Ethics and Protocols

The job search process can involve numerous difficult and sometimes ambiguous situations that leave people wondering about the proper procedure. There are unwritten rules and protocol that can be crucial to a job searcher who is trying to land a job and stay out of some potentially "sticky" situations. 

Remember, besides representing yourself, you are representing the University of Virginia and the other UVA students who are also seeking employment. If you have specific questions, please stop by the UVA Career Center and make an appointment with a career counselor.

Is it okay to embellish my resume?

Everything on your resume should be factual. If you falsify something on your resume, sooner or later you'll get caught. Even if you are offered a position and/or accepted it, an employer can withdraw that offer if they learned you falsified information on your application.

How important is the employer's application form? Do I really need to fill it out?

Yes. If you do not submit the employer application, you will not likely be considered for an interview.

What if I can't attend my interview?

Contact the employer as soon as you realize you won't be able to attend. Disclose only as much information as you feel comfortable sharing. Try to reschedule if possible, and follow up with a brief note of apology if you are unable to reschedule.

Should I send a thank you note?

Yes! Thank you notes are a must in the job search process, and should be sent 2-3 days and no longer than a week after the interview. However, send the letter even if you lose track of time. A late thank-you note is better than no note at all. Thank you notes can be handwritten, typed, or e-mailed - it's a personal preference. 

When should I follow up with an employer after an interview?

If the employer has not given you a specific time frame, two weeks is an appropriate amount of time to wait before calling the employer. If a specific time has been communicated, wait until that time has passed before you try to contact the employer. Very often the screening process may take longer than predicted.

When can I ask about money?

The employer should first mention the topic of salary. You will be in the strongest position as a candidate if you can put off the discussion about salary as long as possible. Salary discussions do not usually take place in the first meeting. Also make sure to do your homework before the topic comes up. 

I don't want the job. Should I take the second interview just in case?

If you are asked back for a second interview, and you know you're definitely not interested in the employer, let the employer know. This enables the employer to extend an invitation to another qualified candidate.

How much time do I have before I accept/decline a job offer?

The first step is to acknowledge the receipt of the offer, thanking the employer for his/her interest and showing an understanding of the terms stated. It is appropriate to ask the employer how much additional time you might have to consider your options. However, the employer is not obligated to grant you any extended time for making a decision.

I already accepted an offer. Can I back out?

When an employer extends an offer, he/she invests a great deal of time, effort and resources. Once you accept the offer, you make an ethical contract with the employer. You should stick to that decision and notify any other employers who are waiting to hear from you.