Ethics of applying for a job as a test balloon

Welcome to the newly redesigned Science Careers Forum. Please bookmark this site now for future reference. If you've previously posted to the forum, your current username and password will remain the same in the new system. If you've never posted or are new to the forum, you will need to create a new account.

The new forum is designed with some features to improve the user experience. Upgrades include:
- easy-to-read, threaded discussions
- ability to follow discussions and receive notifications of updates
- private messaging to other SC Forum members
- fully searchable database of posts
- ability to quote in your response
- basic HTML formatting available

Moderator: Dave Jensen
Advisors:   Ana, PG, Rich Lemert, Dick Woodward, Dave Walker
Meet the Moderator/Advisors

Ethics of applying for a job as a test balloon

Postby Abby » Mon Jan 15, 2018 1:32 pm

What are the ethics of applying for a job as a test balloon? I’ve been in my current laboratory based scientific position for six years and received one promotion with a plan for another in a year or two.

But I find myself nervous about what would happen if I had to find a new job since the techniques I use are pretty narrow. So, when a reasonable job vacancy came up locally that is parallel to my field but somewhat different, it piqued my interest. I match maybe 60-70% of the job description and I think I could talk through how I could learn the rest of it fairly readily. But I don’t want to leave my current job. So, how ethical is it to apply for a job basically as a chance to update my resume and as an ego boost?
Posts: 169
Joined: Tue Jan 10, 2012 11:28 pm

Re: Ethics of applying for a job as a test balloon

Postby D.X. » Mon Jan 15, 2018 3:01 pm

Hi Abby,

You are what i would call a passive candidate with low readiness for change. You seem curious enough to apply so i say... Go for it. You are comfortable now so that puts you in a spot to 1. Upday your resume and 2. Test the waters.

As noted in another tread - there is a level of confidence you have by alreafy knowing that you are employed and appear happy. If you leverage that well, it could be to you advantage. Its a good time go test the waters and see what else is there, i challenge that you should do so with an idea to keep an open mind that you may find sonething you like.

A couple risks to be attentive to. First, if you are called for an interview, dont let your confidence of your current employment situation manifest to arrogance.

Second, because you are comforatble in your current role, you could be labelled as someone who would not take the role, i e your readiness fir change shich you said is basically nil can be perceived and will work against you.

So real think about how ready you are to face change and how open minded you are. Its aleays good to run through 1 or 2 interviews per year as your readiness for change increases over time - good to stay on edge application and interview wise.

Also, never get too comfortable in a current role, watch the handwritting on the wall always.
Finally, if you really think your readiness is absolutely nil and you wouldnt taje the job if offerred even if you liked the new team and job, dont bother applying..thats not ethical I're wasting peoples time.


Posts: 1216
Joined: Tue Jan 10, 2012 11:29 pm

Re: Ethics of applying for a job as a test balloon

Postby PG » Thu Jan 18, 2018 9:15 am

As I read the original post I Think that Dx last paragraph is important. Dont apply for positions unless you are actually willing to take the job. If you dont waht the job even if everything looks good ie the job description is what was advertised, you like the team and Company and there is a competitive offer for salary and other parameters.

In that case you are wasting the time of yourself, the Company that you are applying to and they might not treat some of their other candidates in the same way if you are the lead candidate. Not only would I say that this is unethical but there is also a risk that this Company and people actively involved in this recruitment wouldnt consider you as an attractive candidate at a future occasion. Biotech/pharma is a small World and you cant afford to burn bridges unless it really cant be avoided.
Posts: 1032
Joined: Tue Jan 10, 2012 11:28 pm

Re: Ethics of applying for a job as a test balloon

Postby RSD » Fri Jan 19, 2018 5:18 pm

To continue the conversation, what alternatives dose anyone recommend for gauging one's value in the job market? How does an individual know if they are fairly valued and compensated without consulting the market (by applying and interviewing) to see how others value their skillset? This may be more relevant for people who have been with one company or in one position for a long time, and haven't tested the market in 5+ years.
Posts: 64
Joined: Tue Nov 13, 2012 7:56 pm

Re: Ethics of applying for a job as a test balloon

Postby D.X. » Sun Jan 21, 2018 8:36 am


As you refer to folks who are already tenured - one good way is to access your network of ex-colleagues. This is one key way I get some data here. Naturally overtime there will be turn over in your company and your trusted colleagues or even you move on to the next company, then you start keeping in touch with your dear ex-colleagues, some who do in fact become friends. So that's one way.

Another is your recruiter network - they can give you an assessment and insight. Of course provided you have a receuiter network.

And then there is just your network in general. Having all of the above, does keep you patched in - if you are connected well you'll get to know your market and understand even down to company level variances so ABC biotech verse 123 pharma.

There are websites where employers feed info and reviews - i.e. Glassdoor but not sure if accuracy there and reviews tend to be negative.

And some job posts may even have a salary range - but defer to my two points above -

Of course as you noted applying for jobs does help in some regards.

In terms of in-company value - your annual reviews and feedback from colleagues help in that regards - not compensation related but more to your skills and team player attitude as well as contribution.


Posts: 1216
Joined: Tue Jan 10, 2012 11:29 pm

Re: Ethics of applying for a job as a test balloon

Postby PG » Sun Jan 21, 2018 3:50 pm

As DX mentions there are two possible questions regarding market value.

Within Company value and job market value. Within company value hopefully comes from performance Reviews and potentially by discussing with previous collegues or your manager. Even if you dont know what salary your collegues have you can look at the development of your own compensation. Is it evolving in a way that seems reasonable with respect to your job duties?

As for job market value, if you are really not interested in accepting another position even if you get a good offer why do you need to know? However, when you have a job that you are happy in you can afford to be picky ie only look for opportunities that really has the potential of offering something new and special. If you dont get them due to competition or something else you dont need to care that much since you dont need to move.
Posts: 1032
Joined: Tue Jan 10, 2012 11:28 pm

Return to Science Careers Forum

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Bill L. and 21 guests