Category Archives: Ethics

The Pressures of the Current Workplace

If we take a look back ten years, even twenty years, into the past, we will see that the aspects that helped the workplace thrive are much different than now.  Ten to twenty years ago, online recruitment and promotion was unheard of.  Connections were made through face to face communication and word of mouth networking.  People would physically work hard to promote their specific product or to arrange meetings that would help their credibility and job standing.  Personal identity and professional identity were not nearly linked as closely as they are now.

These times were tough and the actions people took were commendable.  But times are changing and the workplace is rapidly becoming more technology based.  Audiences are more vast and diverse than ever. The link between your personal and professional identity is so close now that people often feel pressured to make sure their personal lives do not hurt his/her professional reputation.


Social media is one main factor contributing to the pressure of conforming to normative standards in the professional setting.  Self presentation has, and always will be, an important aspect of earning a positive professional reputation.  However, in our modern society, with such social media as Facebook and Instagram, individuals are now pressured to keep their personal lives at bay.  Many companies are able to view potential candidates before they even reach the interview and judged solely on what appears on these social media sites.  In my opinion, this is absolutely unfair but something that should be accepted and respected until the times catch up with technology.  Enjoy your life but do not post everything online.  Keep things to yourself.

Moving past the social media outlets, self presentation will surely help your case should you pass the social media test.  Keep yourself up to date with the normative standards of the career you plan to pursue and abide by them.  Keep yourself cleanly shaved and dress appropriately.  However, although influential, even this does not determine whether you fail or succeed at your career.  Understanding the current technologies will determine how well you succeed. No matter the type of person you are, if you are more than capable of completing the desired tasks, you will likely have a job.  For example, it is likely that a job promoting a product through social media will go to a young college graduate as opposed to an older gentlemen or lady with years of experience.  This is only because younger college students are more familiar with the current technologies.  This is not to say that older folks are at a disadvantage, they just need to make sure they are keeping up with the times.

Overall, it is important to maintain a respectable personal identity if you wish to share so much online in order to maintain a credible professional identity.  This will be the case until the times catch up with technology.  Self presentation or “branding” will always be critical in assisting your overall identity.  With the vast and diverse audience, presenting yourself in the right way will not only maintain your professional identity but also entice others to follow your ways.   fabonetworking

Blog #2: Leveling the Playing Field

If a job posting asks for 10+ years java programming experience and I claim to have 20 years of experience on my resume, I would be a bold-faced liar. As soon as any potential employer sat me down in front of a computer, my lie would be revealed and I would not be offered the job. I was the one who was wrong in this instance, by lying and wasting someone else’s time. Now what if instead I, a woman, craft my resume in a way that leaves my gender in question. If my potential employer selects me for an interview expecting and hoping for a man, isn’t he or she the one in the wrong?

Anti-discrimination laws may exist, but they can be hard to enforce, especially at the hiring stage. How could you prove that your application was rejected based on gender, race, age, religion, national origin, or a disability? The employer could just say that someone with a different skill set was a better fit for the position. This is why I think it is perfectly acceptable to make your resume as gender-, race-, age-, religion-, nationality-, and disability-neutral as possible.

I will use a personal example to illustrate my point. I know that being a woman has nothing to do with my ability to manage a database or write SQL scripts, but I also know that not everyone thinks this way. Information systems and technology is still a man’s world and women can find it hard to be taken seriously. If my resume were completely identical to a man’s, I feel that more often than not he would be chosen for a position simply because his gender is seen as an advantage to the job. What do I do when my gender, which has no bearing on my set of skills, actually puts me at a disadvantage in the eyes of some people? My only hope is to create a resume that highlights my skills and qualifications without revealing my gender. I do not have to lie. I can just leave out my involvement in Women in Technology or my work at a women’s homeless shelter, both of which hint at my gender. This way, I can at least make it to the interview stage and have a chance to show that I truly am qualified for the job, rather than having my resume completely passed over simply because I am a woman.

