Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Job Interview Full Disclosure

Morality, Honesty and Applying For a Job

I have been pretty excited about this new job I'm applying for. I've felt confident that it would be a great fit and that both I and the company stood to gain from me working there.

Then my father in law asked if I felt there was any moral issue in not telling the company that I am planning on moving in January. I hadn't even thought about it before that, but his comments got me thinking.

Big Business

First of all, I've never really liked big business. I don't think for a minute that they are going to worry about me if they need to lay me off. I don't think that company loyalty or employee loyalty is a true principle or a moral obligation.

This is the logic that I use when I decide not to talk about my real future goals at work (move out of state, get a more interesting job). The same logic was what I'd been using in this job application process.

I figured that if they didn't ask, I wouldn't tell them. I don't think any business has the illusion that an employee they hire is going to be around for life. After my father in law's comment, I started considering different factors.

The Invisible Hand

First of all, I thought about Adam Smith's principle of the invisible hand which is summed up by Wikipedia thusly:

...[I]n a free market, an individual pursuing his own self-interest tends to also promote the good of his community as a whole through a principle that he called “the invisible hand”. ...[E]ach individual maximizing revenue for himself maximizes the total revenue of society as a whole, as this is identical with the sum total of individual revenues.

I was definitely acting in my own self interests -- who wants to hire an employee for only six months? The business was acting in it's own self interests, they were trying to hire the best employee they could get.

Could I Provide the Company Value in 6 Months

I would have worked there for six months. My skill set was very closely aligned with what they were looking for. I believed (and still believe) that I could have been profitable for them within a month or two.

That is, I think that my benefits for the company would have offset the cost of training and of the hiring process within one or two months. Some sites however say that the cost of hiring an employee is 150% of their salary. Obviously I have no way of knowing exactly how much the company would have spent, but I find that number very high for this position.

Job Hopping Is Normal Now

My generation is the slightly maligned job hopping generation. There are many different sources saying that this is a normal practice for younger workers like myself.

Granted, I've only been at my current job for 10 months, and I would be at the new one for 6, but when we move I plan on finding a job to hold for a longer time.

Am I being Selfish? (And is that wrong?)

The wonderful MPR asks if my generation is 'the selfish generation', and you know what? Sometimes I feel like I deserve better. I can't blame businesses for doing what is best for them financially going forward, but when they cut pensions and 'let go' older workers I feel like if they're not going to give me a fair shake, so why should I give them a fair shake?

I think that I don't want a lot. I just want to do something that I can support my family with and which will leave me happy at the end of the day so I can enjoy my time with my kids and wonderful wife at home.

My current job doesn't do that. I feel frustrated, bored and grumpy at the end of the day without enough energy to say "Hey! Let's go to the park and play!", which is what my two year old would really like the most.

In part that's what this whole site is about. A big part of my self improvement is that I'm trying to find out how to support my family and be able to spend better time with them. If that's selfish, then by all means I'm selfish. If that drives me to not disclose to a future employer that I'll only be around for six months, then yes, I am inclined not to tell them that.

Is it Honest?

This is where all my invisible hand job hopping selfishness broke down. After several days of introspection, I decided that

  • I wouldn't tell a lie to get a job

  • Telling only part of the truth could be as bad as lying

  • I would hate to be in the employers position and not have all the cards on the table

  • If they were planning on laying me off in six months I would want to know

  • Even if they are a big business, that didn't change the fact that deals should be done honestly

  • I felt that if I withheld information that was critical to making a good decision on their part, I wouldn't be being 100% honest with them.

*sigh* I really wanted that job. It looked like it could be fun, certainly more fun that where I am now.

I sent an email to the manager I was to interview with last week, explained my situation and said that I felt that I could provide value in the next six months. I also said that I'd be happy to telecommute from new new location if that was acceptable. They sent me back an email saying that they needed someone local and long term.

I am disappointed, and still job searching, but I feel that it's what I had to do to be honest.

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