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Ethics In Career Management

Contributed by : Dilip Saraf

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As I look at my client pool, having now worked with about 6,000 clients globally, I"m surprised by some that are ethically challenged, even today. The reason I say "even today," is because in today"s information age it is so easy to quickly check facts and expose the truth. When I ask them to fill out the Intake Questionnaire many of those, who face these ethical barriers leave certain questions blank with a note, To be discussed in person.

During our first meeting when I dig deeper into the answers they did not provide in their responses I begin to recognize that the client"s ethical compass is on the fritz. It is as though they were ethically blind when they took certain deliberate actions during some periods in their career. Just so I understand their motivation in taking such a course of action, when I dig deeper, the answers they provide are really not that compelling. So, fully knowing that they were in violation of ethical, moral, or even legal standards that were known to them they deliberately decided to cross the line in the hopes of deriving some short-term benefit by doing so.

Once I understand their mindset, I tell them that continuing to work with me would not cleanse their past sins and that I cannot help them disabuse their sully past; I tell them that I am not an Ethics Repair Service. They are surprised to learn that they must live with their past deeds and deal with the fallout as they navigate managing the career in the future!

So, what are some of the ethical red flags that I see during my explorations with clients in the first meeting? Here is a partial list:

  1. Level of previous responsibility: Some routinely lie about the size of their team they managed, including responsibility, their budget, and other details. What gives them away is that their accomplishments do not jibe with their responsibility claims. So, lying on your rsum or during an interview about such matters can backfire very quickly. It is far more impressive to have great accomplishments with fewer resources and a smaller budget. But, stating this requires one to tell their accomplishments stories in a compelling way, something that is difficult for most, who are verbally challenged.
  2. Taking credit from others: As I dig deeper in getting the pith of some of the clients" bullets on their rsum when I hear the pronoun "we" instead of the more common "I," I find that the client is claiming credit that does not entirely belong to them. This is not only unethical, but it can also be illegal. It is like stealing someone else"s work product. It is not that difficult to crosscheck rsum statements with what is presented on one"s LinkedIn Profile. You can be assured that those who worked with you will flag those claims as doubtful and even as fraudulent, so don"t do it.
  3. Moonlighting: This is yet another case of an ethical lapse where a person holds a regular job at a company and free-lances with its competitor telling them that they are consulting with multiple clients in the same space. The problem this lie poses is when you showcase your LinkedIn Profile everyone gets to know the truth and your credibility in that entire industry can be compromised. Besides, most employers forbid their employees from working for their competitors, while in their employment, through their Employment Agreement. So, now this becomes not only unethical, but also illegal.
  4. Reporting to a "higher" boss: Some think that having a boss with a fancier title will elevate their employment status. So, when they are actually reporting to a director, some claim that they were reporting directly to the vice president (because their work was so important). Once again it is not that difficult to verify this during the routine screening or during the interview.
  5. Bigger salary: This often happens early during the screening when a recruiter calls a potential candidate and asks for their current salary. To raise their next salary some lie and throw out a bigger number, where they want their next salary to be. This response poses two problems: First with a high salary you may disqualify yourself, and will be excluded from the next round; and, second, when the employer asks you to produce W-2s (provided to you for tax filings) you would not be able to justify your claims. It is best to disclose the current salary truthfully, and then, if a question is asked about your expectations, to provide a response that allows you to go to the next step in the process. The appropriate time to bring the desired salary is AFTER knowing how strong a candidate you are as a result of your interviews.

These are just a few examples of what I encounter often in my practice. I am sure that this list can be quite long. What I would like my readers to leave with is that it is best to be honest and truthful in all your dealings and statements, so you do not have to lie awake at night wondering!

Good luck!

About Author
Dilip has distinguished himself as LinkedIn’s #1 career coach from among a global pool of over 1,000 peers ever since LinkedIn started ranking them professionally (LinkedIn selected 23 categories of professionals for this ranking and published this ranking from 2006 until 2012). Having worked with over 6,000 clients from all walks of professions and having worked with nearly the entire spectrum of age groups—from high-school graduates about to enter college to those in their 70s, not knowing what to do with their retirement—Dilip has developed a unique approach to bringing meaning to their professional and personal lives. Dilip’s professional success lies in his ability to codify what he has learned in his own varied life (he has changed careers four times and is currently in his fifth) and from those of his clients, and to apply the essence of that learning to each coaching situation.

After getting his B.Tech. (Honors) from IIT-Bombay and Master’s in electrical engineering(MSEE) from Stanford University, Dilip worked at various organizations, starting as an individual contributor and then progressing to head an engineering organization of a division of a high-tech company, with $2B in sales, in California’s Silicon Valley. His current interest in coaching resulted from his career experiences spanning nearly four decades, at four very diverse organizations–and industries, including a major conglomerate in India, and from what it takes to re-invent oneself time and again, especially after a lay-off and with constraints that are beyond your control.

During the 45-plus years since his graduation, Dilip has reinvented himself time and again to explore new career horizons. When he left the corporate world, as head of engineering of a technology company, he started his own technology consulting business, helping high-tech and biotech companies streamline their product development processes. Dilip’s third career was working as a marketing consultant helping Fortune-500 companies dramatically improve their sales, based on a novel concept. It is during this work that Dilip realized that the greatest challenge most corporations face is available leadership resources and effectiveness; too many followers looking up to rudderless leadership.

Dilip then decided to work with corporations helping them understand the leadership process and how to increase leadership effectiveness at every level. Soon afterwards, when the job-market tanked in Silicon Valley in 2001, Dilip changed his career track yet again and decided to work initially with many high-tech refugees, who wanted expert guidance in their reinvention and reemployment. Quickly, Dilip expanded his practice to help professionals from all walks of life.

Now in his fifth career, Dilip works with professionals in the Silicon Valley and around the world helping with reinvention to get their dream jobs or vocations. As a career counselor and life coach, Dilip’s focus has been career transitions for professionals at all levels and engaging them in a purposeful pursuit. Working with them, he has developed many groundbreaking approaches to career transition that are now published in five books, his weekly blogs, and hundreds of articles. He has worked with those looking for a change in their careers–re-invention–and jobs at levels ranging from CEOs to hospital orderlies. He has developed numerous seminars and workshops to complement his individual coaching for helping others with making career and life transitions.

Dilip’s central theme in his practice is to help clients discover their latent genius and then build a value proposition around it to articulate a strong verbal brand.

Throughout this journey, Dilip has come up with many groundbreaking practices such as an Inductive Résumé and the Genius Extraction Tool. Dilip owns two patents, has two publications in the Harvard Business Review and has led a CEO roundtable for Chief Executive on Customer Loyalty. Both Amazon and B&N list numerous reviews on his five books. Dilip is also listed in Who’s Who, has appeared several times on CNN Headline News/Comcast Local Edition, as well as in the San Francisco Chronicle in its career columns. Dilip is a contributing writer to several publications. Dilip is a sought-after speaker at public and private forums on jobs, careers, leadership challenges, and how to be an effective leader.



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