Professional Email Etiquette

Great communication skills are critical for any career, so it’s important that you express yourself in the clearest, most professional way possible. When it comes to job hunting, every instance of communication with a potential employer is extremely important. Even something as simple as a poorly written email could result in you losing out on an opportunity. Here are a few simple tips to help you write stronger, more articulate emails:

 

  • Keep it simple: Hiring managers have to go through hundreds of emails a day from potential candidates so don’t take up any more of their time than you have to.
    • Get to the purpose of your email as quickly as possible!
      • Example: If you are inquiring about the status of a position, you don’t need to explain why you’re interested in the position, etc. Simply ask if the job is still available, and provide contact information so they can reach you.
  • Keep it professional: Remember that you are building a professional relationship, not a personal one.
    • Emoticons are cute, but not appropriate to send potential employers. Keep the J’s for your friends.
    • Make sure your email address is appropriate and mature. For example, try creating an email address with your name in it instead of cute alternatives like “SoccerStud56” or “LadyBug33.”
  • Keep it appreciative: Proper business correspondence etiquette states that you should use some form of thanks in the first sentence of any email.
    • Follow-up emails after interviews are an important way to cement the connection you made. Make sure to thank your potential employer for their time and consideration.
    • If a potential employer responds to an email inquiry, it is polite to thank them for their prompt response.
  • Check it often: When on the job hunt, it is important to check your emails at least once a day.
    • Missing an interview request via email could result in you missing out on an opportunity. If you don’t respond quickly enough, they will find someone else who will!
  • Spell-check it: Bad grammar and punctuation are sure to turn away any prospective employers.
    • Make sure to review the content of an email at least twice before hitting send.
    • Forgetting to create a message subject that clearly reflects the content of your email is another easily corrected mistake. Leaving it as “No Subject” is a definite turn off for employers looking through full inboxes

 

Keep these tips handy next time you email a prospective employer and you’ll be sure to make a good impression!

How to Succeed as a Temp

As we have previously mentioned, temporary work is a great way to get your foot in the door with an organization and potentially find a permanent job with them. For that reason, you should treat each and every temporary assignment as part of a long interview process. Everything you do and say (and even the things you don’t do or say) will make a positive or negative impression on your temporary supervisor. Going into a temp assignment with a great attitude and the desire to succeed will result in you making a great impression on the company you are temping for, and could possibly lead to a full-time job offer. Follow our tips below and you will be sure to succeed as a temporary employee:

 

  • Always act professionally
  • Take initiative whenever it seems appropriate
  • Express interest in the organization and what you are doing
  • Don’t use the computers or office machinery for personal use
  • Don’t text or make calls while on the clock
  • Avoid being late or missing work
  • Offer to take on additional responsibilities
  • Ask thoughtful and insightful questions
  • Make suggestions for improvement if appropriate
  • Build professional connections with your colleagues
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for additional clarification whenever necessary
  • Make sure your work is properly prioritized
  • Keep your workspace tidy and organized
  • Use a professional vocabulary and avoid any slang usage

Transitioning Your Work Wardrobe for Spring

As the weather gets warmer, professionals are ditching their winter wardrobes in favor of cooler clothing. While it’s important to dress appropriately for the season, you also need to adhere to your workplace’s dress code. If your office adheres to a business casual dress code, we have made lists of what is and is not appropriate to wear to help you prepare your spring wardrobe

 

What is appropriate?

  • Dress pants
  • Blouses
  • Skirts or dresses that reach the knee
  • Polo shirts
  • Button down shirts
  • Closed toe shoes
  • Khakis or slacks
  • Sweaters

 

What is not appropriate?

  • Jeans
  • Sneakers
  • Hats of any kind
  • Open toe shoes or sandals/flip flops
  • T-shirts
  • Shorts
  • Cargo pants
  • Athletic wear
  • Sweatpants and sweatshirts
  • Tank tops or sleeveless shirts
  • Revealing clothing
  • Tights/leggings

Being Punctual

Punctuality is a critical quality for any professional to have. While this may seem obvious, a lot of professionals struggle with being on time in this busy modern world. Even unemployed job seekers need to be aware of time frames and deadlines when interviewing for and applying to jobs. For now, we will focus on the importance of being on time for a job interview and provide some rules to help make sure you are always punctual in the future.

 

Rule #1: Don’t be late.

  • If you realize ahead of time that you are running late for an interview, call your interviewer immediately and let them know your situation. Be sure to apologize for the inconvenience.
  • In a tough job market, hiring managers have their pick when it comes to capable candidates. Even showing up five minutes late for a job interview could disqualify you for a position.
  • If a hiring manager can’t trust you to show up on time for an interview, they have no reason to trust that you will be on time for work or meet project deadlines.

Rule #2: Being too early is the same as being late.

  • Do not show up more than fifteen minutes early for a job interview unless you were otherwise instructed.
  • Showing up too early for an interview can make you appear desperate to hiring managers. Think of a job interview as a first date, you wouldn’t want your date to think you were overeager or desperate either.
  • The same as if you were late for an interview, a hiring manager will attribute you showing up a half hour early to your bad time management skills.

