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In job search, etiquette as essential as technology

Web sites like Indeed.com and LinkedIn.com have multiplied the number of job openings you can track and the professional contacts you can make. E-mail and smart phones make it easier to pitch yourself and set up appointments. But think twice before using that BlackBerry to type a message to the hiring manager whose e-mail address you uncovered online. In the end, landing the right job hinges on old-world skills. • Dave Willmer, executive director of Robert Half Technology, a tech industry recruiting division of staffing consultant Robert Half International, and Kate Wendleton, president of the Five O'Clock Club, a New York-based career counseling company, advise that job seekers — especially the young and tech-savvy — frequently misuse electronic gadgets and the Web and run roughshod over professional etiquette. Here is some of their advice. Associated Press

Avoid e-mail blasts: Resist the temptation to respond to each online job listing in your field, and focus on those that fit the best. Only about 6 percent of jobs are filled by candidates recruited through advertisements, said Wendleton, whose firm also conducts career research. If you can use personal contacts to learn about an opening that's not widely publicized, your chances of landing the job increase because you've got fewer rivals.

Embrace snail mail: In your first contact with a prospective employer, you're unlikely to stand out if you join other job seekers sending pitches via e-mail with resumes attached. E-mails also are too easy to delete. With snail mail, you control the appearance of your carefully crafted cover letter and resume. With e-mail, the user's machine can control settings for fonts and spacing.

Get personal: If you resort to e-mail pitches, make them personal. If you're introducing yourself to a hiring manager you've identified via a professional colleague, type that colleague's name in the e-mail's subject line and succinctly explain the link (e.g. "John Doe referred me") so the manager is less likely to hit delete.

Avoid followup foibles: If you land an interview, pay close attention if the hiring manager specifies how to make any followup contacts. E-mail can be a good option because of its speed. If the hiring manager is okay with e-mail, send a message that addresses any unanswered questions from the interview and state that you're also mailing a hardcopy. In the snail mail message, reference that you also sent the e-mail.

Don't follow up on an interview with an e-mail sent via a handheld gadget — there's too great a chance you'll thumb-type a typo-ridden message. Don't type without regard to grammar and capitalization, and resist including smiley faces.

Observe boundaries: Even if you managed to track down a hiring manager's cell phone number, don't call it unless given permission. "Cell phones are considered private," Wendleton said.

Stick with land lines: For any phone contact with a prospective employer, try to use a land line. With cell phones, there's too great a risk that you'll get a spotty connection, lose it altogether, or end up with excessive background noise if you're in a public place. If you lack a land line, call from a quiet place like a hotel lobby. Have a pen and pad ready so you can jot down information.

Manage your digital footprint: Hiring managers can be expected to go beyond your resume and references, and perform a background check online. So be judicious about what you post on social networking sites such as Facebook, and limit access to friends and family if it's something you wouldn't want an employer to see. Likewise, think before posting political opinions or personal information in blogs or other online forums. Consider posting under a pseudonym rather than your name. "Assume that anybody has access to anything," said Willmer.

Associated Press

In job search, etiquette as essential as technology 02/25/09 [Last modified: Wednesday, February 25, 2009 10:08am]

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