Now consider classes of individuals who are not protected by anti-discrimination laws. For example, less than half of U.S. states protect homosexuals from discrimination. Do people in the LGBT community have a right to keep their sexual orientation a secret in their pursuance of a career? I say yes. Discrimination against homosexuals and transgendered individuals is a huge problem today. Some employers may have personal stereotypes against these individuals that would cause them to choose a less qualified applicant over an applicant who is homosexual. Why should a member of the LGBT community have to disclose their sexual orientation, when they could work their entire lives without anyone even knowing? In my opinion, they should be able to keep this information to themselves if they choose.

Some people may say this omission of truth is wrong. I disagree, because no one is hurt in this situation. In fact, both parties benefit. The applicant benefits by getting an interview, and potentially a job. The employer benefits by adding a well-qualified applicant they otherwise would have missed to their pool of candidates to choose from for the position.

While lying about skills and qualifications is surely wrong, omitting something about yourself that is irrelevant to the job, but would be used against you, is not. To me, this levels the playing field, allowing everyone to be considered for opportunities based solely on the skills they possess and the work they have done rather than the unchangeable traits they were born with.



  • “LGBT Rights in the United States.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 09 June 2014. Web. 07 Sept. 2014.

I need a job and I will get one at any cost!

Like the Nike slogan states, “Just Do It”. In this day and age where there are job descriptions that require 4-5 years experience it is absolutely okay to stretch the truth as long as it favors you in the end. A resume is typically viewed as a reflection of who you are before you get the opportunity to come face to face with an interviewer. The truth of the matter is if he is displeased or unimpressed with your resume, you will most likely not be called in for an interview. It is no surprise that people continuously enhance their resumes especially with the unemployment rate on a steady rise. While some people are lucky enough to get a job offer, most of them are being paid way less than they were earning, and they are being hired at under 30 hours a week so the company can avoid offering benefits.

In reality, companies typically will not mention how poor the working conditions are. They tend to exaggerate the pay, and often fail to mention that some jobs are not readily available to outsiders but under legal obligations they are required to post all open jobs, in some cases, the hiring manager has already predetermined that they will hire internally (Sullivan). This unfortunately is the bitter truth. Most job seekers prepare for interviews, drive up to 90 minutes to interviews only to find out weeks later that the company has decided to go with someone different. With that being said, I doubt companies really get hurt by an applicant’s white lie. The applicant goes unbothered if he does not land the job and resumes his job search while the company obviously moves on from that interview. In the long run, no one suffers for it. However, falsifying information that can be proven and tested i.e, drug and background tests can be detrimental to an applicant and reduce his likelihood of getting the position since employers spend thousands of dollars screening applicants during the process (Harding).

As tempting as lying on your resume can be, do you strongly believe an applicant who has been unemployed for over a year would be mindful of what he presents to the interviewer? Do you think he is concerned about the interviewer’s view of him or his resume when his main goal is acing the interview and landing the job? No, because as long as he is comfortable with omitting the truth or falsifying his resume the last thing he is worried about is his ethics.

Sullivan, Dr. John. “Opinion Recruiting’s Dirty Little Secrets — What You Don’t Know Can Hurt You .”, n. d. Web. 5 Sep. 2014. <’s-dirty-little-secrets-what-you-dont-know-can-hurt-you/>.

Harding, Ryan. “5 Lies That Damage Your Reputation as a Job Applicant .” Business2community, 18 03 2014. Web. 5 Sep. 2014. <


Blog #2: The Lack of Ethics in Resumes and Why It’s OK

simpsons(Image: “Angels on My Shoulders.” 2011. Web. Courtesy of Daniebob on WordPress)

Is it acceptable to lie to a potential employer for an opportunity at your dream job? The right answer is no, but my answer is YES.

