Managing Impressions is ethical or unethical

Managing impressions is wrong for both ethical and practical reasons.

First, managing impressions is just another name for lying. Don’t we have a responsibility, both to ourselves and to others, to present ourselves as we really are? The Australian philosopher Toy Coady wrote, Dishonesty has always been perceived in our culture, and in all cultures but the most bizarre, as a central human vice. If you want to know whether telling a lie on a particular occasion is justifiable you must try to imagine what would happen if everyone lie. Surely you would agree that a world in no one lies is preferable to one in which lying is common, because in such a world we could never trust anyone Thus, we should try to present the truth as best as we an. Impression management goes against this virtue.

Practically peaking, impression management generally backfires in the long run. Once we start to distort the facts where do we stop? When George O’Leary was hired as Notre Dame’s foot ball coach he said on his resume that 30 years before he had obtained a degree from Stony Brook University that he never earned. Obviously, this information was unimportant to his football accomplishments, and ironically he had written it on his resume 20 years earlier when hired for a job at Syracuse University; he had simply never corrected the inaccuracies. But when truth came out, O’Leary was finished.

At Indiana University Kelley School of business the code of ethics instructs students to provide only truthful information on their resumes and obligates them to be honest in interviews.

People are most satisfied with their jobs when their values match the culture of the organizations. If either side misrepresents itself in the interview process than odds are people won’t fit the organizations they choose. What is the benefit in this?

This does not imply that a person should not put his or her best foot forward. But that means exhibiting qualities that are good no matter the context being friendly being positive and self confident being qualified and competent while still being honest.

Everybody fudges to some degree in the process of applying for a job If you really told the interviewer what your greatest weakness or worst mistake was, you would never get red. What if you answered, I find it hard to get up in the morning and get to work?

These sorts of white lies are expected and act as a kind of social lubricant in society. If we really knew what people where thinking, we’d go crazy. Moreover, you can quote all the philosophy you want, but sometimes it’s necessary to lie. You mean you wouldn’t lie to save the life of your family? It’s naïve to think we can live in a world without lying.

Sometimes a bit of deception is necessary to get a job. A gay applicant who was rejected from a job he really wanted because he told the interviewer he had written two articles for gay magazines. What if he had told the interviewer a little lie? What harm really have been done? At least he would have a job.

As another example, when an interviewer asks you what you earned in your previous job, that information will be used against you, to pay you a salary lower than you deserve. Is it wrong to boost your salary a bit? Or would it be better to disclose your actual salary and be taken advantage of?

The same goes for complimenting interviewers or agreeing with their opinions, ad so forth. If an interviewer tells you, we believe in community involvement you’re supposed to tell the interviewers that you have never volunteered of anything?

Of course one can go too far. We are not advocating that people totally fabricate their backgrounds. What we are talking about here is a reasonable amount of enhancement. If we can help ourselves without doing any real harm, then impression management is not the same as lying and actually is something we should teach others.