Your Rights and Responsibilities When Looking for a Job

Job seekers wait to talk to employer
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When you are looking for a job, there are rights you wish you had and responsibilities you do have. You wish employers would, at the very least, be respectful of you as an applicant. That should start when they announce a job opening and continue throughout the hiring process until they make a final decision—even if in the end you don't get a job offer.

Unfortunately, while we should have certain rights as job seekers, many employers don't treat their applicants as well as they should.

You can only hope that those you come across do the right thing.

What you do have control over is how you conduct yourself during a job search. As a job seeker you have certain responsibilities and taking them seriously will make you a more successful candidate. Here are your rights and responsibilities when looking for a job.

You Have the Right to:

An Honest Job Announcement

A job announcement should completely and accurately describe the available position. It should include details about job duties especially when they differ from what one might expect to do in that occupation. The employer should state the hours you will be expected to work if they vary from what is considered normal for that field.

Clearly Stated Job Requirements

If the employer has specific requirements that are not flexible, they should state that clearly. Using language like "must," "no exceptions" and "do not apply unless you meet this requirement" leaves little room for misunderstandings.

If the employer is flexible about certain requirements, they can indicate that by using words like "preferred."

Notification That You Didn't Get the Job

The employer should notify you when they have made a hiring decision. This includes letting you know if a decision is being delayed. In this case they should let you know if you are still in the running.

Respect for Your Time

Everyone's time is valuable including yours. The interviewer shouldn't keep you waiting for your appointment.

An Offer That Doesn't Get Rescinded

Sometimes an employer will hire a job candidate only to take back the offer before the new hire even starts. It's hard when you get turned down for a job in the first place, but even more heartbreaking to have an offer rescinded. The employer should make sure they can, in fact, hire someone before they let the candidate know.

You are Responsible for:

Not Applying for a Job Unless You Meet the Requirements

When you look at a job announcement notice which requirements are a must and which are preferred. Feel free to apply for a job if you don't meet all the preferred requirements, but if the employer says "don't apply unless you have this requirement" then take them at their word and look elsewhere. If the announcement doesn't indicate whether a requirement is a must or just preferred, use your judgement about whether or not to apply.

Telling the Truth on Your Resume, Application and Interview

Don't lie on your resume or during any part of the application process. Lies have a way of catching up with you. If you get hired under false pretenses and the truth is later revealed there is a good chance your boss will fire you.

This indiscretion can haunt your reputation for years to come.

Showing Up On Time for Your Interview

When you arrive for an interview late, it not only makes you look bad, it disrupts other people's schedules. The interviewer will be stuck waiting for you to show up ... unless he or she cancels your appointment altogether. Your tardiness will also affect candidates whose interviews are scheduled after yours. Plan to arrive at the building where your interview is to take place at least a half hour early (don't enter until about 15 minutes prior to your appointment). Account for delays such as getting lost or other transportation problems.

Being Respectful to the Receptionist or Secretary

If you don't think you should be polite to the person who greets you when you arrive for an interview simply because it's the right thing to do, here is another important reason.

Receptionists and secretaries are their employers' gatekeepers. When you call the office to follow up after your interview you want the person who can put your call through (or not) on your side. In addition, the receptionist or secretary will more than likely tell his or her boss about your behavior.

Always Letting the Employer Know If You Decide to Reject an Offer

As soon as you decide you are going to reject a job offer, let the employer know. Just as you would want to know you didn't get hired so you can keep looking for a job, they need to know so they can extend an offer to another candidate.