Business Etiquette 101: The Basics of Professionalism
By Jul DeGeus
The job search process can be excruciatingly overwhelming. It’s easy to find yourself stressing out over things like creating a flawless resume and preparing the perfect answers to interview questions.
But for most job hunters, one career prep subject seems to fly under the radar: business etiquette. There’s actually a week, June 5-11th, just to try to draw attention to those who are unaware.
Knowing and practicing proper business etiquette could be a determining factor in the hiring process. It might be hard for a company to choose between two candidates that have similar qualifications. Unless, of course, one of the contenders has displayed the mastery of the art of business etiquette. So, grasshopper, here are some skill sets to set you apart from the rest:
Make the Introduction
Career Services Coordinator at our Centura Chesapeake campus, Sheryl Stevens, knows the importance of first impressions in the business world. Stevens, who holds regular workshops to prepare Centura College students for their future career, firmly believes in the 7/11 theory:
Within the first seven seconds that someone meets you, they make 11 decisions about you. How was your hand shake? Are you maintaining eye contact? This tells employers about your confidence. Are you smiling? Are you dressed well? This lets people know if you are approachable and presentable. Every person’s 11 decisions are different, but you want to make sure that you are presenting your best to ensure that employers’ decisions about you are positive.
To have a successful introduction and obtain a positive first impression in seven seconds, come up with and rehearse a simple introduction. After a salutation, include your first and last name, smile while making eye contact and shake hands. A professional handshake should be firm, leaving no space between the webs of the shaker’s thumbs. When leaving, don’t be afraid to mention your full name one more time to remind the employer of who you are.
A slice of advice: When you are established in the workplace and there is a new person in the office or are with a friend and someone approaches you, always make an introduction. It is better to introduce people who have already met before than to hold a conversation with one person and ignore the other.
Mind Your TechNOlogy
The technological advances we have made over the past 20 years are astounding. The ease of accessing important information simply by using a smart phone has quicken the pace of the world. But when it comes to using technology in a business setting, it is important to remember that there are some restrictions.
When entering a meeting or interview, turn off or leave unnecessary electronics elsewhere. Be careful about using tablets, smart watches and laptops in appointments, as they can give off the perception that you are not paying attention. Once employed, read up on the rules and regulations regarding personal devices to makes sure you adhering to company policies.
Keep Communication Flowing
Maybe you’ve got really exciting news. Or maybe the person you are talking to has sparked a brilliant, life-changing idea. Perhaps the information that you are hearing is incorrect. Regardless of what the reason is, resist the urge to butt in when someone is speaking. Simply wait for them to finish, then add your input to the conversation. If, for urgent reasons, you have to interrupt, politely interject with “excuse me.”
Likewise, if there is a meeting or Q & A session at work, make sure that you are not talking so much that others cannot get a word in. Also try to talk about or ask things that everyone in the meeting will benefit from. Specific questions that deal directly with you or only a small section of the group meeting should be asked individually or if there is extra time.
PROOF READ, PROOF READ, PROOF READ
There’s nothing worse than putting “atention to detail” on a resume, sending it out and never hearing back from employers. What went wrong? You are so qualified! Well, having a tiny mistake, such as misspelling “attention”, could cost you a callback. Avoid these errors by having multiple people look over your resumes, cover letters, emails, etc. before sending them out. It’s always nice to have a fresh sets of eyes!
Watch Your Language
Some people are able to adjust their vocabulary based upon their environment. This is an extremely important skill to have, especially when entering a new work place. To be safe, avoid any topics or language that could be dubbed as controversial.
And just like your parents taught you, don’t forget your “please” and “thank you’s.” A little gratitude goes a long way in the work place. These simple statements of appreciation can build respect and admiration from your peers and leaders.
So there you have it, Grasshopper; the stealthy skills to make you a business etiquette master.
Want a lesson in business etiquette? Centura Chesapeake will be hosting two workshops, Wednesday, June 7th, at 11:00 AM and 6:15 PM. Centura Chesapeake is located at 932 Ventures Way, Chesapeake, VA, 23320. For more information, call 757.549.2121.
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