Every season, a new flock of college grads enter the work world for the first time with fresh ideas and limited experience. These days they are likely to encounter even more competition for jobs from stay-at-home moms going back to work and seasoned professionals who were recently laid off. So how does a rookie prospect stand out in the interview pool from the more experienced candidate? Sometimes a little professional and social etiquette can make even the most inexperienced candidate stand out. Offering tips to success through simple etiquette is etiquette expert Barbara Pachter of Pachter & Associates.
Barbara Pachter is an internationally renowned business etiquette expert, speaker, coach and author with a client list boasting of some of the most notable organizations like Microsoft, Chrysler, NASA and Citigroup. She has published 8 books including her newest release, New Rules@Work: 79 Etiquette Tips, Tools and Techniques to Get Ahead and Stay Ahead, and has been featured in national news and magazines like Real Simple, O Magazine, USA Today, Cosmopolitan and The Washington Post. With a background in corporate training, Ms. Pachter moved back to New Jersey and started her Cherry Hill based company where she has been leading people to success for over twenty years.
"It's wonderful to help people be successful," commented Ms. Pachter.
And it is wonderful to know that there are New Jersey entrepreneurs who are working to help others succeed. It's my pleasure to have Ms. Pachter share her TOP 7 business and social etiquette tips. Throughout the year, I'll run posts with more valuable tools from Ms. Pachter from advice on appropriate attire on Casual Fridays to what to say in an interview.
You may also want to take this opportunity to join her upcoming Dining Webinar on September 22 from 11:30am-12:30pm. Just when you thought business meals we actually for eating, they are really to GET DEALS DONE! And simple manners can MAKE OR BREAK the deal. Pachter's books (shown above) are also available for purchase at her website.
Q: Have traditional etiquette rules changed or relaxed?
A: Etiquette evolves as the workplace changes. For example, there are more women in the business world today than ever before and as a result, when you take the social rules and bring them into the workplace, there can be consequences that work against both men and women. Etiquette helped define the new ways that men and women are interacting in the today’s workplace.
Q: What are your tips for people entering the job world for the first time?
1. BE ON TIME. You’ll look uninterested and inconsiderate of others when you show up late. You want to arrive on time for work or to attend a meeting--and being early is even better. One mentor told his new hire, “A lot of decisions are made in the five minutes before the start of the meeting. You’ll want to be there.”
2. DRESS APPROPRIATELY. It’s not enough to look professional for the interview. You need to look like a professional, whether in business or business casual clothing, every day. Your clothes need to fit, be clean and pressed. Look at what successful people in your company are wearing. You can usually model yourself after them.
3. GREET PEOPLE. You usually don’t know a lot of people when you are first starting a job, yet that is not a reason not to greet them. A young sales representative was horrified to learn that the man he barely acknowledged in the elevator was the company’s CEO. As you walk the hallways, stand in the lunch line, or ride the elevator, make an effort to say “hi” or “good morning” to your co-workers. You’ll seem more confident and create a more pleasant work environment when you do.
4. DO MORE THAN EXPECTED OF YOU. Naturally it’s important to do your job and do it well, but you also want to get noticed. Doing more than expected of you is one way to have others see you as a competent person. One young woman would ask her supervisor, “Is there anything I can do to help you?” She has moved quickly up the corporate ladder. Go out of your way to help others when you can and volunteer for additional assignments. You will look like a team player and get to meet more people.
5. DON’T ADVERTISE YOUR INEXPERIENCE. Young people can keep saying “I’ve never done this before.” or “This is all new for me.” You don’t need to remind people how new or inexperienced you are. You want people to view you as a capable person and reminding them of your inexperience creates a different image. One woman put the letter KYMS (Keep your mouth shut!) at the back of her desk to remind her to keep quiet about her lack of experience. Also do not negate compliments. If someone tells you that you did a good job, say “thank you.”
6. LISTEN TO OTHERS. You can’t learn what others know when you’re talking. Listen more than you speak. Eventually though, if you don’t speak up, you can become invisible. Just make sure that when you do speak, you don’t sound like a know-it-all. Your questions need to be relevant and your comments worthwhile.
7. TAKE BUSINESS SOCIAL SITUATIONS SERIOUSLY. Activities held outside the office, such as dinners in restaurants, holiday parties or meetings at conferences, are still business and your behavior matters. Attend, mingle and don’t get drunk. You will meet more people and learn more about your company when you do.
Q: What are your top 5 email etiquette rules?
A: I have 7:
- Double check that you have selected the right recipient. Pay attention when typing a name from your address book in the "TO" line. It's easy to select the wrong person.
- Add the email address last. You don’t want to send an email before you have finished writing and proofing it. Even when you are replying to a message, it’s a good precaution to delete the address and insert it once you are sure the message is ready to be sent.
- Use a professional email address. “Hotmama@...” “Diva@...” or “the sexyone@...” are not appropriate addresses.
- Do not come across abrupt--unless you knowingly want to. Read your message out loud. If it sounds harsh to you, it will sound harsh to the reader. You’ll seem friendlier if you use a salutation.
- Make your message easy to read. Looks count. Vary the length of your sentences and paragraphs. Long sentences or paragraphs are more difficult to read.
- Be cautious with humor. You can bomb badly. Something perceived as funny when spoken may come across very differently when written.
- Proofread every message. Mistakes will be noticed and, depending upon the recipient, you will be judged for making them.