by Randall S. Hansen, Ph.D.
Being courteous and polite matters in job-hunting, thus we offer these 10 job-hunting etiquette tips, which give job-seekers an edge when job-hunting.
While much focus in job-hunting is placed on networking techniques, resume-writing, and interview preparation — and rightly so — one small, but very important aspect of successful job-seekers is often overlooked.
What is it that’s so often overlooked by job-seekers and career experts alike? It’s the simple rules of proper job-seeker behavior — job-seeker manners.
This article helps fill that void with 10 tips for job-hunting etiquette. Etiquette sometimes gets a bad rap or is overlooked perhaps because the term seems antiquated. But make no mistake, courteous job-seekers stand above those job-seekers without good manners.
So, how can you make a great impression on your next job-search? Easy! Simply incorporate these etiquette tips the next time you are seeking a new job.
1. Be polite. Whether it’s a networking event, job fair, or other career-related event, showcase your inner strengths by patiently waiting your turn to speak with recruiters or hiring managers, properly shake hands (dry, firm, one-handed shake), and address the each person by his or her title (Dr., Ms., Mr.) and last name (unless the event is extremely informal — then you can use first names). There are times in job-hunting in which assertiveness is important (to demonstrate your interest in the job), but there is no excuse for not being polite.
2. Dress for the occasion. For job-search events in most professions, the suit is the expected attire — and especially for the job interview. You can do your research and determine the level of attire you need, but if you can’t, then it’s always much better to dress above than dress below. [Read more in this article on Quintessential Careers: When Job-Hunting: Dress for Success.]
3. Be punctual. One of the biggest etiquette mistakes a job-seeker can make is arriving late. Whether you’re simply going cross town or driving a great distance, always know the route you’re going to take, take a practice run (if possible), and build in extra time for getting lost, street closures, and accidents. Finally, don’t overstay your welcome — even if your return flight is hours away; when the interviews are done, say your thank-yous and leave.
4. Learn to listen. While a great deal of time is spent helping job-seekers prepare great job-search related communication tools — elevator speeches and interview responses — the art of listening is often overlooked. Ignoring what a recruiter or a network contact is saying so that you can simply throw in another plug for yourself is simply rude.
5. Be knowledgeable. Appearing ignorant — or disinterested — about a prospective employer is a major lapse in job-search etiquette. By showcasing your knowledge of the employer (and even the interviewer), you demonstrate how serious you are about the opportunity while also gaining serious etiquette points. Preparation is a key skill to learn.
6. Appear upbeat. Even if you are having a bad day, do not let outside circumstances affect your demeanor in a job-search situation. A positive attitude — which includes things like enthusiasm, smiling, good posture, and strong eye contact — can go a long way to making a lasting and positive impression. People want to work with happy, friendly people.
7. Communicate well. While most job-seekers have learned how to communicate in face-to-face situations, there is often quite a bit of room for improvement in phone and email communications — and because more of the job-search has moved into these non-personal methods, you should learn rules of phone and email etiquette. Regardless of the venue, good communication is essential to job-search success.
8. Avoid interruptions. Before heading into a job-search event, turn off cell phones, PDAs, pagers, etc. At a minimum, the device may distract both you and the person you’re speaking with, but some people are also annoyed by this breach of etiquette. And certainly, never, ever interrupt someone so you can answer your device unless you know it’s an emergency. (And, in fact, never interrupt anyone for any reason.)
9. Eat and drink well. No, this tip does not refer to pre-interview meals, but to understanding and using simple table manners — which especially come into play when the interview process spills over to include one or more meals. And besides knowing which fork to use and which water glass is yours, remember not to order the messiest nor most expensive item on the menu — and avoid alcohol consumption.
10. Always show appreciation. Most studies continue to show that a fairly sizable number of job-seekers do not acknowledge and thank the people they meet in networking events, job fairs, or even job interviews. The simple act of writing a short thank-you note to each person you meet in your job-search can literally be the deciding factor in you obtaining an interview — or better, receiving the job offer. [Read more in this article on Quintessential Careers: FAQs About Thank You Letters.]
Final Thoughts on Job-Hunting Etiquette
Well-mannered job-seekers gain the edge in job-hunting because proper job-hunting etiquette wins the hearts and minds of hiring managers — especially compared with job-seekers who either rude or simply unaware. By following these 10 tips for job-hunting etiquette, you will be on your way to giving yourself that extra edge that may help you land that job of your dreams.
Other key job-search etiquette tools and articles:
Questions about some of the terminology used in this article? Get more information (definitions and links) on key college, career, and job-search terms by going to our Job-Seeker’s Glossary of Job-Hunting Terms.
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