From the initial phone call about a job opportunity all the way to the point when you accept the offer, social etiquette is essential. Missteps along the way, even seemingly benign ones, have the potential to knock you out of the running.
Use these seven tips as a "refresher course" to ensure you are on top of your game when it comes to being perceived as someone with manners and grace.
- Find a quiet place. During phone screens, don't be afraid to ask if you can call back in a few minutes if you are in a noisy place. You want the conversation to be easy for both parties. Background noise and the hollow sounds that often are typical of speakerphone or Bluetooth calls can be annoying. If you're on a cell phone or driving, pull over to minimize the chances of the call being dropped. This also allows you to give your undivided attention to the call. You should put forth the idea that there is no one more important than that individual at this moment.
- Be professional. Don't say things like "yeah" and "dude." You want to show potential employers how you would act in front of clients, patients or even other internal contacts.
- Be respectful of the hiring manager or recruiter's time. Interviewers can be very busy and often calls or meetings can run long. For example, if a recruiter says she will call you at 2 p.m. and you haven't heard from her, give her a few minutes. Don't call every 2-3 minutes in a panic, thinking you've missed the call and therefore, the opportunity. One voicemail message a few minutes after your designated time will suffice. In the age of caller ID, you don't want to have your number show up every 1-2 minutes. That's a bad impression.
- Wear proper business attire. Be conscious of your personal appearance. Take a moment to stop by a restroom to make sure you look presentable. Make sure there's no spinach in your teeth.
- Use discretion when speaking about yourself. It is alright to speak of some of your strengths, but don't appear to be bragging or pompous.
- Be conscious and aware of your conversations. For example, avoid name dropping unless it's appropriate to the conversation. Don't discuss your family or personal life unless the conversation is casual on the other and is related to the conversation. Be "present" and engaged with the conversation and, again, be professional.
- Say "thank you." When an organization has spent its time and resources to speak with you, you owe them a thank you. An email will suffice, but there's still something to be said for the old-fashioned pen and paper note.
As a side note, address your letters/e-mails/phone messages to "Mr./Ms." rather than a first name. If the individual says to call them by a first name, then that becomes acceptable.
These differentiations that make you stand out from other candidates could lead to a rewarding and exciting career.
Matthew T. Patton is a former editor of ADVANCE.