- Impress prospective employers by being respectful and flexible.
- Such niceties will give you an edge.
It’s amazing and somewhat sad, but in today’s world, if you use common courtesy when dealing with prospective employers, you’ll more than likely give yourself an edge over the many other candidates who fail to do so.
I realize this seemingly obvious concept is somewhat hard to believe, but it’s true. In many ways, we now see so little common courtesy in our respect-starved culture that when we do see it, we’re almost stunned by it and most certainly remember it. So as you deal with prospective employers, do the right thing — and make yourself stand out from the crowd — by demonstrating your class.
Thank Employers for Their Interest
According to one estimate, only about 10 percent of job seekers bother to send thank-you notes to prospective employers after the interviews. You’ve asked for and received someone’s time and energy, so the least you can do is say thank you. When you do, you’ll be seen as one of the few candidates who shows care for others — not a bad message to send.
Be Respectful to Everyone You Meet
The administrative assistant you see when you first show up for an interview is just as important and deserving of your respect as the CEO and everyone else in between. So be polite. Make small talk with the assistant and be genuine about it. If he asks you if you want a cup of coffee, say, "Yes, please." If he offers to take your coat, say, "That would be great. Thank you." Impress the assistant with your uncommon graciousness, and your stock will rise in the company’s eyes.
Do What You Say You’ll Do
If you’re in an interview and you say, "I can send you a sample of my work after I get home today," follow through on your promise. If you state in your cover letter, "I will contact you in one week to set up an interview for the position," contact the person in one week — not two days, two weeks or, much worse, not at all. If a prospective employer sees you following through before you even have the job, then he can reasonably conclude you’ll follow through on the job as well.
Respect People’s Time
In today’s work world, time has become a cherished commodity. Most everyone has too much to do and too little time. So if you’ve scheduled an interview, be on time. Arrive exactly five minutes ahead of time. Meanwhile, if you call an employer, ask, "Do you have a moment to talk right now?" before launching into what you want to say. Give the person a chance to reschedule the conversation if he’s in the middle of something more important. He’ll appreciate that you honor his time.
Most things in life don’t go exactly according to plan, especially in the work world. The interviewer who shows up 10 minutes late for your interview, for example, probably had to "put out a fire" and didn’t intend to keep you waiting. And the person you drove 100 miles to meet with more than likely didn’t want to be sick when he knew you were coming such a long way to see him. So demonstrate that you’re willing to cut people some slack. If the plan changes at the last minute, roll with it. Employers know that the people who succeed in business are the ones who are flexible and can deal with the daily curve balls life tends to throw.
At the end of the classic movie, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, Willy Wonka gives his entire factory to young Charlie Bucket after Charlie returns the valuable Everlasting Gobstopper candy he received during the factory tour rather than selling it to a rival candy maker. "So shines a good deed in a weary world," Wonka whispers after Charlie’s selfless gesture. The common courtesy you display probably won’t earn you a chocolate factory, but it will distinguish you as one of the few job candidates whose actions match their words and, therefore, will be most likely to succeed on the job.