Contacting Potential Employers: Etiquette

So you’re planning on entering the big bad world of work. Your studies are complete, you’ve selected a career to pursue and the time has come to approach employers. With a list of companies and contacts to hand, it’s time to get in touch. But how do you make an approach? How do you get yourself in front of the decision maker and convince them to take you on? Unfortunately there is no magic answer, but there are certainly things you can do to make sure you have the best possible chance of success.

Know your CV…

This is an offensively obvious point to make, but the amount of times that people don’t know what’s on their own CV is startling. We don’t mean you should know roughly what’s on your CV; you need to know it off by heart. An employer needs to find out as soon as possible whether you’re the right candidate or not, and the only thing they have to go on is your CV. As such, expect them to ask questions about specific parts of it.

If you’ve said ‘extensive travel’, know where you went. If you were the treasurer of a student society, what did it entail? If they ask you a question about something on your CV and you hesitate, they will probably question everything else on there. Know your stuff!

Points of contact…

Before you send your CV off or get in touch with employers, make sure you’re ready to be contacted. That means if your email is still, we would urge you to change it to something a little more suitable (even if you do have a particularly impressive level of ‘skillz’).

The same applies to your voicemail. This needs to be a gag-free zone which is accommodating to the sternest of employers. We know a young chap whose voicemail greeting message was: “Check yourself before you wreck yourself. Leave a message.” This is certainly not the way to go!

Similarly, when you receive a call from an unknown number, answer in a clear and professional manner. Answer with a simple “Hello” and say your name clearly. Please, please don’t use one of the following opening statements: “Yellow”, “Wassup!”, “Speak to me”, “Lay it on me sucker!”, “Who the hell is this?”, or “Aaaaaaaarrrggghhh!” Remember, you are a respectable potential employee, not Mr T, Charles Manson or a character from Goodfellas.

Moving onto your ‘digital footprint’. Whether you like it or not, there is a possibility that potential employers will conduct Facebook investigations. If that picture of you in the bar with a keg over your head is currently up, perhaps now is the right time to change it to a more respectable one.

If you dabble with Twitter or any other social network that helps you broadcast your opinions, think wisely about whom might be reading. The potential scenario of getting invited to interview only to see the opportunity disappear because of a rogue ‘tweet’ is something to be avoided, I’m sure you’ll agree!

Making the move…

Whether you’re speculatively getting in touch or responding to an invitation for applications, there are some rules to follow. Firstly, read every last line of text on the recruitment page of the employer’s website. Recruiters can get particularly riled if you start asking questions that are already answered on their site.

As many recruiters are continually bombarded with the same old questions, don’t kick it off on the wrong foot. With that said though, if you have an important (and worthy) question which is not covered on their website or in any of the literature they distribute at careers fairs, do get in touch.

When applying, make sure to follow instructions. If it’s an online application, don’t send a paper CV. If they want you to call, don’t randomly turn up on their doorstep (we meet with recruiters day-in, day-out, and it happens!). Play the game. It will be appreciated.

With anything you send, make sure all of your contact details are provided. If you email for example, take advantage of your signature and pop your number in there too! Make it as easy as possible for them to contact you. Even the slightest difficulty may go against you, as it’s likely that a bunch of other candidates will be very accessible and instantly contactable. Don’t miss the boat because you didn’t include your mobile number!

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