Are you looking for the next challenge? Perhaps you have just graduated? Or maybe you were recently fired by your less than friendly boss.
There are myriad reasons you might be searching for a new job, but whatever it is, the process will undoubtedly be on the stressful side and could cause you a few sleepiness nights. If you’re expected to be inundated with offers, voicemail drops are a smart choice, especially if you’re applying for jobs in differing time zones.
We’re all looking for that dream job—to become one of the women that changed the world (beyond binary and men included)—in a place where you can simultaneously feel appreciated and valued. The competition is fierce, and the road is long. To get what you want, you will have to navigate the minefield that is the recruitment process.
This is not for the weak-willed, and even the hardiest of us have cracked under the pressure. There are awkward conversations to be had and tricky situations to be handled during the interview and hiring process. If only the recruitment process was as simple as how to set up a conference call. Alas, it is not.
The dos and don’ts are sometimes unclear—how do you behave when faced with a hoodie-wearing senior engineer who drinks beer in the office with her team on a Friday compared to a suit-wearing accountancy role? Whatever the job, or your reasons for applying, here are nine of the best job-hunting etiquettes you can’t afford to ignore.
1. Clean up Your Social Media
Before you log in to LinkedIn, go straight to your Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. What have you posted? What comments have you made? And, what have others publicly said about you? A Herculean 90% of companies claim to review candidates’ social media. According to PR Newswire, 79% of businesses have rejected a candidate based on negative social media content, including offensive language, poor spelling, and vanity.
However, making your social media presence incognito is easy—just change the settings to private. Facebook is growing up, and so can you. Long gone are the days when it was funny to share your inebriation with the world. Instead, use the platforms to post articles demonstrating your depth of knowledge and understanding of the industry in which you work.
2. First Impressions
First impressions matter. It might be ok for the boss to dress casually, but you are probably not the boss or the potential boss. Overdressing should always be your default—the shirt and tie have been tried and tested for generations and shows you are serious.
Keep it clean/ Nothing will put an employer off more than trousers with a suspicious stain and a candidate who looks like they have been dragged through a hedge backward. Shirts should be ironed, and shoes shined. And, even in today’s virtual world where we only exist from the waist upwards, there is a need for trousers. An impromptu stand up meeting will be an epic failure if your well-ironed shirt is tucked into your pajama trousers!
The importance of sleep the night before your interview should not be underestimated if you want to give the best impression. This will mean you are full of energy for the first contact with a potential employer. In preparation for that first call, make sure that you are in a quiet room away from screaming children and barking dogs, not eating or drinking, and don’t forget to smile!
3. Be Knowledgeable About the Company
Going into an interview without having researched the company and your interviewer is a sure-fire way of not making the second round. Be sure to study the company—why is it called what it’s called? What does the press say about it? LinkedIn is a perfect way to find out about your interviewer and the company owners’ biographies.Employers know that candidates get back what they give out, and not asking questions will smack of laziness. If you haven’t done your homework, you will be left fumbling around when the time comes for you to ask questions. Several well-prepared questions about the company itself as well as recent events in the industry as a whole will demonstrate the inquisitive mind of a genuinely interested candidate.
4. Talking About Your Weaknesses
“So, tell me about your weaknesses?” This classic question has derailed many-an-otherwise-successful-interview. Pretending you don’t have any will reek of arrogance and listing all your shortcomings will render you unemployable.
Preparation here is key—what the interviewer is really asking is how you perceive yourself as well as how you overcome challenges. Interviewers want to see traces of humility and vulnerability—they want the candidate to admit to and confront weakness and failure. So be truthful!
Describe a failure or a genuine weakness that you’re working on. But don’t forget to turn it into a strength by showing what you have learned by confronting it.
Your weakness-turn-strength could go something like this: “I could use more experience in delegating tasks. I realized I was trying to do everything myself—the work piled up and became unmanageable, so I took an online management course to learn how to put more trust in others. Since completing the course, I have engaged more with my team, and we are seeing far better results as there is more trust. The whole team is working together rather than just me!”
5. Why Are You Leaving Your Job?
“Tell us why you left your last job.”: the classic interview question. What do they really want to know? Are you supposed to tell them about how your old boss was a narcissist? Or about how your co-workers tried to get you fired just for using personal phone for work—once? What’s your justification?
The solution to this one involves delicately using language. The interviewer doesn’t want any of the things noted above. What they really want to ascertain with this question is your motivation—what drives you as a person. How you answer this will tell them a lot about your character, how intelligent you are, and your ambitions.
Don’t look back—look forwards. You are not running from anything, and you have nothing but praise for your old boss. It’s what you are running towards that is important. You have identified a company that can satisfy your ambition and provides you with opportunity and support to achieve your goals.
6. What Are Your Salary Expectations?
This is the dreaded question that you know is coming at the end of the interview. Should you broach the topic first or do you wait to be asked? You definitely don’t want to appear arrogant but, at the same time, you do want to feel valued.
A recommended method of addressing this issue is to discuss it early in the process. This will put you and the company on the same page from the beginning and give you confidence in each other. It is a far better strategy than suddenly feeling pushed into coming up with a figure and then committing to it on the spot because you feel pressured.
Intriguingly, the more important a job is for you, the more likely you are to make a mistake. Sometimes candidates agree to a salary that does not value them and is well below the market value because they feel they should. Make sure to value yourself, and don’t be afraid to reiterate the impact you will have in the new role.
7. Pay Attention
Be sure to pay complete attention from the beginning of the interview. It is all too common for an interviewer to explain a technical detail about inventory accounting, for example. At the outset, the candidate may also ask a question on that exact same topic later. Make this mistake and you will not be offered a second chance.
8. Show appreciation
When you meet potential employers for the first time, demonstrate your character by sending them a message thanking them for their time. This will also remind them of you and may even land you an interview. Some companies even post jobs that don’t exist to find good future candidates—and manners go a long way.
9. Being Patient When You Don’t Get a Call Back
Ghosting. It happens. Some companies just don’t reply; they don’t even have an intelligent automation system. You need to keep calm, professional, and employ a two-step method to address the issue.
After you send that initial application, make sure you leave a suitable time before reaching out to the company again. Holiday, maternity leave – there are many legitimate reasons for not receiving an answer straight away. But after three to five days, send a reminder email explaining that you tried to make contact and have not heard back. Repeat your request in a well-mannered way, and don’t be too demanding.
If another week elapses, you could send a final courteous email explaining that this is the third time you have tried to make contact about your application. State that you assume the company has no interest in you and you will, therefore, make no further contact—but make sure to end with your desire to reconnect in the future if the company’s situation changes.
Frustrating, but an employer ghosting you is not a great harbinger for a positive environment at a responsive company.
Following all these techniques as well as being considerate and polite might just land you your dream job. But most importantly, don’t forget the remarkable power of persistence.