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Thread: Ethics of favors: working your connections or political patronage?

  1. #1
    Cyburbian
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    Ethics of favors: working your connections or political patronage?

    When does accepting a favor when job-hunting become unethical?

    I have been enthusiastically offered assistance procuring a particular job through someone's political connections. I accepted the help, but now I am feeling queasy. I never imagined I would be in a postion to receive politcal partonage, but here I am. Is this different from making the "connections" every student is advised to cultivate? I am qualified for the job, and it isn't cush or high-paying, but I may get an unfair advantage over other applicants. Or, it could backfire. . . the person in charge of hiring might be pissed off by the interference.

    When does the support of someone you know cross the line into unethical behavior?

  2. #2
    NIMBY asshatterer Plus Richmond Jake's avatar
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    If you are a highly qualified candidate for the position, I don't think it should be a problem. If you're not, yikes, good luck. (I've had two people forced on me before. One of them worked out fine, the other? Well, let's just say...it didn't work).
    RJ is the KING of . The One

  3. #3
    Cyburbian Jess's avatar
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    Just be cautious with others who are already there-ahead of you. You may encounter frictions or some sort of professional jealousy. Since you are qualified, just do your job righteously. Prove to them you are in a position to handle the job acordingly. GOOD LUCK.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian
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    Thanks for the feedback. I talked to my friend and told her my misgivings, I want to stand on my merits, etc. . . she reassured me that this would be a subtle intervention on my behalf, and not shoving my resume down someone's throat. I feel a little better about it.

    But my question is, still, is it wrong? Is it wrong, but "the way the world works"? Is it a grey area? Is an obvious favor different only in a matter of degree from the privilidges people gain over a lifetime of building connections? Or does it go too far?

    RJ, you have had people forced on you. Did you accept it as a political neccessity? Being forced to hire an unqualified person sucks! And even if they are qualified, did you resent the interference? Did taking them get you political favors in return?

  5. #5
    Cyburbian Jeff's avatar
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    if you need the job take it, and be thankful you have been given the opportunity. there is nothing wrong with getting hooked up every once in a while.

    This is the real world, not college. time to stop thinking about the other guy and your unfair advantage, and take what you can get.

  6. #6
    NIMBY asshatterer Plus Richmond Jake's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Future Planning Diva View post
    ....RJ, you have had people forced on you. Did you accept it as a political neccessity? Being forced to hire an unqualified person sucks! And even if they are qualified, did you resent the interference? Did taking them get you political favors in return?
    1. Yes. That's the way it is in government.
    2. Not really. If the new hire had screwed up, I wouldn't let anybody forget why the person was hired and who was responsible.
    3. Yes. I was hailed as the next messiah for several months.
    RJ is the KING of . The One

  7. #7
    Super Moderator luckless pedestrian's avatar
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    hey, I agree with Jeff - this is the way it works - there's a lot of good, smart, educated planners out there so sometimes the only way to get into the door is to have a friend open it up for you in order to segregate you from the others

    the misgivings you are having elude to the possiblity that even references are political and that's not the case

    now, if your friend is the type that will want a payback later, then you may want to re-think the favor

    when I decided to leave the private sector and go public, the only way I could break in was through some connecitons I had made in the private sector - then you are on your own of course and have to prove yourself to keep your position and create references to let you move up in the ladder

    and yeah, my friends in city planning usually have one appointment of some friend of the Mayor that has no background and sometimes no interest in planning but your case sounds like you are qualified but need to edge out the competition and there's nothing wrong with that

    good luck, btw!

  8. #8

    Dear Future Planning Diva:

    I totally agree with your reservations on whether the entire process was ethical or not. It's not a matter of getting over your conscience for the sake of employment. Rather, I believe it should play a role throughout your job search among other things.

    If you feel at all uncomfortable with the idea that 'a friend of a friend of yours' pulled some strings, you may want to take some control of the situation back into your own hands:
    I.) Speak with the parties concerned.
    - Your friend. You were right to speak with your friend about your concerns, and it seems that the job offer may not be as nepotistic as first thought. This will also help to avoid any future awkward situations as this, seeing that your friends will know what works for you and what doesn't.
    - Speak with the person doing the hiring directly. Tell them that you do accept the job with the strong belief that you are fully qualified for the position. Yet, in spite of your association with said-person, you want to be assured that you were offered the position solely based on your proven abilities and interview.

