May is upon us! Many of you are graduating from college, or will be graduating from college in August. This is the perfect time to research companies and apply for jobs. I recently wrote about some interview tips that I have found helpful throughout my career. Though I graduated seven years ago this month, I find that important aspects of job interviews haven’t changed.
I have heard from numerous people that it’s acceptable to send an electronic thank you note because it’s more efficient. Though I see the logic behind it, I still recommend a hand-written thank you note. Not only is it thoughtful, but it’s so rare these days that you will stand out. As Eliza Browning mentions, “You'll differentiate yourself by doing so.” I think, unfortunately, this step has fallen by the wayside for younger generations. I consider this step to be crucial! It shows appreciation and good manners and who wouldn’t want to hire someone who possesses those traits? Additionally, if most young people aren't sending thank you notes, you will represent your generation in a positive manner.
One thing I remember learning at a young age is to always remember the names of the people you encounter. I learned it was a sign of respect as well as a sign that you pay attention. Trust me: people will notice if you remember their name, or if you are quick to remember the names of others. Teachers marvel at how quickly I learn 100 names. This is something you should wear like a badge of honor. Also, it's common courtesy to learn names of those around you - it's glaringly obvious when one doesn't know names of co-workers.
In today's digital world, it's easy to leave an electronic device on when you go into a meeting or interview. I recommend always turning electronics off completely - not vibrate - but off. Otherwise, electronics can prove tempting if you are waiting for an interview or for a meeting to start. I was once interviewed by three people, One interviewer was on his phone for the majority of my interview. He paused to ask me a few questions, but seemed preoccupied. I remember how uneasy it made me feel. Though I did get the job, this interaction stayed with me. When you go into a company, networking event, sales pitch, or a myriad of other things, you do NOT want to be remembered as the person who was too attached to his or her phone.
This brings me to a final tip. This one is often preached, but rarely practiced. Stay out of office politics and gossip. Yes, I have read the research that says gossiping creates a common bond. Sometimes it's a trap you may fall into, even if you try to stay on the fringe. My advice? Act interested in what co-workers have to say, but never contribute to the conversation negatively (especially when you're new). Even if you agree and are asked your opinion, say you aren't familiar enough with the situation, or you never noticed that John Smith left early each day. There is a fine line between excluding yourself from things so you don't contribute (when you do this, you appear snobby or uninterested) and keeping quiet while still being perceived as friendly and open. Tread carefully.
Are there etiquette tips that I have missed? Have you learned anything useful that you would like to share?