“The percentage of people who lie to potential employers is substantial” (Tomassi), and who can blame them? Employers intimidate us in ways that slightly encourage us to shade the truth. In fact, “40 [percent] of all resumes aren’t altogether aboveboard” (Tomassi). Given the circumstances of seeking for a job in a highly-competitive market, it is understandable that one of the ways people influence their resumes is by lying. “Omission is one of the most common forms of lying in the workplace” (Goman) because people want to avoid discrimination. Let’s consider Joanne Rowling. Most of us know her as J.K. Rowling. She omitted her name with the intention of misleading the reader of her sex. “Joanne Rowling had somehow gotten the idea that books by women were not as widely read or taken seriously as books by men—or that boys shy from reading female authors—and so had chosen to be known by her gender-neutral initials” (Prose).

As common as omission is in a resume, the same is not recommended for resumes internationally. In fact, resumes between the US and Asia differ tremendously. My father lives in Vientiane, Laos, and is the chairman of our family’s distribution company, KP Co., Ltd. During the summer, I visited him at the peak of hiring season and saw stacks of resumes on a desk. The sample resume below is a very similar template of one that I saw; instead of omitting personal details, they emphasize them. Click the photo below for a closer look.

International resume
(Image: “English Teacher Resume Review.” 2014. Web. Courtesy of An’nisa Khairani Haningsih on All Docs)

“Different countries expect and require certain information to be present on resumes, and therefore it is critical that your new resume meets the unique requirements of that country” (Redelman). Thus, resume-writing conventions need to adapt to their current marketplace whether it is an entirely different culture or within different domestic fields of study. It is important because the standard “one-size-fits-all” template is no longer enough to capture everyone’s attention. The field in which you apply influences the multimodal tools in your resume. For example, the following resume emphasizes the applicant’s talent in graphic design. Obviously, this would be an inappropriate template for legal professions.

Graphic designer resume
(Image: “Graphic designer resume sample.” 2014. Web. Courtesy of Vizual Resume.)


Between the two resume examples, there are differences in the contents. The second resume does not include a self-photograph or personal details that risk discrimination; though, both applicants could have lied by embellishing their experiences. This raises the question: how do we know that our competitors will not be lying in the same way that we are? “[We are] lied to from 10 to 200 times per day” (Firestone), so there is a great possibility that people are more likely to stretch or bend the truth on their resumes. After all, it becomes a cutthroat atmosphere when people are after the same job. However, I do believe that we have a moral obligation to our employers by telling them truthful experiences and giving them valid credentials so as not to waste their time interviewing us, or further, investing time and money to train us for our jobs. I think that the reason for interviewing someone is not only to get to know the applicant, but also to cross-examine the details of his/her resume. So, if you are going to embellish your experiences and credentials, then it is your sole responsibility to defend your claims.

While there are similarities between what U.S. and international applicants will do to make their resumes standout, there are differences in addition to the unique resume requirements of each country. When a U.S. citizen seeks for a job abroad, or when an international applicant seeks for a job in the U.S., there will be dilemmas that could prevent each from getting a job. For example, one trying to understand and adhere to the laws of that country and risking law violations on behalf of the business. I think that in whichever country you are, you should follow their rules. This applies to U.S. and international corporations and employees.

Another issue is language barriers that lead to miscommunication. What if a word or phrase in your resume means something entirely different in another country? It could offend the employer, or you may even have lied about your credentials unknowingly. Would you consider this lying?

Whether we think of ourselves as liars or not, “we certainly shade the truth to make it fit more comfortably into our lives—to keep it from disrupting anything from our careers to our relationships to our afternoons” (Firestone).


Sources Cited


Firestone, Lisa. “Shades of Truth: The Many Ways We Lie.” Huffingtonpost. Web. 5 Sep. 2014 <>.

Goman, Carol Kinsey. “The 10 Most Common Workplace Lies.” Forbes. Web. 5 Sep. 2014 <>.

Prose, Francine. “How Do We Judge Books Written Under Pseudonyms?” NYTimes. Web. 5 Sep. 2014 <>.

Redelman, Gavin. “How Resumes Differ from Country to Country.” Expatarrivals. Web. 5 Sep. 2014 <>.

