What Would Your Mother Say? Job Search Etiquette in the 21st Century
Dear old Mother. She looked after you, told you to eat your vegetables, and reminded you to look both ways before crossing the street. You don’t know what you would have done without her.
But right now, what you need is a career change. A fresh opportunity. And although your mother taught you many valuable lessons, landing a job in the digital age wasn’t one of them.
Or was it?
The truth is, many of our mothers come from the old-school of job hunting. Newspapers and red pens, corded telephones, spontaneous visits to offices around town. In the age of instant information and constant connectivity, such tactics seem as relevant as a horse and buggy on a four-lane highway.
But that’s where appearances can be deceiving. It’s precisely because everything is so instant, so automated and convenient, that your mother’s job hunting tactics are gaining steam once again.
There’s no question that our reach as job candidates is more extensive today. The internet allows us to make contact with hundreds of potential employers in the space of a few hours. The question is this: How effective, how tangible, is the majority of that contact? Before the internet, there was a certain degree of weight and consideration behind every phone call and resumé. People were polite to each other. They smiled and shook hands. They spoke face-to-face and got to know each other.
What companies and candidates are realising today is that, even though the job search has drastically changed, there are certain things that never go out of style. They’re as valuable now as they were twenty or thirty years ago.
Like so many other areas of life, the digital age has not done away with values that previously existed. It has merely created a need to integrate them with new technology.
So, in honour of all our mums and the enduring values they represent, let’s take a look at some “do’s and dont’s” for today’s job search.
Make a phone call to your friends and contacts. This is called networking. An impersonal note on social media isn’t the same thing! Remember—those forms of contact that are easiest to initiate are also easiest to ignore.
If you receive contacts via friends or colleagues, and these contacts help you in some way, give that friend or colleague a personal email or phone call to say thank you. Let them know how their contacts helped. It’s always a real positive to let people know you appreciate their effort and haven’t wasted their time.
Always follow through on any contact given! Even if the contact doesn’t seem to lead anywhere, the politeness and courtesy of following through has its own effect.
Manners, manners, manners! Treat everyone with respect and politeness. Doing so will carry you a long way indeed.
When it comes to that networking meeting, plan it down to the finest details. What will you wear? Hint: always wear business attire. How will you get there? If by public transport, know the timetables. If by car, know exactly where to park. Having all your ducks in a row beforehand leaves no room for rude surprises and unbecoming impressions.
Remember how your mother always told you to do your homework? Well, don’t stop now. Think about training opportunities that might help you land the job that you want. Starting a course, even though not finished, will appeal to prospective employers.\
Wash behind your ears! Making sure you are polished before approaching people, whether it’s a networking meeting or a job interview, has not lost one bit of relevance.
Put off your search until tomorrow. Having access to so much information is great, but it also heightens the competition. Does this mean you should rush yourself, and think of it as a race? Not at all—just be steady and persistent. This will always pay higher dividends than hurried applications or phone calls.
Apply for a new job using your company email address. This sends a highly unprofessional message. Always use a personal email address with a plain name. By doing so, you demonstrate that you take your existing role as seriously as your next.
Brag about yourself. Your mother never liked it when you did that, and neither will potential employers! Being able to sell yourself without going overboard is a sign of confidence and professionalism.
What Would Your Mother Say?
There may be moments during your job search when you aren’t exactly sure what move to make. When in doubt, think back to the rules your mother enforced when you were growing up. No matter how much the employment landscape seems to have changed, you’ll be amazed how her wisdom can keep you on the right track.
“Manners are a sensitive awareness of the feelings of others. If you have that awareness, you have good manners, no matter what fork you use.”
- Emily Post
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