Can deceiving someone out of a job opportunity be mortally sinful?

I’m a college student. A few weeks ago I decided to apply for a position in the university that they needed students for. The only thing was they only had three spots for guys, it’s very competitive and I have a good friend who I think would be more qualified than me for the job and he was thinking about applying for it too. The same person that encouraged me to apply for the job encouraged him to also. I knew that if I told him I was applying for it he would want to apply for it too, and I couldn’t let that happen cause I knew that there was a very good chance he would get it over me since he is more qualified. Since I had no idea how many guys were applying and he is more qualified than me I wanted as little competition as possible. I hid the fact that I was applying from him, but I freely told my other friends I was applying since they wouldn’t apply anyway and I saw my friend as a threat to my chances of getting the position. he ended up not applying after all and I was pretty happy about that.

A few days ago both of us were in a group setting with a bunch of my friends that were aware that I had applied, it came up in conversation and he found out(I wasn’t that worried though cause applications had closed and I already had an interview scheduled) Then later out of the blue he told me that he wished he had applied for it and that if he knew I had applied he would have

As soon as he said that I was overcome with guilt because I had strategically avoided telling him so that my chances of getting the job would stay good, when he would have probably applied

I didn’t start thinking it might be mortally sinful until recently but now I feel as though I was being selfish, greedy, and I was deceiving him and my scupulous self is telling me that maybe it was mortal too.

Is this mortal sin material?

Part of me says maybe but part of me also says that he had the freedom to apply anytime he wanted, I wasn’t stopping him I was just not telling him. Obviously I had deliberate consent, I’m kind of confused about full knowledge(while I did it deliberately I didn’t have consent or full knowledge to mortal sin) but I have no idea about grave matter.


The way I see it, you had no obligation to tell anyone you applied for a particular job, and you are not responsible for ensuring that your friend applies for any particular job. Your friend knew about the job opening, and decided not to apply, for whatever reason. Why would your applying or not be a deciding factor for him???

The situation would be different if he had asked you whether you were applying or not, and you had told him no - thereby lying, and thus sinning. But this is not the situation you described.

Indeed. I have no idea why your applying for a job is relevant to your friend.

Unless you actually lied, as opposed to merely not telling him about it. And I see no reason you should have told him or any of your friends for that matter. If you declined to tell him, and avoided outright lying, I don’t see any sin here, let alone grave matter for mortal sin.

(unless perhaps your friend is living in extreme poverty and can’t afford to feed himself, but I’d guess that’s not the case.)

Like the others I don’t understand why your applying would have prompted him to apply. He knew about the opportunity and opted not to go for it. How would his knowing you had also applied have changed things except to tell him that he would have more competition for the job than otherwise? Was the potential job so trivial to him, or is he so immature, that he would have imitated a peer just for the sake of doing the same thing? Or maybe his hope was to work with you? In any case it sounds like you had selfish motives but did not deprive him of any information he actually had a right to.

You have no obligation to tell anyone about a job that you applied for. Period.

Like others, I don’t understand this nonsense about: “I knew that if I told him I was applying for it he would want to apply for it too” and “he told me that he wished he had applied for it and that if he knew I had applied he would have”. Do you have any idea how odd and unhealthy this sounds?

From the Catechism of the Catholic Church:
“No one is bound to reveal the truth to someone who does not have the right to know it.”
He knew about the opening, he did not have the right to know you were applying, and you didn’t tell him something that was untrue, so this is not a case of deception. If he is, as you say, more qualified than you, he should be able to find another job. He is responsible for his own job search. Maybe he will benefit from this experience, learning that he should seize attractive job opportunities when they are available.

It’s certainly not a mortal sin.

I presume that the reason your applying would have caused him to apply is that it would have made him more likely to think himself qualified.

I would approach it this way: if you think that he needed the job more than you did, then perhaps you were guilty of not loving him as you love yourself. Which, it seems to me, would be venially sinful. But don’t take my word for it.

I guess what it boils down to for me is: would you have been hurt if he had done the same thing to you (assuming that the circumstances were reversed–as I said, I think that relative need is a factor here).

I have been very scrupulous about this sort of thing in the past. But that’s partly because my faults tend toward sloth rather than ambition and I’m afraid of failure, so I tend to talk myself out of applying for things anyway. My then-girlfriend, now wife, once made a joking remark to me that by applying for a certain job (which a married friend of ours with children had also applied for) I’d be taking food out of the mouths of our friend’s children. I didn’t apply for the job, and then she told me that she hadn’t been serious. (Ironically, she recently chose not to apply for another job which this same friend was applying for–and then it turned out that our friend had lost his current job, which made both of us glad she hadn’t applied for it).

Anyway, I think it’s good that you are thinking through the ethics of competition. It’s a nasty job market out there in most fields, and you will face these issues again, I’m sure. There are no easy answers, and I think you are probably being over-scrupulous. But if you look at everything in terms of loving your neighbor as yourself, you will not go far wrong.


In Revelation Ch 22:14-15, “Blessed are they who wash their robes so as to have the right to the tree of life and enter the city 9 through its gates. Outside are the dogs, the sorcerers, the unchaste, the murderers, the idol-worshipers, and all who love and practice deceit.

So, it’s possible that deceit can condemn you to Hell.

Do you really believe what you posted? Are you saying that the poster loves deception?

I can’t see how you did something wrong.

He had all the information that you did, and he decided not to apply.

Saying he would have applied if he’d known you had applied is irrelevant.

He should have applied if he was interested.

You were under no obligation to tell him you had applied.

I routinely make a point of not letting certain individuals know I’m chasing some particular contract or other :smiley:

Sarah x :slight_smile:

Find a new friend.

Who says, “I will only apply for a job my friend applies for so he won’t get it ?”

It sounds to me your friend is the one who is doing the deceiving.

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