Tomassi, Kate DuBose. “Most Common Resume Lies.” Forbes. Web. 5 Sep. 2014 <>.

Can you get away with lying?


Studies have shown that lying on a resume is fairly common. Websites such as, provide background checks, and have discovered that 34% of applicants lie on their resumes. According to, the most common lies involve: education, employment dates, job titles, and technical skills. In a market where a large percentage of applicants is lying on their resume, how does an applicant stand out? Maybe an applicant has no choice but to lie.

Certain lies may be more acceptable than others. Lying in a minor way such as leaving out certain information is the smart thing to do in many circumstances. For example, if you were a leader for a religious organization and your potential employer is a non-religious company, you may want to omit your involvement. While I support omitting certain information, I do not believe lying about education or skills is acceptable. Employers are looking for candidates with certain experiences and skills, but when they hire employees that do not meet those expectations, it ends up costing the company money.

However, it’s a competitive market and you may choose to be deceitful on your resume, but will you be able to get away with it? The internet has made it incredibly easy for employers to perform background checks and very difficult to get away with lies. According to SHRM’s 2004 Reference and BAckground Checking survey, 96% of human resources professionals reported that their organization conducts a background check on every employee. If the lies on your resume do end up getting you the job, there’s a chance they will be exposed at some point in your career. Is “embellishing” a resume worth the consequences?


Purdy, Charles. “Biggest Resume Lies and How Job Seekers Get Caught.” N.p., n.d. Web. 05 Sept. 2014.

Vaas, Lisa. “Lying on Your Resume: How Far to Stretch the Truth.” Lying on Your Resume: How Far to Stretch the Truth. N.p., n.d. Web. 05 Sept. 2014.

Don’t Ask Don’t Tell

The ethical responsibilities of résumé writing or résumé embellishment concern several parties involved in the hiring process, including the employer, the applicants chosen for screening, future applicants, current employees, and the community of people practicing that particular occupation worldwide. Here, I consider two main parties: the employer and the applicant. Employers have the advantage of choice, being able to choose one applicant from any multitude based on qualifications and interview performance, but also the advantage of having something to offer—the job. Employers have the disadvantage of first selecting interviewees based on a verbal résumé. Employers are also subject to being deceived. Applicants, on the other hand, have the advantage of embellishment, using their résumé to withhold or assert certain information, which summons ethical questions. Applicants are also at the disadvantage of not knowing who else is applying for the job, what other applicants’ résumés detail, how the other applicants compare in competency, whether or not the competition is male, female, more male, less female, young, middle-aged, black, white, Hispanic, and so forth. These details affect the competition and applicants must try to gain at an advantage. Applicants have the opportunity to embellish their résumés with assertions and omissions of certain information (Kaplan, Fisher 323). Assertions pertain to claims an applicant may make regarding his or her role in previous organizations. For instance, an applicant may claim leadership over a particular project when they may not have actually been the leader or sole leader. Assertions yield to differing degrees of truth. Omission pertains to a vast range of information that an applicant may not want their potential employer to know or may simply mask something such as gender or ethnicity prior to the face-to-face interview. Sometimes law forbids omission such as failing to list a felony conviction within the past seven years or sex-offender status. Most applicants use omission as a protective device rather than a deceptive device, we can assume with an understanding of omission’s protective nature. This summons us to recognize the difference between protection and deception in résumé embellishment. Is it ethical to hide information from a potential employer? Is it ethical to exaggerate information?

While assertions such as an applicant falsely claiming leadership over a past project may help the said applicant appear well qualified, telling the truth may prove just as effective in the interview or screening process. Informing a potential employer of a lawsuit against oneself or one’s company may negatively affect one’s chances to make it past the screening process. Here, if an applicant omits such information, they may protect their professional impression without shaming their potential employer. Applicants should be honest about information that can and may be verified, but also cautious about how much they embellish. It would be to no one’s advantage to hire the wrong person for the job. The applicant would fail if they were hired and proved disqualified. They would need to resign or wait to be terminated. By the nature of the hiring process though, some would say that embellishment is not merely a strategy but also a necessity. Alexei Marcoux asserts that applicants make choices to embellish two type of information, verifiable and non-verifiable information in their résumés (Marcoux, 183). Marcoux points out that “in the United States…[employers] will verify no more than dates of employment and job titles for prospective employers who contact them seeking background information on a job candidate” (Marcoux, 184).

With those ideas examined, and limits defined, applicants should, and must, embellish their résumés to enhance or even compete with other applicants. Likewise, employers should consider possible embellishments and evaluate them as an applicant’s attempt to conform to their potential employer’s needs and wishes. Since no law requires absolute honesty in assertions of non-verifiable information, applicants should always take advantage of opportunities to enhance their impression on employers. Finally, omission of certain information in a résumé is merely a protective measure to maintain dignity and privacy. Why should an applicant inform a potential employer of something that they were not required to include or disclose?


Kaplan, David, and James Fisher. “A Rose By Any Other Name:     Identity And Impression Management In Résumés.” Employee Responsibilities & Rights Journal 21.4 (2009): 319-332. Business Source Complete. Web. 5 Sept. 2014.

Marcoux, A. M. (2006). A counterintuitive argument for résumé embellishment. Journal of    Business Ethics, 63, 183–194.

Blog # 2: The Ethics of Resume Writing

Although one might tend to think of the resume as a relatively stable genre of business communication, research shows resume writing practices–like all communication practices–are influenced by a variety of contextual factors.

This resume departs substantially from a conventional format that emphasizes text and narrative, in favor of a more visual presentation of information. Considering that it appears to be targeting to graphic design professionals, however, that departure from the norm is possibly a strategically effective one. (Image “Resume Infographics” used courtesy of a CC license by Bart Claeys on Flickr)
For example, discrimination on the basis of race, gender, religion, national origin, disability, and age are all illegal in the U.S. pursuant to federal law. Employers are, therefore, prohibited from requiring disclosure of such information on a job seeker’s resume or application. In addition, job applicants themselves may go to great lengths to avoid voluntarily disclosing any of these traits to potential employers. Because of the history of discrimination in the U.S. against people of color, women, religious and ethnic minorities, immigrants, older applicants, and the disabled, many applicants feel–with some justification–that intentional and unintentional discrimination still persists in hiring practices in spite of the law. Thus, for instance, research shows minority applicants might use a relative’s address instead of their own in order to avoid an employer’s potentially negative views of a “racially identifiable” neighborhood, or they may omit “affiliations with organizations known for pursuing social and civil rights goals because those could hint at activism and undermine the team-player image of predominately white corporations” (Davis, Muir 41).

In contrast, in China a different set of cultural variables has given rise to a very different set of resume writing practices. Thus, as recently as 2011, Chinese job applicants regularly included “detailed personal information, including gender, date of birth, hukou, and more” in their resumes. Research also confirmed a rising trend among applicants to include a photograph in their resumes or applications, as well as a “self-evaluation section which deviates from the traditional Chinese practice and the popular American practice.” (Li 275). Within a single culture, the resume form can vary from industry to industry or profession to profession. So, where a one or two page resume is the standard for most non-academic job applicants, for those seeking a faculty appointment at a college or university, submitting a CV (“curriculum vitae”) of five pages or more is not at all unusual.

Understanding how resume writing has evolved to fit particular contexts can be useful when one is attempting to follow suggested best practices and “target the content” of a resume to fit a particular job description (Willmer 7). While resume templates can be a helpful place to start, they should not be used as a “one size fits all” solution for what is in fact a complex rhetorical problem. Using the language of a job description to identify and describe one’s qualifications is arguably becoming even more important as non-human readers increasingly perform a screening function in corporate HR departments and in web searches of online profiles (Amare, Manning 35-36). Consequently, current textbooks often advise “students, essentially, to copy job ad language directly into the résumé as a list of keywords and also to construe their résumé as a marketing tool, where no account is given of the difference between ethical and unethical marketing strategies” (Amare, Manning 36).

As important as it may be to ensure one’s resume gets a good look from prospective employers, representing one’s accomplishments and qualifications truthfully is arguably just as important. Research suggests, however, that applicants often tend to suppress or overlook ethical considerations about truthfulness in favor of “selling” their qualifications. In a survey of 357 students to which 211 responded, Amare and Manning discovered “there is widespread acceptance of an ethically questionable use of keywording, although how many students actually commit résumé fraud in any form is debatable.” Of the students who completed the survey, “[m]ore than 50% (n = 107) of the respondents stated that they would use keywords in their résumés to hit the robot’s eye, even if those keywords did not necessarily reflect their actual job skills and experience.” Amare and Manning go on to cite additional evidence suggesting the incidence of fraud may actually be much higher, including one 1996 study that found 95% of recent graduates were willing to engage in at least one factually false statement in order to get a job, and 41 per cent had already done so” (41).

Posting: Group 2

Commenting: Group 1

Categories: Resume Writing, Ethics

For this blog post, consider how ethical and contextual considerations should influence your self-representation in a resume or job application. You could take a position on what obligations an applicant owes to a prospective employer and to the other applicants against whom she may be competing. You could offer an argument about how resume writing conventions need to adapt to conditions in the current marketplace, or discuss how and why resume or job application conventions that are normal in one professional context–the performing arts, for example–might be inappropriate in another professional context–such as the law. You might also discuss issues relevant to U.S. citizens seeking jobs abroad, or to international applicants seeking jobs in the U.S. Consider the questions below (or similar ones you create) as starting places as you craft your post:

  • Given the current highly competitive job market, is it OK to “bend” or “stretch” the truth, if you know you will do a good job, even if you lack the requisite experience or credential?
  • Who is harmed in a situation where an applicant lies to get a job, but nevertheless turns out to be a great employee?
  • Is it dishonest for a woman to use her initials or a nickname and omit other markers of gender in order to avoid discrimination on account of her sex?
  • Do employers have a responsibility to verify an applicant’s qualifications or credentials before inviting her to interview, or should the applicant bear the sole responsibility for ensuring her resume accurately reflects her qualifications and experience?
  • Is it fair for U.S. employers to apply U.S. standards and conventions when evaluating international job applicants?
  • Is it fair for international employers to apply their own local standards and conventions when evaluating job applicants from the U.S.?
  • Should international corporations doing business in the U.S. be required to adhere to U.S. non-discrimination policies when hiring international workers who will be staffing offices, warehouses, or manufacturing facilities located in the U.S.? What about when they’re hiring U.S. workers who will be staffing offices, warehouses, or manufacturing facilities located outside the U.S.?

In your Blog #2 post, you need to take a focused position about the role ethics and context should play in your technical communication process rather than taking a scattered approach (which would happen if you simply wrote a few sentences in response to each question). Please carefully read and follow the guidelines and posting information for this blog. You can quote from additional articles you read as support for your position. You should include specific workplace examples to further support your argument. Make sure to document your sources.

Sources Cited

Amare, N., & Manning, A. (2009). WRITING FOR THE ROBOT: HOW EMPLOYER SEARCH TOOLS HAVE INFLUENCED RÉSUMÉ RHETORIC AND ETHICS. Business Communication Quarterly, 72(1), 35-60.

Davis, B. D., & Muir, C. (2003). Resume Writing and the Minority Student. Business Communication Quarterly, 66(3), 39-51.

Li, X. (2011). A Genre in the Making—A Grounded Theory Explanation of the Cultural Factors in Current Resume Writing in China. IEEE Transactions On Professional Communication, 54(3), 263-278. doi:10.1109/TPC.2011.2163354.

Willmer, D. (2009). Writing a Resume That Stands Out. Certification Magazine, 11(9), 7.


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