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Shot on the Job Hunt

Monday, Feb. 3, 2014

The first 20 student comments on “Shot on the Job Hunt” win a $5 Yiftee gift to a local business. Use your gift to try out that new flavor of ice cream at Mission City Creamery or spend it on two slices of your favorite pizza at Pizza My Heart. Entries must be received by midnight, Sunday, February 16th, 2014. Subscribe to the blog (by RSS or by e-mail in the right hand column) for updates.

**DISCLAIMER: All characters and scenarios in this post are fictional.**

Mike is a senior public relations major at a large university preparing to join the work force. One night, he gets in a conversation with his roommate Anne about career options and applying for jobs. Anne is also a public relations major, so they have similar interest in what they would like to do after college.

Mike finds out that Anne has recently applied to a company called Reed PR. Anne went to the career fair the previous quarter and found a contact with Reed to network with. After some time networking and finding out more about the company, Anne determined that it was her first choice company to work for. She spent hours putting together a solid application. During her conversation with Mike, Anne shows him a blog that she created for her application with her cover letter, resume, recommendation letters, writing samples, and fun facts.

The next morning, Mike decides to follow Anne’s example and create his own job application blog. He copies Anne’s format and finds out how Anne created her blog. He regularly checks Anne’s blog to look for tips in order to get a job. Mike decides to send his new blog to Reed PR as well, without telling Anne. He doesn’t think it’s important to let her know.

About a month later, Mike hears back from Reed PR that he has been invited to interview with the company. Mike tells Anne this and finds out that Anne hasn’t made it on to the next round. Anne is surprised that Mike applied to Reed and is upset at him for not telling her and copying her application format. She feels betrayed.

In a competitive world, was it okay for Mike to apply to the same job as his roommate? Should Mike have told Anne that he applied? Is it unethical that Mike copied Anne’s job application blog format? Does Anne have the right to be upset at Mike, or should she get over it?

Useful Resources:

A Framework for Ethical Decision-Making

On the Job Hunt, Trust No One

You and Your Friend Applied for the Same Job. What to do?

What to Do When You’re Competing With a Friend for a Job

Photo by Gvahim available under a Creative Commons license.

Comments Comments

Mary-Lou said on Feb 4, 2014
The competitive nature of the real world never asks for permission to accomplish its interests, and neither should an individual you consider a friend as long as they rightfully earned their qualifications for anything they intend to apply to. Similar to a college exam where you would not ask for a friend's permission to downplay their performance in order to not make you feel inadequate, it would be actually unethical to interfere with their competence by asking them to not apply to certain positions or companies. As far as the blog format for the resume, it is not a matter of copyright. The practice is widespread, and Mike was simply practical enough to tap into the right opportunity at the right time. - Like
Justin D. Fitzsimmons said on Feb 7, 2014
Even though Mike heard about the job from Anne, this job is open for all to apply. Mike is free to apply for it, and Anne should encourage him if it is a good fit (as in the last article, What to do when?). Conversely, Mike should have given Anne a heads up that he was applying for the same position. A friendship is built on trust and care, and Anne has no reason to trust Mike after this or believe that Mike cares about her. It is certainly underhanded how Mike steals Anne's ideas for the blog and the formatting. Mike should have applied in a manner more original to him, but, as Mary-Lou writes, he can't be faulted for jumping on a good idea in a cut-throat business world. Somebody else may have done the same thing in applying for the position. This may be a learning experience for Anne that teaches her to have tougher skin. Mike should have told Anne what his intentions were and figured out his own ideas. But at the end of the day, Mike has the job. The moral victory for Anne is that she is better off without Mike's friendship and, in the words of Matt Damon in Good Will Hunting, "At least I won't be unoriginal." She'll be fine finding another job that is a good fit for her. And Mike's coworkers may soon find out that Mike isn't actually a good fit. Be honest, be original. - Like - 2 people like this.
Margaret Lee said on Feb 13, 2014
I think it's definitely okay for Mike to apply to the same place as Anne. I think Mike should have informed Anne, because that's what friends do. They should support each other. If Mike is checking out what Anne does, he should at least let her know that he is and that he appreciates her tips. And at the very least, he shouldn't copy her so much. I think that demonstrates a poor work ethic. Like Justin briefly mentioned, that might cause him issues later when his reputation depends on his work ethic. If Anne came up with the blog format on her own, and he copies it, I think Mike was being unethical. However, if Anne borrowed a blog format from other sources, it isn't a big deal. If I was Anne, I would be mad too. That would stem from all that time, effort, and work put it, and having someone piggyback and succeed off of it. I say she does have the right to be mad, but she should also get over it because being mad doesn't lead to anything. - Like
Thomas L said on Feb 14, 2014
The working world is indeed extremely competitive. Mike's lack of straightforwardness isn't exactly suitable for the workforce. However, there aren't any official law or regulation about copying application formats. In terms of friendships and relationships, he acted unethically. If the situation was in the reverse, I'm sure he would have wanted to know if his friend was applying. Him not informing his friend suggests he wanted to hide the fact. And if he wanted to hide his actions, then his actions probably aren't ethical. He should be upfront and honest. That'll help him in the future. Yes, Mike acted unethically, but Anne should get over it. Like Justin said, there will be other opportunities. Her strong motivation and effort will show through and eventually impress an employer. She may have lost in this scenario, but there will be plenty more cases. And she's learned something new about people. She has to learn how to deal with those kinds of people and those kinds of situations. - Like
Dave Matthews said on Feb 17, 2014
Mike is definitely entitled to apply for the same job as Anne, everyone has the right to apply for whichever jobs they wish. However, I think he could have handled the situation better. First of all, it would have been nice for her to tell Anne he was applying. It's common courtesy. And he definitely should have asked her to use a similar format for his application, it would have been the nice thing to do. Anne would not have felt betrayed or angry had Mike simply asked her in the beginning if it was ok that he use her idea of having an application blog. The business world is extremely competitive and many times cut-throat, so its best to exhibit decency and kindness whenever possible. If Anne continues her career in business, I'm sure she will have to deal with much worse than someone stealing her blog idea, and for Mike, it's not the best way to enter the business world. - Like - 1 person likes this.
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