7 Etiquette Rules to Boost Your Job Search Success

Published: Sep 05, 2013

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September 5, 2013

7 Ways to be Professional in the Job Search

By Bob McIntosh, Career Trainer

My daughter recently had to defend her position when she was accused of something that she and I felt was unjust. Nonetheless, before she spoke to the principal, I told her to be professional. The look on her face was priceless.

“How should I act professional in this situation, Dad?” she asked.

Exactly. How do you act professional in a situation that is less than desirable? The best answer I could give my daughter is, “Do your best.”

This recent event prompted me to think of 7 rules about professionalism in the job search:

1. Be nice to the people you meet. In your job search you’ll run into a number of putzzes, like the networkers who are all about themselves; the people who don’t call or meet you when they say they will; the inside contact who said he’d deliver your resume directly to the hiring manager, but doesn’t. In all these situations it’s best to act the way you’d like to be remembered. That’s professionalism.

2. Observe how the job search is conducted. I’ve witnessed those who understand the norms of the job search and those who don’t. The ones who do, dress appropriately, maintain a positive attitude (despite how they’re feeling inside), and follow proper etiquette. You are part of an organization called the Job Search.

3. Take the job search seriously. And be focused. Your job search is one of the most important events in your life; don’t take it lightly. I ask my workshop attendees how many hours a week they should dedicate to their job search. The ones who tell me what they think I want to hear say more than 40 hours. That might be a bit extreme, as there are other important things in your life, like family. I say 30-35 hours should suffice. Work smarter, not harder, as they say.

4. Listen to constructive criticism. It is essential that you don’t get offended when someone critiques your “brilliant” résumé, interview performance, or networking etiquette. People generally want to help you in your job search. You’re not required to take their advice, but listen to what they have to say.

5. Show up reliably. In your case, it’s for the interview and appointments you’ve set to meet with other jobseekers. The rule of never being late still applies. Call ahead if you’re going to be late, though. You might get some forgiveness. This rule of professionalism speaks to following up with what you’ve planned. Develop the mindset.

6. Be helpful to others; what goes around comes around. This is a great rule to keep in mind when networking. Remember that you’re not there to just take from others; you’re also there to give information and advice and possible job leads.

7. The employer is not your enemy. Here’s the thing, the employer is only trying to hire the best person possible. Many hiring managers, HR, recruiters have been burned by hiring the wrong person—68% have done it at least once—at the price of $25K-$50K. Give reason for the employer to feel she’s hiring the right person.

I was proud of how my daughter handled the situation. She acted professionally and manged to arrange a compromise that she and the principal were happy with. I, on the other hand, might not have done so well.

About the Author

Bob McIntosh, CPRW, is a career trainer at the Career Center of Lowell, where he leads more than 20 workshops on the career search. Bob is often the person jobseekers and staff go to for advice on the job search. As well, he critiques resumes and conducts mock interviews. One of his greatest accomplishments is starting a LinkedIn group, which is one of the largest of its kind in the state, and developing three in-high-demand workshops on LinkedIn. Bob’s greatest pleasure is helping people find rewarding careers in a competitive job market. Please visit Bob's blog at www.thingscareerrelated.wordpress.com.

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