Graduate gaffes

17 May 2011

London, 17 May 2011 - Universities have almost finished for the year, but class is always in session when it comes to the job search. As new graduates prepare to enter the work world, they should pay as much attention to technology “etiquette” as they do promoting their mastery of technology. Phil Sheridan, managing director of Robert Half UK, offers insight into how to avoid six common faux pas when launching a career.

“Never before has it been so important to have a firm grasp of social media in the job hunt,” Sheridan said. “While most recent graduates will likely have used new media for several years, an unprofessional online post or mobile device misstep can harm their chances in landing a sought-after role.” Sheridan and the career experts at Robert Half identify six of the biggest technology etiquette errors and tips to avoid them on the job hunt:

  1. Posting imprudently. Employers often turn to the Web for information about job applicants. Polish and protect your reputation by using a combination of good judgment, adequate privacy settings and the delete button. Remove indiscriminate photos and questionable content from social media sites, blogs and chats. Think strategically about what you share, post and tweet going forward.
  2. Leaving your bio blank. Professional networking sites such as LinkedIn provide space to summarise who you are and what you’re looking for in a job or career. An incomplete profile is a missed opportunity. Craft one highlighting your relevant work history and accomplishments, internships, education, community activities and student group or professional association memberships. Help employers find you by using key industry terms when describing your skills, objectives and positions of interest.
  3. Corresponding carelessly. Email is a more casual medium, but the rules of writing still apply. Proofread your job application materials and emails diligently. Hot job prospects can cool quickly if your message is littered with typos or texting shorthand.
  4. Adopting an ‘all about me’ attitude. Networking sites make it easy to reach out for job leads, introductions, recommendations and general career assistance. That said, you won’t get far if you inundate contacts with requests but rarely return the favour. Be gracious when asking for help, offer prompt appreciation and look for ways to reciprocate. Paying it forward is a great way to build professional goodwill.
  5. Experiencing technical difficulties. More companies are interviewing promising long-distance candidates using software applications like Skype. Before a video meeting, do a trial run with a friend to make sure your webcam and microphone are working properly. This also will help you fix any lighting issues or distracting background elements. For phone interviews, make sure you have a strong mobile signal if you don’t have access to a landline.
  6. Misusing mobile devices during interviews. Be smart with your smartphone: Turn it off. Loudly chatting on the phone or listening to your iPod as you wait for the interviewer is inconsiderate. While it should go without saying, never respond to a call or text message during the actual interview. And don’t text a hiring manager after the meeting -- pick up the phone or send an email if you haven’t heard back within a couple of weeks.   

For additional etiquette tips on using professional and social networking sites, mobile devices, email, instant messaging, web conferencing and more, download Robert Half’s comprehensive guide, Business Etiquette: The New Rules in a Digital Age, at www.roberthalf.co.uk