We all want to look and act our best when we search for new jobs, in person and virtually. The better we are perceived, the better caliber of job we are likely to be offered (or considered for). If you fail to “show up,” you will fail to get the best jobs. In a way, it is just common sense. Maintaining a professional disposition, at all times, is all just a part of being a job searcher.
So, to aid you on your quest, here are some do’s and don’t-you-dares to inspire you to think actively about your behavior during your job search. With a little time and effort and these quick tips, you will be sure to come across as a consummate professional.
Do: Do what you say you are going to do.
While this really should go without saying, it is a pretty big issue as we all lead busy lives and sometimes life gets in the way of commitments. However, be sure to follow this mantra in all your communications with potential employers and recruiters – do what you say you will do. For example, if you tell someone you will send them a resume after meeting them, do it. If you promise a time to talk on the phone, take the call at the allotted time – don’t reschedule unless it is a real emergency. Be sure to make it a point to deliver on what you promise; it demonstrates that you are professional, trustworthy, and dependable.
Do: Be punctual. Time is the one thing we cannot buy enough of, and no one likes having their time wasted. Show up for interviews on time, make calls on time (not too early, never late) and stick to the allocated meeting cutoff times as most people roll from one meeting into another. Setting someone else back even ten minutes snowballs into every meeting that person has throughout the day. It is not fair to take that time away from others, and it is certainly a behavior that will tarnish your reputation. Don’t be selfish, be punctual, and respectful of other’s time.
Don’t-You-Dare: Badmouth anyone, anytime. Face it, you are going to have to talk about previous jobs and managers, and there is most certainly some level of resentment in there somewhere – it is human nature. However, avoid that trap. Purposefully craft your words about any unpleasant work-related experiences to avoid going down that path. Even if your job was terminated so the boss could place his irresponsible son in your role – there is no reason you must get into details. Leave things as open-ended as possible, and speak in a neutral or positive tone, always. In the scenario above, the answer is that senior management decided that it was time to reorganize his employees and unfortunately you simply weren’t a part of the new vision. Then talk about how the opportunity presents you with a new goal of finding the next step in your career.
Don’t-You-Dare: Communicate unprofessionally. One might say ‘via text message’ here, but many recruiters have started using texting as a method to reach candidates, particularly on the road. The key is to be professional in any communication you make. Use full sentences, don’t abbreviate. Punctuate. It is not GR8 to speak in #hashtag, and it takes just a few more seconds to use full words and proper grammar. Make sure your points are clear by using full sentences. Spell check your emails. Shut down any social media links or references to pages if they are personal. Essentially, build yourself a bubble of job search related behaviors that demonstrate that you know how to separate your work life from your personal life.
Don’t-You-Dare: Overshare. Yes, interviewers and companies want to get to know you – but they want to get to know the professional you – not the personal you. They do not need to know the ‘you’ that may have had too many drinks at the bar last night, or spent too much money and needs a job to pay for your habits. Talk freely, as real people talk, and give more than just ‘canned’ answers. Be sure that your personality comes through, but speak less and give more. Keep your answers to interview questions short, pertinent and on point. Don’t ramble. Don’t overshare. Keep it simple, and on point, whenever possible.