Job search etiquette - do's and dont's

By Robert Half on 7th March 2018

For many of us, the term 'etiquette' might bring to mind ideas about the right way to set a table or make introductions at a formal dinner party. But avoiding job lapse is more than that. In any market, potential employers consider attitude and professional demeanour heavily when evaluating candidates. Here are some guidelines on job search etiquette to help you find - and land - the position you want.

Do research the company

  • Find out as much as you can about the organisation before the interview.
  • Check out the firm's web site for its mission statement and goals, as well as the business' past financial performance. Set up Google alerts to monitor the company online.
  • Read analyst ratings, scan the company's annual report or search for media coverage.
  • If possible, talk to someone who currently works at the organsation or has worked there in the past.
  • Your research helps you at every stage of the job search process. By using this information to help you prepare your covering letter and questions for the interview, you demonstrate initiative and convey your interest and enthusiasm in joining the company.

Do remember the art of written communication

  • Your CV and covering letter or email application make a powerful first impression - one that ultimately decides whether you advance to the interview stage.
  • Take the time to customise your covering letter to each contact.
  • After an interview, promptly send a thank-you email. It's a courteous, formal gesture that has a lasting impact.

Don't play the "cat and mouse" game with salary

  • Give an honest answer, if the job requirements have been outlined it's in your best interest.
  • Being evasive or naming an unrealistic figure (if the topic comes up earlier in the process) can harm your credibility.
  • Do your homework before you arrive at the first interview by researching salary and benefits information for your role. 
  • To determine starting salaries for jobs comparable to the one at hand, check with finance and accounting associations or recruitment agencies.

Do make the best first impression possible

  • The interview begins as soon as you arrive at the company.
  • Keep in mind that you may be evaluated just as much in the waiting area as in the interview itself.
  • Make sure you are friendly to the receptionist, office assistant or anyone else who may greet you before and after the interview. If you are discourteous to a receptionist or anyone else in the company, it will negatively impact your chances of getting the job.
  • In a survey commissioned by our company, 91 percent of executives said they consider their administrative assistants' opinion of job candidates as an important part of the selection process for positions at all levels.

Do show respect for others' time

  • Beyond being punctual for interviews and responding promptly to requests for references, this rule also covers timing issues once you receive an employment offer.
  • If you're not prepared to give a yes or no answer immediately, thank your contact and promise a response within a few days.
  • Stretching out your decision time beyond a few days could convey a lack of interest, and may also inconvenience the prospective employer, who may need to fill the position quickly.
  • If you choose not to accept the job, inform the hiring manager immediately. This will give him or her a chance to offer the position to someone else.

Everyone you meet during a job search has the potential to make an impact on your professional growth. Any contact could become your next employer or a key networking resource. By following the rules of job search etiquette, you'll show professionalism and a drive to succeed - essential qualities for every job seeker. 

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