The Ethics of Accepting a Job Offer

By Megan Bradley


Imagine this scenario:

You’ve been looking for an apartment for months. You’re starting to worry about having housing for the next year because your lease is about to expire. Then- just in the nick of time, you find a great place. It’s close to campus and the rent is affordable! So you pack up your place and are ready to go, when the day before the big move, you get a call from the apartment manager saying that they found someone that they liked better for the apartment.

Certainly they can’t do that, can they?  No, of course not. That wouldn’t be right; you spent a lot of time looking for that apartment. This is exactly how employers feel when you accept a job offer then renege at the last moment. A lot of time, money and effort go into finding a candidate and when they extend a job offer, it is often with great anticipation.

The issue at hand is that of professional ethics. With the economy slowly on the rise, we are hearing more and more of cases of students accepting job offers with the full intention of walking away if something better comes along. You accept the first offer because you are excited and relieved. So then, why are you still interviewing?

The fact of the matter is that if you are still accepting interviews or considering other offers, you should not say with certainty that you accept an offer. Once you accept, you have made a commitment to this company and they have probably moved forward with a lot of decisions dependent on you starting the job.

So before accepting a job, take some time to consider the following:

  1. Are the pay/benefits and location correct?
  2. Does this job offer opportunity for growth and development in an area you would like to continue moving towards?
  3. Do you like the company or organization?  Do you connect with their mission, products or goals?  Is it in line with your personality, values and interests?
  4. If you’re hoping or expecting for a call or an interview from another company, have you followed up with them?  Can you ask your original company for a time extension to consider the offer?

shaking hands

Once you’ve accepted a job, then it’s time to say goodbye to other interviews/job offers. Because the truth is:

  1. You have made a commitment.  Protect your reputation by honoring your commitment.
  2. The Silicon Valley is a small place and people talk across industries.
  3. This probably won’t be your job forever!  You’re not signing the rest of your life away.

So, congratulations on the job offer. The company obviously thinks that you are the right person for them. If you do too, prove them right by following through and rocking the job!

megan bio picMegan Bradley is a Career Consultant at San Jose State University and has been with the Career Center for three years. Her background in Residence Life gives her a unique perspective when focusing on Science and Education students and her interest in social media and innovation drive her to meet students where they’re at with career education.


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