    II.)
    - I am sure the person responsible for hiring will appreciate your straightforwardness and strong principles.
    - Just be happy that you managed to live up to yourself and ideals. Just a step closer to being a real planning diva.

    All the best.

  9. #9
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by Gkorstad Staegenheim View post
    - Speak with the person doing the hiring directly. Tell them that you do accept the job with the strong belief that you are fully qualified for the position. Yet, in spite of your association with said-person, you want to be assured that you were offered the position solely based on your proven abilities and interview.
    Doesn't this risk putting the hiring person in an embarassing postion? Since I don't know what form this intervention took, I can't really know how decisive it was.

    In fact, I am going in for an interview on Monday, and I have been wondering if this "reccommendation" would be mentioned. I don't think I will 'go there' if my interviewer doesn't. However, if he brings it up, I plan to treat it as a vote of confidence from my former boss (my friend with the connections is a former boss), and bring the discussion back to my experience and qualifications.

  10. #10
    Originally, I was under the impression that you were already offered the job, and that you felt it was significantly influenced by political patronage.

    But as it is now:
    You do not know exactly how much your friend intervened on your behalf. Your friend has suggested that it was a simple recommendation (which I think is fair enough). As long as no political connection is 'played up' during the process it sounds good already.

    In the case that you are uncomfortable as to exactly what went on, then I would suggest that you make it a point somewhere that: You understand and respect that your candidacy for the position is / should be solely based on merit (i.e. your potential, proven skills, abilities, and accomplishments).

    Obviously the above is perhaps best stated in a less obtrusive form. I'm just trying to treat this in a straightforward manner, which usually less complicates things. Context is important, there's no need to make anybody feel uncomfortable. You can be tactful, but at the same time don't be afraid to do things with a clear conscience and to just reassure your own conscience.

    I hope this helps somehow.

  11. #11

    Ethical, Professional, Responsible, and Tactful: I believe it's possible

    If it's still bothering you a bit, here are just some suggestions.

    In terms of appropriateness of situation and phrasing of words, a good time may be either in the beginning or end of interview where you say, in some form or other: "Thank you for taking the time to consider me for this position as ________ for your _________ department. I appreciate your entire interview process and hope that based solely on my qualifications and experience you will find that I am fully qualified for this position."

    You could also add somewhere, if the hirer brings up your friend: "In spite of / Regardless of what (friend) may have mentioned...".

    This is probably what you want to get at: "I have good faith that all applicants will be evaluated solely based on their merit and suitability for this job".

    And finally, don't stress out about this too much. If something bothers you, just say so. Walk in there with mutual respect, and walk out of there with mutual respect. I'm sure you will have a great interview!

    All the best!

  12. #12
    Cyburbian
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    Thank you, everyone, for all the guidance. I had an interview this morning, and was hired on the spot.

    I have reason to believe that strings were not actually pulled (timing was too close), though I could be wrong about that. In any case, I feel that I performed very well during the interview, and I know that I'm right for this job.

    This whole little tempest has given me a lot of food for thought. In a world where there is lots of competition for good jobs, everyone starting out in a field wants the chance to get in the door and prove their worth. Sometimes it is a personal connection that opens that door.

    I still think that an ideal world won't function that way, but for now I'm going to concentrate on becoming the fine planner I know I can be.

  13. #13
    NIMBY asshatterer Plus Richmond Jake's avatar
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    Congrats, FPD. Why to go!

  14. #14
    Congratulations on a successful interview FPD, and I do hope it was because the hirer saw your real potential, because you do sound like you are qualified!

    There's no better planner than an ethically-sensitive one, and I respect that!

    The way government works, the way government doesn't work...
    The way the world works, the way the world doesn't work...
    The world is what we make it.


    Yeah, it may sound a bit corny, but it's true isn't it?
    Here's some coffee

  15. #15
    Cyburbian donk's avatar
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    Congrats.

    Use favors to get interviews, use your skills and knowledge to get teh job.

    My first real job was gotten this way. A local politician asked if I had sent in a resume, I said yes, I got a call shortly thereafter for an interview, but would not have gotten the job if I did not deserve it.
    Too lazy to beat myself up for being to lazy to beat myself up for being too lazy to... well you get the point....

  16. #16
    Cyburbian Jess's avatar
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    Congrats!!

    Congrats FP Diva! I'ts just a first step. Just go on. Keep up the good job. Good luck!

  17. #17
    Super Moderator luckless pedestrian's avatar
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    Congratulations!!!!


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