Job search 2.0: Technology etiquette lessons

December 1, 2010

Technology is a job-hunter’s best friend — but only if you use it correctly, says Kate Wendleton, president of The Five O’Clock Club, a career coaching and outplacement network. 

“How you use technology speaks volumes about your skills, your style, your ability to connect with future employers and your manners,” says Wendleton.

“Using the technologies available in the correct way at the correct time can immensely improve your chances of getting a job,” she adds. “Use them inappropriately and you risk coming off as arrogant, insensitive, immature or just careless.”

Here are a few suggestions on proper technology etiquette for job hunters.

  • Make your first impression the old-fashioned way. Surprisingly, snail mail is the best way for hiring managers to recognize you, especially considering the volume of e-mail and spam that people receive. Mailing your materials also allows you to take advantage of layout, quality and design.
  • Send e-mails wisely. E-mail is generally an acceptable form of communication after a meeting. But important follow-ups should always be sent by regular mail as well. E-mail is also ideal for contacting someone who another member of your network recommended. Put the person’s name in the subject line (i.e., “Bob Smith Suggested that I Contact  You”) to get his or her attention.

    “Spend as much time crafting your e-mail as you would a traditional letter,” says Wendleton. “Many readers seek key words or phrases, so they miss a nuance or a key point. Carefully consider how to frame a message.”
  • Use mobile devices in a pinch. “The typical mobile message has at least two typos because it’s composed in a hurry,” warns Wendleton. “ The tone tends to be terse or glib and subject to misinterpretation.” 

    A mobile device may undercut your credibility. If you must use a mobile device, then always proofread.

    In addition, limit your cell phone use. Cell phone sound quality and transmission are unreliable, and background noise is ubiquitous.

    “[Only] use your cell phone to get in touch with a recruiter quickly,” says Wendleton. “If you don’t have a landline, then make sure you are in a place where you have consistently great reception and schedule your interview for a time when you can be in a quiet location.”

    Also, she recommends always carrying a pen and a pad so that you can easily write down any information that you might need.
  • Avoid instant messaging, Internet directories and social networks for first-time communications. Seeking out a hiring manager via IM is considered extremely intrusive and should be off-limits to job seekers. This is also true for social networking. 
  • Network through LinkedIn and other sites. LinkedIn and other social media platforms provide a 21st-century way to build up your professional network when used appropriately.
  • Exercise your best judgment. Too many factors go into a successful job-hunt strategy for there to be the same advice for every candidate. In other words,  Wendleton says, there are always occasions where it’s OK to deviate from the rules.

    “Carefully considering your options in any given situation is the best way to successfully navigate the crowded job market,” she says.


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