Important Message on Ethical Responsibilities as a JMU Marketing Graduate

With permission from Dr. Val Larsen, I am republishing an e-mail message sent to all of our marketing majors.

This message was originally sent on April 29, 2011 on behalf of the JMU Department of Marketing.  Two years later, Dr. Larsen is sharing it again with our current students.

I sense that many students, not just JMU Marketing Majors, would benefit from reading the contents of his letter.

Dear Marketing Majors,

We have had several reports this year of students accepting job offers, then reneging on their acceptance of the offer when given a subsequent offer by another firm.  This behavior is unethical.  Being true to one’s word is fundamental in business ethics.  Accepting a job and then reneging is not a victimless act.  It damages the firm that extended the offer, the recruiters from that firm who hired you, and your fellow JMU students.

After you accept the job, the firm will discontinue its search and inform other candidates that the position has been filled.  Restarting the search will cost it both money and time. The recruiters who hired you are injured because they will be less trusted by their superiors to exercise good judgment when making personnel decisions.  If still trusted enough to carry out the new search, they will face the burden of conducting a new search while still carrying out their regular duties.  Other JMU students will be damaged because the company will have a less favorable view of JMU graduates.  Indeed, some firms have stopped recruiting at JMU altogether after having a JMU graduate accept a job, then renege and accept another offer.

If your acceptance of a job is conditional, you should disclose the conditions when you accept the offer.  After accepting an offer, you should inform other employers who are actively considering you that you are no longer available.  Your acceptance of a job offer is the first major act of your business career.  If your first major act is unethical, you throw your integrity into question and mark a path for yourself that, if you continue on it, will result in your being a person others do not trust or respect.

Dr. Val Larsen
Interim Head, Department of Marketing

In a Bloomberg Businessweek guest post about reneging on an accepted job offer, Roxanne Hori, Associate Dean of Corporate Partnerships at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management, shares this advice:

It is a very small world.  Reputation is key.  Demonstrating the ability to commit goes a long way.  Demonstrating the inability to commit goes a longer way.  Be mindful of your professional brand today and it will pay dividends down the road.

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