Marie Raperto, The Hiring Hub
Office etiquette can be exasperating. With more relaxed working environments and telecommuting, some rules are being written while some are staying the same. The old adage about watching what was done is harder since we are not all together in one office anymore. Technologies are changing daily and our workforce is more multicultural and global. The following is an update on what’s ok in today’s working world.
1. Social Media: Unless it’s part of your job, stay off of it during working hours and be careful what you post. Nothing is ‘personal and confidential’ any longer. Never post anything negative about your company or colleagues. Remember, the company has a right to watch what you have been doing on their equipment and on their time. More and more firms are checking on employees throughout their employment, not just as part of the hiring process.
2. Telephone Calls: Turn your cell phone off during any meetings. If your cell phone rings at work and you must answer it, think about where you are. If people are nearby, move to an area where you won’t be overheard or bother other workers nearby. There is an unofficial 10 foot rule – if you must take a call in a meeting, excuse yourself and move to at least 10 feet away. Find a place to take the call, don’t roam the hallways. Remember to keep your voice down. If you can’t hear each other, call back another time. Get rid of the ‘fun’ ringtone, it’s not professional. Do not take personal calls in the reception area or cafeteria.
3. Email: Your work email should be formal in nature. These are office correspondence and should be written as if you were writing on company letterhead. Your work email should contain your information such as name, title, phone etc. Remember, email is taking the place of letters so the same information should be there.
4. Headphones: Wearing headphones all day (unless it is part of your job) can seem antisocial. If you are playing music to help you concentrate and the office allows it, use your headphones but limit the time spent plugged in.
5. Cubicles: The new open offices provide a very informal atmosphere. Wandering over to visit a colleague can be rude. Always check first. No matter how small or how open, it’s someone’s personal space. Respect it.
6. Germs: Germs spread quicker in open environments so, if you are sick, stay home. Your coughing fit not only affects your productivity, it affects everyone in an open office.
7. Smells: Aromas of perfumes and foods take over an open environment. Keep your lunches in the kitchen areas and your personal fragrances to a minimum. Someone with an allergy could avoid your office but they will not be spared in an open environment.
8. Dress: With different industries adopting different dress rules, it’s best to “dress like the rest.” For career advancement, dress like management. For interviewing, it’s a corporate look. If you are visiting a client’s office, dress in your corporate best. It’s a show of respect to your client.
9. Computer use: Security is a big issue for many companies and most have computer use policies. Follow the rules and keep your job search activities to your home/personal computer. The same goes for those last-minute gifts. If your mobile phone is company property, computer use rules apply.
10. Multicultural: If you don’t know how to address someone or pronounce their names, ask. If you are working in a global environment, etiquette will differ from country to country. Global associates might run late for meetings, not want to discuss anything personal or prefer to be called by a professional title. Watch, listen and ask.
11. Gender: Working with a transgender person and wondering what pronoun to use? Use the pronoun that reflects what the person is wearing or ask. It’s up to what a person prefers. When in doubt, ASK.
12. Getting Back: We are a 24/7 world. While we all deserve some time off, it is important to get back to someone within 24 hours.
Making a good first impression on a job interview is a must.
Dressing the part is the first step. It doesn’t matter if everyone working in the company wears jeans, unless you are specifically told to dress a certain way, follow these rules:
Men: Wear a dark, solid suit. A white or coordinated long-sleeve shirt. A belt, a tie, dark socks and conservative, polished shoes. Have a haircut before your interview and a manicure if possible. Carry a briefcase or portfolio. If your office is business casual, make sure you tell the recruiter so they can let the hiring manager know. Business casual does not mean jeans and a tee shirt.
Women: Wear a conservative suit. If you wear a dress or skirt, make sure it’s long enough so that you don’t have to tug at it. Wear a coordinated blouse and conservative polished shoes. Limit your jewelry (nothing that makes noise or bracelets that can hit a desk). Go with neat hair, light makeup, very light or no perfume and manicured nails. Carry a portfolio or briefcase.
Don’ts: Do not wear anything that might be considered controversial. Do not have your resume and samples dumped into a tote or shopping bag. Do not leave your cell phone on. Do not have wrinkled or stained clothes.
Do’s: Do give your shoes a quick dust off. Do check your hair before entering the building. Do have a breath mint or candy before the interview. Do bring a small bottle of water in case your throat gets dry. Do ask to use the restroom before the receptionist announces you.
True Blue or Aggressive Red. How color can help your interview.
Since over 80% of communication is nonverbal, color might just be one more item to consider. Color won’t make up for an inappropriate background but it might help send the positive vibes you want. Here is a list of colors and what they convey according to the article:
Blue. