Playing Fair: Your Rights and Responsibilities as a Job Seeker

  • Adapted from "Playing Fair—Your Rights and Responsibilities as a Job Seeker" from the National Association of Colleges and Employers Principles for Professional Conduct Committee; © 2006

    Choosing and attaining meaningful post-graduation employment is an important challenge for college students.

    To aid this process, the Career and Professional Development Center and employers develop connections and programs—such as on-campus recruiting, resume referral services, and job fairs—in which you and your colleagues can actively participate. In order for this process to be successful, everyone involved must work together. NACE’s (National Association of Colleges and Employers) Principles for Professional Conduct provide guidelines for the process in order to guarantee:

    • that students can openly, freely, and objectively select employment opportunities, making these choices based on their assessment of the best use of their abilities, their personal goals, and other pertinent facts;
    • a recruitment process that is fair and equitable to students and employers alike;
    • support for informed and responsible decision making by students.

    Here’s What You Can Reasonably Expect From Your Career Center... 

    1. Confidentiality
      Career staffs are expected to exercise sound judgment and fairness in maintaining the confidentiality of student information regardless of the source, including written records, reports, and computer databases. Disclosure of student information outside the college/university should only be made with your prior consent unless health and safety considerations necessitate the distribution of such information.
    2. Freedom of choice
      You’re entitled to be assisted by the career staff in developing a career plan and making career decisions without having staff members’ biases or personal values imposed upon you.
    3. Access to all services and events
      Career centers may charge students for registering or taking part in certain services or events. Such fees should be sufficiently nominal so as not to hinder you from participating.
    4. Access to career information
      All students, regardless of personal or educational background, should be provided by career staffs with equal and full access to information on career opportunities and types of employing organizations. Career staffs are also expected to inform you how and where to obtain information which may influence your decision about an employing organization.
    5. Testing information
      Career staffs should inform you of the availability of testing, the purpose of the tests, and the disclosure policies regarding test results.

    ...And From Employers 

    1. Confidentiality
      Employers are expected to maintain the confidentiality of student information, regardless of the source, including personal knowledge, written records/reports, and computer databases. An employer shouldn’t disclose information about you to another organization without your prior written consent, unless necessitated by health and/or safety considerations.
    2. Accurate information
      Employers are expected to provide accurate information about their organizations and employment opportunities. This includes, but is not limited to, positions available, responsibilities, career advancement opportunities, and benefits.
    3. Freedom from undue pressure
      Employers are expected to provide you with a reasonable amount of time to make a decision about accepting an employment offer.

      They are also expected to provide you with a reasonable process for making your decision. An unreasonable process, for example, is one in which the student is told that the offer is good for a set amount of time; unbeknownst to the student, the same offer has been made to others—and the student who accepts first gets the job.

      In addition, it is improper for employers to pressure you to revoke your acceptance of another job offer.
    4. Timely communication
      Employers are expected to inform you of your status in the hiring process and communicate hiring decisions within the agreed-upon timeframe.
    5. Fair treatment
      If an employer is required by changing conditions to revoke a job offer that you’ve accepted, you’re entitled to a fair and equitable course of action. That can include, but is not limited to, financial assistance and outplacement service.
    6. Testing information
      Employers should inform you in advance of any testing, the purpose of the tests, and their policies regarding disclosure of test results.
    7. Nondiscrimination
      Employers are expected to avoid discrimination in their recruitment activities and to follow equal employment opportunity and affirmative action principles.

    What’s Your Part in This? 

    1. Provide accurate information about your academic work and records, including courses taken, grades, positions held, and duties performed.
      You can, however, refuse to provide an employer with specific information about any job offers you may have received from other employers. You do not have to name the organizations that have made you offers, nor do you have to provide specific information about what salaries you’ve discussed with those organizations. Instead, you can give broad responses to such questions, naming types of employers—"I’ve interviewed with employers in the retail industry"—and offering salary ranges rather than specific dollar amounts—"The salary offers I’ve received have been in the $30,000 to $35,000 range." Incidentally, it’s in your best interest to research salaries and to let employers know that you have done so.
    2. Interview genuinely
      That means interviewing only with employers you are sincerely interested in working for and whose eligibility requirements you meet. "Practice" interviewing is misleading to employers—wasting both their time and money—and prevents sincerely interested candidates from using those interview slots.
    3. Adhere to schedules
      Appear for all interviews, on campus and elsewhere, unless unforeseeable events prevent you from doing so. If you can’t make the interview because of an unforeseeable event, notify your career center or the employer at the earliest possible moment.
    4. Don’t keep employers hanging
      Communicate your acceptance or refusal of a job offer to employers as promptly as possible so they can notify other candidates that they are still being considered or that the position is filled.
    5. Accept a job offer in good faith
      When you an accept an offer, you should have every intention of honoring that commitment. Accepting an offer only as a precautionary measure is misleading to the employer and may restrict opportunities for others who are genuinely interested in that employer.
    6. Withdraw from recruiting when your job search is completed
      If you accept an offer or decide that full-time graduate or professional studies are for you, notify your career center and withdraw from the on-campus recruiting process immediately. Let employers that are actively considering you for a job know that you are now out of the running.

      By informing everyone that you’ve got a job or are headed to graduate school, you not only get the chance to brag but also to help your friends who are trying to get on interview schedules or who are being considered for positions.
    7. Claim fair reimbursement If an employer has agreed to reimburse you for expenses you incur in its recruitment process, your request should be only for reasonable and legitimate expenses.
    8. Obtain the career information you need to make an informed choice about your future It’s up to you to acquire the information about career opportunities, organizations, and any other information that might influence your decisions about an employing organization.
    9. Any information you post on the Internet is considered public information
      This includes your personal website, a blog, or personal information posted on a social networking site. Of course, any public information could be used to evaluate your suitability for employment. It’s best to review a site’s privacy policy before publishing any personal information. Make sure you know who will have access to your information (and under what circumstances) and whether you can remove information or photos at a later date.