15 Job Search Etiquette Tips

Minding your Ps and Qs is always important, but good etiquette becomes even more essential during a job search. If you fail to create a positive and lasting impression with employers, it could result in you being passed over for a coveted position. Related: 10 Essential Email Etiquette Tips You Can’t Afford To Ignore It can be overwhelming and downright stressful keeping track of current resume trends, best interview practices, social media customs, and networking protocols, so here are a few tips to keep front of mind:

Career Communications

1. Do not address your cover letter to a generic “Sir or Madam."

No one appreciates being addressed in this non-specific fashion. To avoid offending the reader at the very start of your job application, locate the recruiter’s name and write to them directly (Dear Mr. Watson), or drop the salutation line altogether and simply reference the job title itself (RE: Marketing Manager).

2. Keep your personal email address professional.

An email address such as Iam2hot4u@mail.com leaves much to be desired. Displaying an informal or wacky email address on your resume, cover letter, or business cards will negatively impact your image.

3. Think twice about listing your cell phone number.

Only list your cell phone as a means of contact in your communications if you are prepared to answer it professionally at all times. If an employer calls to arrange an interview and you are in the bathroom, at the bar, or distracted by driving, it will not produce a positive impression.

4. Create a professional voicemail.

Create a professional sounding voicemail message for your phone(s) so if you happen to miss an employer’s call, they hear you at your best. Keep your message clear and simple, not cutesy, long-winded, or difficult to decipher.

5. Don't use work contact information.

Never provide your current work email or telephone number as a contact means during a job search. Prospective employers will not hire a person that blatantly abuses work resources for personal matters.

6. Speak with your references before providing their names to employers.

Always ask for permission to share their contact information and take the time to find out what they plan to say about you. Will these people help or hinder your job search?

7. Practice your handshake.

You will use this greeting at networking events, at the start and end of interviews, and even during casual encounters. Be memorable by ensuring your handshake is firm and confident, not limp, hesitant, or bone-crushing.


8. Take extra care with your grooming and attire at employment interviews.

Wear clean pressed clothes, avoid heavy perfume or aftershave, polish your shoes, and keep accessories to a minimum. You do not want to distract the employer with your flashy pink purse, heavy make-up, or loud tie.

9. Never chew gum, eat or drink food, or answer your cell phone during an interview!

These actions are downright rude and will certainly damage your chances of securing the job.

10. Prepare fully for every job interview.

Showing up disorganized or stumbling through interview questions is a waste of the employer’s time. Take the interview process seriously and spend 30 to 60 minutes before each interview reviewing your career history, preparing targeted career stories to share, and compiling provocative questions to ask at the end. For more insight on interview preparation, The Five Ps of Interview Perfection can help.

11. Always send a thank you note to the interviewer(s) after an interview.

The power of a simple thank you goes a long way. Request the business cards of everyone you meet so you can send a personalized follow-up.


12. Look people in the eye.

When conversing with people at networking events, remember to smile and look each individual in the eye. Try not to monopolize conversations or come across as unapproachable. Ask appropriate and engaging questions and let others share first.

13. Keep your online presence clean.

It is becoming more common for recruiters to research job seekers online. What does a simple Google search turn up about you? Find out before the employer does! Take down inappropriate photos and ‘bury’ negative information.

14. Don’t be selfish on social media.

You will get more out of online networking if you focus on how you can help others, not how they can help you. The phrase “give to get” is very powerful and applies to all forms of networking during a job search.

15. Aim for quality of relationships over quantity.

No need to distribute or collect copious amounts of business cards at events. Similarly, it isn’t a race to gather the most friends on Facebook or accumulate a certain number of contacts on LinkedIn. Form meaningful and lasting connections that better support your job search. What is your job search etiquette tip?

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