about the company that hired this person — were they clueless about this candidate or did they see these actions as appropriate?

  7. Jason Alba says:

    @Ernie – I don’t have that information… some companies would probably not care. Other companies, if they found out, would probably keep this person on a short leash, or at the least, be suspicious of him in the future.

  8. Lorraine says:

    I also agree with Sophie (and those who agree with her). There are enough job scam postings around without this guy adding to it. I’d fire his a$$ in a heartbeat. He thinks like a criminal — not good employee material.

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