Give ’em a break!

August 3, 2009

Remember your manners during a job search

I’ve been recruiting for 3 economic cycles now (over 15 years) and I’ve noticed some distinct differences in this particular downturn. There are a bunch of folks who, for the first time in their career, have found themselves unemployed or fearful of becoming unemployed. I’ve also noticed that some of these folks are not practicing good manners in their quest for a new position.

Let’s set the stage a bit. There are companies hiring, there are jobs out there, and there are terrific opportunities for career development. The companies who are hiring are also experiencing a tremendous flow of candidates. The HR departments are understaffed and overworked. They not only screen applicants; they also take care of payroll, benefits, 401k administration, year end performance assessments, bonus calculations, employee on-boarding, training/development, payroll – you get the idea. The hiring managers with open positions are trying to hire while already tackling their full time roles. This is a catch 22 for them; they are busy and need to hire additional team members, but because they have open positions they are having a hard time finding space in their calendars to do an effective job of interviewing.

On the other side of the fence are job seekers. Sadly, our society doesn’t spend any time teaching people how to find a job. As a result, when you find yourself in the position to change employers (voluntarily or involuntarily) this causes stress. When stressed you may slide into unattractive behaviors, which compounds the lack of success in your search.

This is where I start with some sound motherly advice. Don’t forget your manners. Common courtesies such as please, thank you, follow up calls, acknowledgements, graceful exits, referrals, straightforward responses and open, honest communication may very well mean the difference between you and another candidate.

It is absolutely critical to be courteous to everyone you meet during the interview process. This means the front desk, security personnel, HR, future peers, passersby; everyone.

Write email thank you notes to everyone who takes time to meet you. Don’[t forget to get their cards or at least name spelling during the interview. Email thank yous are appropriate, especially during a job search. Time is critical, don’t wait for the US Mail to deliver your follow up.

Address direct questions with direct answers. It’s frustrating for the interviewer to listen to a candidate who goes off on a tangent or dances around the answer to a question. You won’t get a job using this approach.

Ask about follow up protocol. If the hiring manager says that she will make a decision in a week then ask if you can call back in a week. If the HR manager says you can follow up in 3 days, then make a note and make sure you keep the commitment.

If the position is not interesting to you bow out gracefully. Thank them for their consideration; let them know that you appreciate their offer and that you will refer friends and associates to them as appropriate.

Looking for a job is stressful and it’s easy to blame others for the situation. Stay focused on keeping a positive mental attitude, a likeable persona and on making it easy for your future employer to see you as a member of their team.

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