Integrity in Your Job Search & Career

Recently I was reviewing a career-type website to determine whether or not I wanted to link to it from this blog.  I’d exchanged a few emails with its owner who, of course, was pushing for the link.

Just when I had about made up my mind to provide the reference, I decided to click on one more page in her site.  It lead me to an article about “pretending” to work from home.

Discussing the pros and cons of telecommuting, the article laid out 10 ways to fool your employer into believing that you are busy working from home when you are actually watching Oprah or the like.

Of the 10 “tricks” to play on your employer, most of them were ludicrous.  But this one bothered me the most:

Claim daily expenses for “business lunches” to give the impression that you’re a wining-and-dining, networking whirlwind.

Not only does it encourage dishonesty, it encourages theft!  (And, sorry, but I’m not providing the credit source for the above quote.  Sue me.)

In the few seconds I scanned this article, I knew I would not provide a reference to this otherwise professional site with otherwise good information.  The lack of integrity behind just one article was enough to send me packin’.


While my one little reference to a website may not have that much value in and of itself, given my small (but growing!) following here, a person’s integrity is priceless.

I mentioned in another post the story of a job candidate who was caught lying about her “current” employer.  The company wanted to offer her a position, but during the vetting process they discovered that she “fudged” dates of employment to make it look like she was working when she wasn’t.

The interviewer really wanted to hire this gal, and tried to justify the “fudge” as an honest mistake.  But, clearly, it wasn’t.  In a LinkedIn discussion about the issue, many people said, “Give her a break.  In times like these, we have to do what we have to do to get the job.”  Others of us said, “There’s no excuse for lying on a résumé or in a job interview.  How could an employer ever trust this person thereafter?”

It’s not a matter of whether someone will get caught; It’s about understanding and appreciating the value of your integrity so that “getting caught” is not at issue.

A Personal Example

A well-meaning friend of mine recently gave me a “creative” idea for finding a job.  He suggested that I pretend (there’s that word again) to apply for a job for which I was clearly over qualified in order to get my credentials in front of someone who could find me a more suitable position.

Sure.  It might work.  And, I need a job badly.  But could I actually walk in someone’s office under the guise of being an applicant, when I’m not?  No.  Instead, I decided to untwist the twist, and use his creative idea a bit differently, in a way that does not compromise my integrity.

One More Example

Earlier in the year, I reconnected with an old friend from Junior High School. (Ah, the joys of FaceBook!)  I asked, “What do you do?”  He replied, “I sell home entertainment systems.”   A few hours later, he admitted that he was selling these things from the back of his van, and that it wasn’t “exactly legal.”  He did not have a solicitor’s permit, for starters.

At first, I wasn’t too put off by it. I thought, “He’s out there trying to earn a living.  A guy without an education, who is 5-years sober, has a tough go of it, but at least he’s not sitting back taking advantage of government assistance.”

But, as a short amount of time passed, and as I learned the particulars of his “career,” my thought-process changed.

As it turned out, he was buying these home theater systems for $100.  Then, he’d hit the street, pretending to be a delivery guy.  Upon seeing a prospective victim, he’d throw his pitch, hollering out his van window: “Hey, buddy, you wanna buy a home theater system?  They put an extra one on my truck by mistake.  I’ve got 20 minutes to get rid of it or I gotta take it back to the shop.”  He’d then produce a magazine which “proved” that the system was worth $3000, making it look like a bargain when he asked for $300.

One day he said, “If I take every penny they have in their wallet, I’ve had a good day.”  He meant it.  When I said, “But what it that guy has kids to feed and you just took his last dollar?”  He replied, “Hey, it ‘aint my fault when someone’s stupid.”

True.  It’s not his fault.  But, his lack of character and integrity was clear.  If it’s “hard” for a recovering addict who is also uneducated to make an honest living, it’s up to that person to get hard with it: Get an education, no matter how hard it is.  He demeans the value of his admirable ability to overcome addiction by otherwise living a pretense.


Often people say, “But my employer is cheating me.  I’m only taking what I deserve.”  Or, the job seeker says, “If you don’t cheat, you’ll never get the interview in this market!”  True, or not?

One supervisor for a national chain of restaurants decided to “help out” his subordinates by creating two systems for time sheets.  One was accurate, and the other was the one he turned in for payroll.  He said, “If corporate won’t allow these single mother’s to take off when their kid needs to go to the doctor, it’s their problem.”

This “Robin Hood” approach, no matter how one justifies it as “righteous,” shows a lack of integrity which, in turn, shows a lack of character.

If a situation is so unjust that it leads employees or job seekers to cheat, the someone is missing the point.  Rather than lying to “beat the system,” take the initiative to change the system.  Sure — it may mean a lot of hard work, an uphill battle that requires patience and persistence — but to do otherwise is a mar on your character.

For an excellent list of ways to build and maintain your integrity on the job, check out this article by Rose Halas.


The phone rings at the crack of dawn.  You answer to a voice proclaiming, “Oh, I’m sorry.  I woke you!”  Automatically, without thinking, you hear yourself saying, “No. No. I was up.”

Why do so many people feel compelled to tell this little white lie?   Don’t we all already know that we’ve woken someone — when the sleep is so evident in their voice that you can visualize the sheet lines pressed into their face?

If you call and wake me up, I don’t hesitate to say, “Yeah. I was sound asleep.”  If you then say, “Do you want me to call you back?” I’ll answer you honestly — usually saying “I’ll call you when I get up.”  By giving an honest answer, have I in some way lessened your opinion of me?  Do you think, “Lazy bum! You should be up at 6:00 a.m. on a Saturday!”  (Frankly, if the caller does think that, I don’t give a rats arse.)

The point is:  If you lack the confidence to be honest, to value your integrity, how can you claim to your employer or potential employer that you are worthy of being hired or promoted or assigned that big account you so badly want?  Doesn’t it take confidence to be truly successful and productive?

“If you have integrity, nothing else matters.  If you do not have integrity, nothing else matters.” Alan Simpson

A little integrity is better than any career.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

This, above all:  To thine own self be true. William Shakespeare

Don’t compromise yourself.  It’s all you’ve got. Janis Joplin

~Lynda C. Watts

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10 Responses to Integrity in Your Job Search & Career

  1. Excellent article Lynda! Integrity is VITAL to gaining credibility. Cheating is never justifiable in my opinion. Anyone that would use the word “fool” in the title of their post is throwing up a red flag without even having to read the post! Taking advice from an individual telling you to “pretend” is another red flag. Integrity may be the road less travelled but it is the highest choice one can make, and the only road to take if you want to create long term success.

    • lyndacwatts says:

      Thanks for the comment, Debbie. I don’t know if you are referring to the bad blog article I brought up, or to my well-meaning friend, when you say, “Taking advice from an individual tell you to ‘pretend’ is another red flag.” With regard to my friend, who’ll I’ll not hesitate to defend, I don’t think he intended that I do anything “dishonest.” Just a clarification. 🙂
      You also mentioned “the road less traveled.” Any chance you’ve read the book with that title? It’s my personal favorite!

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    • lyndacwatts says:

      Thank you for your comment. I’m glad you enjoy the blog! I hope you “digged it” to bring in more viewers. 🙂

      The theme is the “Twenty Ten” by the wordpress staff. It’s the standard theme that automatically comes with a new blog, but you can select from a large variety of other themes. I stuck with the standard theme because I was able to fully customize it. I added the background, the header, etc. Really glad you like it!

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