Is there a polite – or impolite – way to conduct a job search? The answer is yes.
1. Handshakes. Our increasingly multicultural world has made this seem like a gray area. Do offer your hand to everyone you meet in this process. If someone doesn’t want to shake hands, they will say so. And don’t take offense.
2. Picking up the tab at networking meetings. If you did the inviting, you should probably do the buying. To make things easier on your pocketbook, try to select non-lunch times and consider pre-purchasing discount cards for your most-frequently used coffee shops.
3. Parking all day at the coffee shop. Make a rule for yourself: One new purchase (not just a refill) for every hour you spend in the coffee shop.
4. Interview conduct – candidates. To hear interviewers’ stories, candidates have lost all grip on etiquette. Prove them wrong by following as many of these tips as you can: Don’t arrive more than 10 minutes early; shake everyone’s hand; thank them for the interview; express your interest in the job; dress respectfully; put away your electronic devices; bring extra copies of your materials.
5. Interview conduct – employers. Don’t keep the candidate waiting, but apologize if you do; use a host mentality to set the candidate at ease – this means checking that they will have a comfortable place to sit, that they know the length of the meeting and what is expected of them and that they are told who the other interviewers are; explain the overall hiring process and timeline; put away your electronic devices; dress respectfully – yes, you may have a casual workplace, but this is a significant meeting in this person’s career – why are you wearing jeans?
6. Follow-up contact from candidates. In the world of business, time passing means opportunities lost. That’s why I advise job seekers to follow up two to four times before letting something go. If done briefly, professionally, and with a decent interval between contacts (at least a week, possibly two), this is not pestering. Keep an upbeat or neutral tone, but never accusing.
And of course, if the other person asks that you stop calling because they can’t help you at this time, thank them and do exactly as they’ve requested.
7. Follow-up from employers. The more personal the contact, the better, but even a form letter beats silence. And if you want the candidate to stop contacting you, just say so. How about, “I don’t have any more information at this point. I promise to call you when this gets to the next stage, however that turns out for you. So please don’t contact me until I can get back to you.”
8. References. Ask each person if you can use him or her for a reference, and ask which contact information he or she prefer you use. Then, whenever you get close enough to an offer, give a few details about the position so the person won’t be caught off guard. Finally, check in occasionally.
9. Final updates. Anticipate getting a job by tracking all the people giving you a hand now. Sharing your good news will be a reward to them for their investment in you. And yes, it’s the polite thing to do.