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Little payoff for being candid in New Economy

DEAR J.T. & DALE: You recently responded to a question from someone who had a good job offer but was hoping for a better offer from his “dream employer.” He wanted to simply explain the situation to the company making the first offer, but you urged him to just accept that job, then back out if the other offer came through. This advice surprised me, as you often have advised people not to lie. The deception you suggest was disappointing. – Eileen

Dale: I know what you mean, Eileen. I, too, prefer the old-school approach of being candid and expecting cooperation in return. But it’s not that kind of economy, not anymore.

J.T.: I had a client who was in this exact position. I advised him to accept the job and not say anything about continuing to interview with the second employer. He did not like this advice and decided to tell the first employer the truth. He proudly informed me that they took it very well, said they understood and would wait to hear from him. Then, the very next morning, he got an email from them, withdrawing their offer. To make matters worse, he did not get the job with the dream employer, sending him back to square one. The moral of the story? As much as you want to tell the first company the truth, they really do not need to hear that they are your second choice. Instead, accept their offer, and should you land the dream job, then you can deal with the wonderful problem of having two jobs to choose from.

Dale: I agree. This is what honesty looks like in the New Economy: As an employee, you don’t lie, but you don’t turn away from a new and better future for the sake of loyalty to an employer who probably cannot return it. You go with today’s truth, say “yes,” and if tomorrow brings a better truth, then you grab it. And Eileen, if you need more, here’s a related example of just how harsh the workplace can be, sent to us by my friend Tony Lesce of Albuquerque: “A woman who worked for the same company as I did gave her supervisor two weeks’ notice, saying she had found a job that paid better. He implored her not to leave, saying he would match the pay level of her new job. Next payday, she saw that her paycheck was the same. She asked him about it, and he said that this was a clerical error and that he’d get it straightened out. Next payday, same thing. When she asked her boss about it, he replied that he ‘just couldn’t see his way clear’ to giving her a raise. He’d been lying all along. He just wanted her to tell her new employer that she wasn’t coming. Someone else was hired in her place, and she was stuck.”

Dear J.T. & Dale: Last month I sent my résumé to my dream employer for a job posting I saw online. I just had my résumé reviewed and found it was all wrong. It’s been redone now and looks much better. Can I send the new, improved version to the employer? The job is still posted. – Rudy

J.T.: I wouldn’t send it online again. It’s likely they already reviewed your online application and decided not to move forward with you.

Dale: Then again, what could it hurt? Sure, there’s a chance that their process will recognize that you already applied and will block your new résumé, but so what? There’s no résumé mafia coming after you. And who knows? The new one might just get through.

J.T.: I won’t argue with that. However, it’s unlikely to produce results. What you need to do now is go around the online application process. Try to find someone you know who knows someone who works there, and see if he or she might introduce you via email to the hiring manager. That way, you can send an email and attach the new and improved résumé. Also, the referral will increase the chances that they’ll interview you because you know an existing employee.

Jeanine “J.T.” Tanner O’Donnell is a professional development specialist and the founder of the consulting firm jtodonnell. Dale Dauten resolves employment and other business disputes as a mediator with AgreementHouse.com. Please visit them at jtanddale.com, where you can send questions via email, or write to them in care of King Features Syndicate, 300 W. 57th St., 15th Floor, New York, NY 10019.

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