Whether you’re transitioning into the workforce for the first time or re-entering it later in life, you may be feeling a little daunted by the mere idea. It’s not easy to look for work at any age, but there are some tips that can give you an edge over your competition.
If you think about it, most people applying for a specific job probably share similar experiences and education. So, all other things being equal, how will you set yourself apart to ultimately land the job? Quite honestly, it’s not about a having a stellar résumé anymore. It’s not even really about showing up in a polished outfit for the interview, because although it’s important, most people do this anyway. It is about your people skills. How do you treat the person interviewing you? How do you address and engage the potential employer over the phone, or even over email? At the end of the day, practicing good manners will help you land, keep, and eventually move up in a job.
The following are my top 10 tips to outclass your competition during your job search:
1. Use spell check. Make sure there aren’t any typos in your résumé. Additionally, if you can, have someone proofread it. It’s you on that page, and it’s the first impression you’re offering a potential employer; you want to appear polished and professional.
2. Communicate professionally. Your emails should also be free of typos and grammatical errors. There shouldn’t be any abbreviated texting language or emojis.
3. Rethink your email address. Any contact information should convey professionalism so steer clear of funny names and stick to your own name. Creating an email address dedicated to anything work-related is an easy way to keep your social life separate.
4. Check your outgoing message. If you’re going to provide your cell phone number on your résumé, make sure the outgoing message potential callers will hear is professional and not something casual like, “Hey! You know what to do!” Frequently an employer won’t leave a voicemail because they’ll wonder if they called the right number and question your professionalism.
5. Manage your online image. If potential employers were to search you on the Internet or social media, which more and more now do, what would they find? If anything requires an explanation, delete it immediately. Don’t rely on privacy settings. It’s unlikely you’ll ever be present when they do search you, and they may discount you as a candidate based on something they see. Moving forward, think before you post something online because once it’s out there, it’s very difficult to remove.
6. Dress for success. Once you’ve been granted an interview, make sure that you wear your best and remember grooming is important too. It shows that you take the process seriously. First impressions are made within seconds!
7. Watch your body language. Before you enter the building where your interview is going to be held, turn off your phone and take out your ear buds. You don’t want to be or appear distracted. When you’re waiting to meet with your interviewer, leave the phone alone so that you can be fully present. When you’re finally face to face with your interviewer, mind your posture. You’ll convey interest and appear more confident and professional.
8. Don’t interrupt. We like to work with people we like and if you never let the interviewer get a word in edgewise, you won’t leave a positive impression.
9. Be punctual and promptly return messages. It’s as simple as respecting people’s time. Employers want to hire people they see are reliable and can contact.
10. Follow up with a thank you. Someone just took the time to see if you’re a fit within their organization. It’s only right you thank them for their time and the opportunity. Handwritten notes are best, as few people actually send them and you’ll stand out for all the right reasons. Email is an acceptable second choice too.
It all comes down to how we interact with people. If you can be engaging, polite, and professional, you’ll increase your chances of getting hired. Competition is fierce, and although the world runs on technology, the individuals who will make your transition to the workplace a success still expect to be treated with courtesy and respect.