You may be wondering what etiquette has to do with entrepreneurship, or getting a job in general. Lots! Etiquette plays a large part in acquiring a job- from networking, to sending out resumes, to the Thank You follow up. Having good etiquette could be the competitive advantage you need to OWN the job search and secure those clients. So, if I have peeked your interest, let’s get started!
Landing your dream job is a process. It is a process that begins even before you apply for the job. Whether you are in school, graduated, or already have a job and looking to advance, the correct process is key.
Business Etiquette for Entrepreneurs & Job Seekers
Entrepreneurs and job seekers alike can benefit from learning the basics of good business etiquette. Not only does it make you appear more professional, it could be the competitive advantage that gets you chosen out of a sea of applicants. Below are some etiquette tips to consider when applying for that next job.
Establish a Core Group
To build your network, you should begin by developing a “core group” that can put you in front of the right people who in turn may lead to potential employment. If you do not have a core group or even wondering how to get such a group together, here are a few suggestions:
- A co-worker or mentor
- A boss you admire
- A friends who has good connections
Stay in Touch
Once you have this group together, remember to stay in touch throughout and even after the process. Do not become a nuisance with daily emails or phone calls. Keep in mind, your core group does have things going on, too. When you are considering or have obtained a member of your group, ask upfront how often you can call or email them. This way you are not becoming a problem and they will want to help you, not avoid you.
Make New Connections
Always make sure you have a business card to pass along when networking. If you do not have one at the initial meeting, you can include it in the thank you card you must send. You always send a thank you card to the person you wish to include in your group even if they cannot help at this time. This is an important gesture that will present professionalism in the eyes of your future group member. This shows your appreciation and respect for their time.
You only need to send a thank you card to anyone who spent more than fifteen minutes with you. Any less time can be thanked with a handshake and business card. Never forget to carry business cards if you have them. It is very unprofessional to awkwardly search for a pen and paper. Being prepared shows professionalism.
Now that you have gathered your core group, how and what you do next is crucial in getting or being rejected for the interview.
Sending Out Resumes
Once again, this is very crucial. When faxing (only if necessary), emailing, or handing out your resume or proposal in person, remember the person receiving it needs a good reason to look it over or pass it along to who will be looking it over. If your document has many misspelled words, grammatical errors, or is not easy to read, you can guarantee it will be tossed to the wind. Making sure it is done professionally announces to your potential client or employer that you are indeed ready for the responsibility of the job.
Include a Cover Letter
To start, always include a cover letter. Yes, the resume will have your name on it along with other vital information, but it cannot speak for you as an introduction to itself. The cover letter is your official introduction. In your letter:
- State what you can bring to the company you are applying for
- State the job you are seeking
- Address the letter with “Dear Mr., Ms., or Mrs. and their last name. You should obtain this information before writing the letter.
- Don’t use the letterhead from the company you are currently employed
- Don’t repeat your resume
- Do tailor each letter to each company you are applying
- Don’t lie! Ever! This can and often does come back to bite you in the job seeking butt
Regarding your resume, besides keeping it professional it is important to:
- Highlight the skills you have acquired or already have as long as they are relatable to the job you are seeking
- Do your homework on the company you are seeking employment. A little bit of knowledge can go a long way
- Keep your resume to one or two pages
- You are not “Elle Woods”, use white, cream or ivory paper
- Use a readable font, size at 12 point never below 10 point. Skip the cool, jazzy or trendy fonts
- Do include an Objective, Summary and Key Skills section
- Do not include references, salary, age, grade average, photo, and the word “resume”. You can bring your references to the interview.
Follow up with a thank you card, even if you do not get an opportunity to interview. You want to thank the company for their time and leave a good impression for future job opportunities. What you do today, can benefit you tomorrow.
You’ve made it! You got your foot in the door! Congratulations!! Here is where etiquette shines the most. You will be meeting your potential employer face to face for the first time. Attitude, appearance, and how you handle yourself during the interview is very important. Here are some key points:
- Be on time. I can’t stress that enough
- Be prepared. This is where that research you’ve done on the company will really count
- Dress your best.
- Smile, speak slowly, clearly, and make eye contact.
- Keep jewelry and scents to a minimum.
- Groom – nails clean and cut, bathe, combined hair, clean clothes and shoes, and minimal makeup.
- Be confident.
- Cover up visible tattoos and remove any facial piercings
- Always, always, always, thank your interviewer with a firm handshake and genuine smile.
- Follow up with a thank you card within a day.
To help you out even more, here are some other valuable points:
- Do practice your interview skills at home in front of a mirror. You can see how you look and hear yourself speak
- Do practice proper posture. No slouching.
- Be enthusiastic but not overly so.
- Do ask questions, especially if you do not understand something.
- Turn off our cell phone.
- Never chew gum or have candy in your mouth.
- Be aware of any fidgeting habits you may have and keep them calmed if you can.
- Never speak negatively of your current or former places of employment. This includes the people, too.
One key thing to remember: If you are asked an inappropriate question, you can decline to answer. Respond with, “Sorry, but I do not feel comfortable answering that question.” If they persist, then maybe that is not the company for you. You should never feel pressured during an interview.
The Thank You Follow-Up
With anything during this process of obtaining employment, remember the thank you card is always appropriate. This gesture should be done within one or two days of your meeting, sending out a resume, and interview. And yes, it should be handwritten.
1. When sending out thank you cards to people you have networked with, keep it simple:
Dear Mr./Ms. (title and last name),
Thank you for taking the time to talk with me (fill in the day and place you met). I am grateful for the time you spent reviewing my career objectives and recommending strategies for achieving them.
I especially appreciate your offer to connect me to others in your network. I plan on following up with the contacts you provided right away. I will also use the online networking resources you recommended to further my job search.
Again, thank you so much for your help. I greatly appreciate the assistance you have provided me.
2. For the resume, use the same format as the networking card. Always send out a thank you card even if you do not hear back from the company:
Dear (title and last name)
Thank you for taking the time to receive my resume. I am hopeful that after you have reviewed it, and will see that I am a good fit for the position of (fill in job you are applying for) at (the name of the company you are applying to).
Again, thank you so much for your time and I look forward to interviewing for the (fill in position) in your company.
3. For the interview, the same style applies as the networking and resume note. Remember to send a thank you note even if you do not get the job:
Dear (title and last name),
Thank you for taking the time to speak with me yesterday about the (fill in position) with (company name). It was a pleasure meeting with you, and I truly enjoyed learning more about the role and the company. After our conversation, I am confident that my skills and experiences are a great match for this opportunity.
I am very enthusiastic about the possibility of joining your team and would greatly appreciate a follow-up as you move forward with the hiring process. If you need any further information, please do not hesitate to contact me by email or phone. Thanks again, and I hope to hear from you in the near future.
Good Business Etiquette Will Take You Far
I do hope these quick, but efficient points help you to get through the process of getting the job. Stepping into the world of professional employment can be both intimidating and frustrating if you do not know where or how to start. Just remember at all times, always apply etiquette in any situation. You can’t go wrong with good manners. And practice, practice, practice.
Have questions about good business etiquette? Leave them in the comments below!