Rule #3: Know where you’re going ahead of time.

  • If you have time and are unfamiliar with the area, visit the company’s office prior to your interview so that you know exactly where you’re going and how long it will take you to get there.
  • If you don’t have time to physically scope out your route, use the Internet to plan it in advance.
  • If you are driving to your interview, make sure you know where you are going to park. You don’t want to be late because it took twenty minutes to find a parking space.

Rule #4: Show up early, but don’t go in.

  • The best advice we can give you is to intentionally allow yourself extra time to get to your interview. This will give you some wiggle room in case you run into unforeseen trouble such as traffic or delays on public transportation.
  • Even if you don’t hit any delays and end up outside of the office twenty minutes early, don’t go in! Find somewhere nearby you can kill time prior to your interview such as a coffee shop or deli. Use the extra time to review your notes one last time.

Interview Body Language

To prepare for a big job interview, most job seekers spend the majority of their time planning what they will say. While what you say is extremely important, you shouldn’t forget that how you look and present yourself in a job interview holds substantial weight in the eyes of hiring managers. Learn how to display proper body language in a job interview by reading our tips below:

 

  • Establish a comfortable distance between yourself and your interviewer. Invading a hiring manager’s personal space will make them feel uncomfortable and could distract them from what you are saying.
  • Sit up straight and lean in slightly towards your interviewer. This will show that you are attentive and engaged in the conversation.
  • Display enthusiasm by nodding occasionally and displaying other positive cues.
  • Maintain eye contact, but don’t be afraid to break it. Staring at your interviewer through the entirety of the interview could make them uncomfortable.
  • Smile often to show enthusiasm and interest in the position. Hiring managers will mistake a lack of expression as lack of interest in the position.
  • Sit still and avoid fidgeting. Touching your face, scratching your back, or playing with your hair will signal to your interviewer that you are uncomfortable or disinterested. Avoid shaking your leg, which will also display agitation and disinterest.
  • Give your interviewer a firm handshake at the beginning and end of your interview to display appreciation and confidence.

How to Land a Job with Little (or No) Experience

College graduates and entry-level workers continually face this age old dilemma: you can’t get a job without experience, but you can’t get experience without a job. Don’t worry; we are here to tell you how you can spin your lack of professional experience in a positive way in order to help you land your first job.

 

First off, networking is currently a very popular way to get your foot in the door with a company in your desired field. While your resume might not have much to show in terms of experience, a networking contact who knows you well can vouch for you to a hiring manager. Rather than send your resume blindly to job postings, build your professional network and see if there is anyone you know who is hiring, or knows someone who is! A lot of times, a good personality fit is just as important as relevant experience, so you should try to make friends in the right places!

 

Next, it’s important to highlight the skills you’ve gained outside of a professional work environment. This includes skills you’ve picked up from group projects at schools, part-time jobs, etc. Think of situational examples you can share with a hiring manager in which you used valuable skills such as team work, problem solving, or organization.

 

Another great way to boost your resume before applying to permanent jobs is to try temping. Temp agencies frequently hire recent college grads with little experience, and temp jobs provide job seekers with the opportunity to work in a professional setting and gain much-needed experience. Temping is also a great option for recent grads that are not sure what field they want to jump into. You can temp around at different offices in different industries to figure out what you like best before committing to a permanent job.

It’s Not Always Easy

Finding a job is not always easy, but it’s especially difficult today considering how tough the job market is. Prepare yourself for the challenges ahead by accepting the basic truths we have listed below:

 

  • You’re not guaranteed to get a position because you think the job description is a “perfect fit” with your background.
  • The cover letter you spent hours slaving over might never be read by a hiring manager.
  • Every hiring manager or recruiter you deal with during your job search might not be as nice, understanding, or polite as you are.
  • Even if you are the perfect fit for a job opportunity, there is always the possibility that someone else out there is an even better fit.
  • You may never hear back from the hiring manager who told you he would let you know whether or not you got the job by the end of the week.
  • You might to have to send out dozens or even hundreds of resumes/applications before landing a job offer.
  • The job postings you apply to (and get excited about) might already be filled.
  • There are hundreds, even thousands of people out there competing to get the same jobs that you are applying for.

 

Finding a job is definitely hard work, and you are probably going to face a lot of rejection before successfully landing an offer, but you shouldn’t let these realities dampen your spirit. The ultimate keys to a successful job search are a positive attitude, confidence, and determination. As long as you accept the challenges that lie ahead of you and face them head on, you will surely be successful in the end. Check out some of our previous Employment Tips for more advice on how to improve your chances of successfully landing a job in a difficult market.

How Recruiters Read Your Resume

Many employers enlist the help of staffing agencies to help them fill open positions, both permanent and temporary, which means your resume needs to get through a recruiter before it is ever seen by the hiring manager. So in order to optimize your resume for review by a recruiter, you need to know what goes through a recruiter’s head as they read it.

