Job Hunting Etiquette

Last week, a group of new graduates dropped by our office and asked if there were any job vacancies.  Our receptionist told them that they can leave their resumes and she’ll hand it to the HR department.  Surprisingly, they did not have any resumes with them— Yikes! This is like entering a battlefield without any weapons!

One of them, however, volunteered to come back on the same day since his house is near our office.  So he rushed to get his resume and came back within an hour.  When our receptionist asked for his resume, he took out his USB memory stick and said it was inside.  He then asked if he could have it printed in our office— Double yikes!  This is like asking your opponent to make your weapon for you!

Our receptionist nicely informed him that she cannot do that for him.  He’ll have to bring a printed copy to our office if he wants to drop off his resume and apply.  So he went down to the print shop, had his resume printed and went back to submit it.  He was then given a job application form to fill out.  Then he asked our receptionist, “Can I borrow your pen?”  — Triple yikes!  This is like bringing a weapon without bullets!

When I heard about this, I couldn’t help but be amused, but I also felt sad.  Obviously, these new graduates were not trained well for job hunting.  This lack of training will hamper their quest for a good job and it will waste their time, effort and resources.

So for those of you, who have not been given good guidance on job hunting, let me share some basic etiquette and tips that will make your job hunting more efficient and let you appear more professional.

Send a Message When You Email Resumes

If you want to apply via email, be sure to type in a short message indicating your intention of applying for a particular position.   This shows that you can communicate in a professional manner and with proper etiquette.  More importantly, the recruitment officer will immediately know what position you are interested in, which will then minimize the guess work.  If you just attach your resume and send the email without a message, there’s a chance that your application might be misplaced or ignored.  Some recruitment officers immediately delete resumes without cover letters or email messages.  So better be safe than sorry.

Bring Your Job Hunting Kit

Prepare a job hunting kit or clear book with copies of your resume, transcript of records, medical certificate, NBI clearance, ID photos and pens.  If you have a portfolio of projects that you have been involved in, add that to the kit.

When you get called in for an interview, bring this kit.  You will find it very handy particularly if the recruitment officer didn’t print a copy of your emailed resume.  Plus, it will save you the trouble of going back and forth like the young graduate mentioned above who tried to apply in our company.

Bring a Presentable Resume

Back in my time, we submitted printed resumes on crisp linen paper with a neat folder or envelop.  If you can spend a little on nice paper, you can still do this so that your resume can stand out from the pile of resumes that recruitment officers go through.  But skip the perfume or make sure that your paper does not smell of moth balls.  I swear, whenever I encounter a resume that has a strong scent, I get a headache.

Research about the Company You are Applying For

Before you go for an interview, it will help to know what the company does.  You can easily do this by googling and checking out the website of the company.  While you are at it, you can even formulate smart questions that you can ask the interviewer.  This will show the recruitment officer that you take time to prepare and get to know potential employers.  It proves that you are not just interested in getting any job, but you are seriously interested in the company that you will eventually work for.

Dress in Smart Business Casual Attire

How you should dress for an interview depends on the company and position you are applying for.   If you are applying in a traditional organization, better dress in conservative business attire.  If you are applying in a dynamic and youthful organization, you can dress in more relaxed attire, but be sure you look presentable in decent clothing.  If you are commuting, it is also best to bring a grooming or “kikay” kit.  Bring a small towel or even an extra shirt to wipe off your sweat and other grooming aids that you can use to freshen up.  You should always look your best when you want to impress.

Confident Handshake and Warm Greeting

If you are not yet comfortable shaking hands with people because you have never really done so in school, it is time to learn now.  Practice shaking people’s hands with a moderately strong grip.  Be sure to smile so that you will warm up the interviewer.  If it helps, do this in front of a mirror.

Also, be polite when addressing people.  If for instance, the name of the interviewer is Anne.  Call her Ms. Anne to show respect.

Thank you

After the interview, if you want to be remembered, you can send a text or email message thanking the interviewer for the time and opportunity.  People used to do this back in the old days.  It’s called courtesy.  But this practice is so uncommon nowadays, that you are sure to make an impression with this simple effort.

Minding Your Manners

Recruitment officers do not just look at the skills and educational background of job applicants.  They also look at the attitude and breeding of a person which is apparent in one’s etiquette.  So don’t forget to mind your manners all the time!


About the Author:

Jhoanna O. Gan-So is president of Businessmaker Academy and HR Club Philippines.  Her organization offers public seminars and in-house training on Human Resource Management and Business Skills Development.   You may email your comments and questions to: