Dallas-ites like to think of themselves as warm, welcoming people whose charm will make you remember them long after you have left their company. However, what is it about being in a job search that makes some job seekers think that acceptable rules of social behavior no longer apply? Whether you are applying online, working your network of contacts, or going door to door, manners matter!
Let's break down the do's and don'ts of job search etiquette:
1) Networking: While asking the questions "are you hiring", "can you get my resume to HR?" and "will you recommend me" may seem like the fastest route to getting a job, they really are not. Think about it from your contact's perspective. They may not know you all that well, and may not feel comfortable putting their career on the line to help you get a job. To compound the situation, they may feel uncomfortable in telling you that to your face, so the easy way is to say yes to your face and throw away your resume behind your back. Doesn't make your contact a bad friend-it just means that they don't want to hurt your feelings by admitting concern about signing off on you. A better approach would be to ask for advice: "My background is in x, y, and z. I see that you have a similar background. If you were in my situation, who would you be talking to? What would you be doing?" Remember to tailor your outreach so that it is no or low-risk for your contact. Asking for advice in a respectful, no-risk way is a much softer approach to working your networking contacts. Already found a job? Then don't forget to close the circle with your networking contacts. Bob and Sue send you job leads all the time? Make sure that you update them when you find a job and thank them for their efforts. And for goodness' sake-return the favor!
2) Applications: Whether you are applying online or in person, there is a chance that you will engage with a human at some point in the process. When you do, please remember that every interaction is an interview, even if it doesn't feel like it. Call to follow up, or get a call for a screening and want to stand out? Being polite is a great way of doing that. Ask how the other person's day is going, inquire as to their weekend, or simply (and genuinely) thank them for making the time to call you...this is a situation where manners absolutely matter!
3) Going door to door: While this is not a highly effective method for job searching, it is one that many job seekers still frequently employ. As a result, this is typically where you see candidates make the biggest etiquette mistakes. Many a foolish job seeker has been rude to the receptionist only to find out that he or she was actually the hiring manager's assistant filling in for someone's lunch. Not only have you committed a sin of bad manners to someone just trying to do their job, but you have also probably guaranteed your slot in the reject pile based on how you have treated this very influential member of staff. Don't think administrative support personnel have input on hiring decisions? Ha! Ask anyone who has had a good assistant and they will tell you that admins run the world!
So, let's sum up: simply think about basic human decency and apply it to the search process. Return calls when called about a job, thank people for speaking with you, and just generally be nice. And let's continue our reputation as nice people here in Dallas-even when we are unemployed!