When you’re in the market for a new job, the first steps in the process we usually think of are updating our resume and LinkedIn profile, what job board sites we’ll target, and preparing for interviews that we’ll hopefully be on soon. These are all necessary and important things to consider. But I think all too often we place so much importance on preparing for the key aspects of job searching that sometimes we forget about a major influence on getting that new job – etiquette.

Being in the recruiting industry, and a former recruiter myself, I can tell you that etiquette is something that we wished more people would focus on. From little things like addressing someone formally and professionally to following up after an email or phone call from a hiring manager or recruiter in a timely manner. These little things add up and can make the difference between you being offered the job, and someone else.

Here are seven job searching etiquette tips to help you land your next job.

  1. Be polite. First and foremost, always be polite. I know this seems like a no-brainer, but you would be surprised at how many times I’ve interviewed someone who, frankly, isn’t that nice. I know we all have differing levels of enthusiasm, but under no circumstances should you not be polite to the person you’re interviewing with. “Please,” “thank you,” and “Sir” and “Ma’am” should be part of your vocabulary and used throughout the job interview process.
  2. Respond to emails and voicemails promptly. If you are actively looking for a job, you should be checking your emails and voicemails frequently. If it takes you several days to get back to a recruiter or hiring manager with the excuse that you were camping for several days, that won’t reflect well on you. You need to make employers who are interested in you a priority.
  3. Do your research. You want to go into a job interview knowledgeable on the company’s mission, vision, values and anything else you can find. You want that employer to know that you’ve done a bit of stalking. It’s not creepy, I promise you. They want to know that you are interested in them and you took the time to get to know what they’re all about. Trust me, they’re doing the same thing of you – it’s all part of the process. Both parties want to know whether this is a good match.
  4. Dress for success. You want to dress as professional as possible. This means power suits, jackets, ties – whatever you can find that emanates the utmost professionalism is what you should wear to your interviews. An interview is not the time to take fashion risks or try out a new trendy outfit. (For more advice on what to wear, and what not to wear, read my post Presentation is Everything – 8 Tips to Dress for Your Successful Job Interview.)
  5. Listen. I probably should have listed this first because this is one of the biggest conversational faux pas that people make. Being a good conversationalist requires very little talking. One of my favorite quotes is by Stephen R. Covey in his book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change. He said, “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” You gain so much understanding when you listen to understand. Not only will it make a positive difference with the people you interview with, but it will also change most of your relationships for the better. Trust me.
  6. Turn off electronics. Whether you’re interviewing over the phone or in person, make sure all electronic devices are turned off. Turning off electronics is especially important in-person. But even if you are interviewing over the phone, there should be no background noises including phones, televisions, or anything else for that matter.
  7. Send thank you email or letter. Sending a thank you note after talking to someone at a job fair or interview has been a long-standing custom, and has not changed. When I was recruiting, I was always surprised at how many times someone did not send me a thank you note after interviewing. With technology and the ability to obtain someone’s email address fairly easily on either LinkedIn or their company website, there’s no excuse. It’s also a good idea to ask someone for their business card after interviewing or meeting them at a job fair so that you have all their contact information. Additionally, it is important to respond politely and thank them even if you get that dreaded thanks-but-no-thanks email. Another job opportunity could arise with the same company that you may be a fit for. You never want to burn a bridge.

As you can see with these seven tips, it doesn’t take much to keep up on your job searching etiquette. But it could cost you a job if you don’t.

Happy job searching! And “thank you” for reading my post.

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