Job Search Etiquette: Common Mistakes, Part 1

With the spring semester getting into full swing, your search for internships and jobs is, hopefully, moving to the next, very desirable, phase: from sending out resumes and cover letters to receiving invitations to interviews. Start maximizing your chances of being hired by doing a little self-check of your knowledge and practice of job search etiquette. Today, we’ll talk about 3 common mistakes that you don’t want to make when you are waiting to hear from prospective employers.

Mistake 1: Having an inappropriate voice mail greeting on your phone: jokes, jingles, or preserving your baby voice for posterity, etc.

When employers want to invite you to an interview, they will most likely contact you by phone. They are interested in you as a professional, and you want to come across as a professional, starting with your voice mail greeting. So, please review your greeting and re-record it if necessary. I wouldn’t recommend using auto (standard) greeting. It is courteous to assure people, in your own voice, that they have in fact reached your phone, and not just a phone number. Keep your greeting short and nice:  e.g. “You have reached the voice mail of Anna Litman. Please leave your name, your phone number and a brief message and I will call you back as soon as I can. Thank you.” One trick of the trade:  to make your voice sound pleasant, try smiling when you record your new greeting.

Mistake 2: Checking your voice mail messages irregularly.  

The employer called you on Wednesday and left a message inviting you to an interview, but you only checked your messages during the weekend. By then, they may have already crossed you off from the list of candidates. Actually, even a 1-day delay in responding to the voice mail message from your prospective employer inviting you to an interview may seriously jeopardize your hiring prospects. The employer will think that you are not interested in the opportunity! Don’t forget to check your voice mail messages a few times a day.

Mistake 3: Using the “call back” function on your phone to return the prospective employer’s call.

It’s already midnight and you are checking your voice messages for the day because you don’t want to make Mistake 2.  Hooray! They’ve called! They are inviting you to a job interview! You want to respond right away and leave a message in the employer’s office voice mail informing them that you are happily accepting the invitation! You press “Call Back” and, instead of “you have reached the office of..” you hear the disgruntled voice of the last person on Earth you want to disgruntle. Oh, no!

People can make business call from their personal phones, which doesn’t give us an excuse to call their personal numbers. So, don’t use the call back function unless you are 100 % sure that this is the employer’s office number.


Avoid making these mistakes, and happy interviewing, everyone!!!