First, before a recruiter even opens your resume, you have to give them a reason to do so.  Recruiters are inundated with dozens, if not hundreds, of resumes per day. This means your cover letter needs to draw a recruiter in and make them want to take the next step, which is reviewing your resume. Your cover letter should be brief and to the point, quickly listing why you are a qualified candidate. The brevity is important because recruiters receive so many applications per day – they are not going to spend too much time reading a full-page essay about your entire work history.

So you’ve gotten a recruiter to open your resume, now what? Again, recruiters are extremely busy professionals who are often working to fill multiple job openings at once. They quickly scan through a resume looking for certain key words and experience before moving on to the next one. This is why it’s important for you to closely review the job description and/or posting before applying, and then update your resume appropriately. If the job posting says they are looking for candidates with sales, PowerPoint, and nonprofit experience then make sure all three of those words are easily found within your resume – ideally more than once!

It’s also important to note that recruiters spend the majority of their days looking at resumes, so they’ve learned to spot inconsistencies. This is why it’s important for you to always be 100% truthful with the information on your resume. By sending your resume to a client, a recruiter is putting their relationship with that client, as well as their own professional reputation on the line. They will not send a resume if they believe a candidate might have fibbed about their dates of employment, title, or work experience. You should also know that if a recruiter thinks there might be an inconsistency on your resume, they will not hesitate to investigate it, so always be upfront and truthful both on your resume and in your correspondence with a recruiter.

A recruiter will also hesitate to send any resume that is poorly written or contains multiple spelling and grammar mistakes. Again, their reputation is at stake when sending a bad resume. They do not want to tarnish their relationship with their client by sending a resume filled with grammatical errors, especially when there are tons of other resumes in their inbox that might be well-written. For this reason, you need to double- and triple-check your resume for any inconsistencies, or grammatical or formatting errors. At the end of the day, both your potential job and their job/reputation as a recruiter are on the line.

By understanding a recruiter’s mindset when reviewing your resume, you can get a leg-up on your competition and ensure your resume will catch the eye of the next recruiter who sees it.

The Importance of Building Relationships with Networking Contacts

As we have said time and time again, networking can be the key to you finding (and landing) your dream job! The problem is that many professionals get lazy after making a connection with a new networking contact and fail to follow up afterwards. For example, you meet someone who works in your desired industry, or works for a staffing agency that specializes in placements in that industry. You discuss your job search and exchange business cards with a promise to keep in touch, but you never hear from them again, nor do you reach out to them on your own. Failing to follow-up with a networking contact could potentially result in you missing out on a great opportunity, so read our advice below and learn how to properly follow-up in a way that can benefit your career.

 

  • The first step would be to research your new contact. Google them and/or connect with them on LinkedIn to learn more of their own work history and how it could benefit you.
  • Next, you should reach out via phone or email within two weeks of meeting them. Sending even a brief email can help to cement your initial connection. For example, say that it was a pleasure to meet them and you would definitely like to connect again soon.
  • Setting up another meeting, such as having lunch or meeting for coffee, would be your next step. Bring a copy of your resume with you, and discuss your career goals so that you can see whether or not your new contact would be able to aid you in your job search.
  • After having a meeting with your contact, it’s important to continue to follow-up and stay in touch. Check in with them every couple of weeks or so in order to keep your connection strong.

 

How to Get to Work on Time

Every successful employee has one thing in common: they get to work on time. Bosses like people who get to work on time. They don’t like people who are late all the time.

It helps to prepare for your morning the night before. When you’re ready to turn in for the night, it’s easy to tell yourself that you will be able to get everything for your day ready in the morning. It always seems much harder when you wake up. The clock counts down on you without mercy as you scramble to get out the door.

Here are some things you can do the night before a job to make your morning smoother and get you to work on time.

  • Make a dressing station:
    • Iron your work clothes for the next day and hang them up in one place. Put your shoes under them – ready to throw on. Lay your socks, t-shirts, ties and and/or any other accessories nearby. Now you won’t be making a frenzied search for these items in the early morning while the clock ticks down.
  • Make a food station:
    • Pack your lunch the night before. You may think you will pack it in the morning – not very likely.
    • Get your coffee travel mug, water bottle etc. staged in one area, ready to go.
    • Put water, coffee and a filter in your coffee machine in the evening. In the morning, simply push the button and enjoy the invigorating aroma of some fresh java. Your caffeine fix is on the way!
  • Plan your route:
    • Print out a map of where you are going the night before.
    • For smartphone users, have the address written down somewhere so that you can plug it into your phone’s map program. Don’t rely on just putting it in your phone – it could get deleted.
    • Make a habit of looking at where you are going the night before, and plan out how long it will take you to get from door to door.  Add 15 minutes for delays!

These tips are simple and may seem obvious. But they can help you to avoid being that panic-stricken person sprinting to the Metro in the early morning.