RISMEDIA, November 10, 2010—We may be in recovery, but if you’re one of the millions of Americans still unemployed, it’s hard to tell. And if you’ve been burning up cyberspace with your job search—e-mailing, texting, and “friending” potential employers until your fingers are numb—you may be convinced there’s just no work out there. But have you considered that you might be going about it all wrong? Technology is a job hunter’s friend—but only if you use it correctly, says Kate Wendleton. Break the unspoken rules of job search techno-etiquette and all you’ll accomplish is getting your virtual résumé dragged into the trash.
“How you use technology speaks volumes about your skills, your style, your ability to connect with future employers, and your manners,” says Wendleton, president of The Five O’Clock Club (www.fiveoclockclub.com), a premier career coaching and outplacement network.
Wendleton offers the following suggestions on how proper technology etiquette can help job hunters.
Make your first impression the old-fashioned way. In an age where e-mailing and texting seem to be the preferred methods of communication, it may come as a surprise that snail mail is actually the best way to get recognized by hiring managers. But when you consider that all businesspeople get too much e-mail and spam these days, it makes perfect sense. When hiring managers get an unsolicited e-mail that they don’t recognize, they may well hit “delete” without ever opening it, says Wendleton. The solution? Drop your letter and résumé in the mailbox.
E-mail is best for follow-up and networking. E-mail is generally viewed as acceptable for communication after a meeting. It’s fine for when you want to send a link to showcase your work or indicate a relevant article reflecting the content of your conversation. But important follow-ups should always be sent by snail mail as well, to assure that the formatting will be correct and the letter won’t get lost in cyberspace. E-mail is also ideal for contacting someone recommended by a member of your network. Put the person’s name in the subject line (e.g.,”Bob Smith Suggested That I Contact You”) to be sure you are not automatically deleted.
When following up after a job interview: Think strategy. In the old days, the question for job hunters was, “Should I follow up by phone or letter?” Today, they likely ask, “Should I follow up by phone or e-mail?” Actually, the issue of follow-up is far more complex than which mode of communication you plan to use. Your routine should also involve thinking and strategizing about what form of follow-up will be best for the organization or person you will be contacting.
Use mobile devices only in a pinch. For too many of us in the fast-paced 21stcentury world, our cell phones and other portable communication devices are like our high-tech appendages. But when it comes to your job hunt, it’s time to amputate.
To sell yourself to potential employers, don’t “cell” yourself. We all use cell phones so we all know the drawbacks. Sound quality and consistent transmission are iffy, and background noise is ubiquitous. So The Five O’Clock Club recommends that you never use a cell phone for telephone interviews or other phone communication, even if it’s just a cursory screening interview. The interviewer could easily miss words, lose the tone of your voice, or not hear your emphasis on a critical question. And you may not be able to communicate energy or enthusiasm without shouting.
Don’t call your interviewers on their cells, either. Never make an initial or introductory call to a hiring manager’s cell phone. In contrast to landlines, everyone still perceives their mobile phones to be as private as their home phones. It is the ultimate intrusion—the ultimate audio spam—to receive an unsolicited call from a job hunter on one’s cell phone. The same holds true for texting. It virtually guarantees a negative result.
For first-time communication, always avoid instant messaging, Internet directories, and social networks. Instant messaging is a permission-based concept. People invite others of their choosing to interrupt them with instant messages. Rarely are job candidates invited to use this technology by prospective employers. Seeking out and finding a hiring manager via IM is considered extremely rude and intrusive and should be off-limits to job seekers. The same holds true for social networking.
Network through LinkedIn and other sites. LinkedIn.com provides you with a 21st century way to build up your professional network. Just as you should consider other passive techniques such as contacting search firms and answering ads, LinkedIn should be on your list of job searching strategies.
Always use your best judgment. This may not seem like much advice at all, but the reality is there are just too many factors that go into creating a successful job hunt strategy for there to be the same hard and true advice for every candidate. In other words, there are always occasions where it’s okay, or even advisable, to break the rules.
“When it comes down to it, you must assess the risks of your decisions and do what is right for you,” says Wendleton. “If you receive consistently positive responses to the e-mails you send to interviewers, then e-mail away. If you trust your cell phone and don’t like the idea of waiting around all day by your landline for a prospective employer to call, then put your cell number on your résumé. Use trial and error to find out what is and isn’t working in your job search and eventually you will create a sound strategy that will steer you toward great opportunities.”