No doubt that a job search can be a stressful and trying time. But in your quest to land a good job, be cautious not to be so self absorbed that you burn bridges with people who could influence your career.
In today’s highly interconnected world, people within an industry are separated by just a few degrees.
"If you mishandle a situation, and etiquette skills get lost in the shuffle, it just might affect you negatively down the road," says Barbara Pachter, a business etiquette and communications speaker based in New Jersey and author of "The Essentials of Business Etiquette: How to Greet, Eat, and Tweet Your Way to Success."
Common faux pas in the job search involve everything from how you approach openings to how you respectfully turn down an offer. Here are some tips to consider.
Using unusual tactics
You want to stand apart but not for the wrong reasons. Pachter notes some people have tried walking the streets wearing sandwich boards to advertise their job search and others have worn T-shirts announcing that they are looking for work. Though the tactics may catch people’s attention, they don’t reflect well on your professionalism. Don’t take chances on them.
You’ve heard this time and time again: Always send thank you notes after interviews. Some experts recommend sending a hand-written note. Pachter says send an email as soon as possible instead. Snail mail can take several days to arrive. The time difference is crucial if a hiring decision is being made quickly.
Accepting a job interview
Don’t accept a job interview, particularly one that involves reimbursable travel, if you are certain that you don’t want the job. If you do accept it and later have second thoughts, don’t cancel at the last minute. Give your contact plenty of time. Managers can tell if you are not genuinely interested in their company and just wasting their time and money.
Turning down an offer
You don’t need to respond immediately to a job offer. Take your time and think about it for a few days. Should you decide that you don’t want the job, use the same vehicle of communication use for the offer to turn it down. So if you received a call, you should call the hiring manager rather than, say, send an email.
Pachter says it’s OK to turn down an offer. Hiring managers get annoyed when candidates accept offers and then change their minds days before they’re scheduled to start or on their first day.
"That’s when you’ll really annoy people and tarnish your reputation," she says.