Tough Times Create an Ethical Dilemma for Job Seekers

A job seeker on the Dice Discussions board asked if it’s ethical to keep interviewing, even though he’d accepted a conditional job offer. After all, he’d be wasting the interviewer’s time. In a vibrant economy, a well-intentioned job seeker would probably cancel upcoming interviews, because employers seldom reneged on an offer. But in this tepid economic environment, a struggling company may rescind an offer and it could take months for the job seeker to rebuild a pipeline of opportunities.

Job seekers have to watch out for themselves during tough times, and new hires are particularly vulnerable to lay offs, especially if the company decides to cut staff during their probationary period. Plus, you don’t know how a company may interpret your credit score or background information and, though it’s rare, errors do occur and a company may refuse to put you on the payroll until your record has been cleared.

The bottom line is this: Keep interviewing until you feel reasonably secure in your new job. If you want to avoid damaging your reputation, let the manager know at the beginning of an interview that you’ve received a conditional offer. He or she may shorten the meeting, but sharing the news could actually work in your favor because the idea of competing for your services could pique his interest. Even if you end up accepting another offer, a manager will appreciate your honesty. In fact your candor may help you keep the door open in case you need to replenish your pipeline of opportunities.

— Leslie Stevens-Huffman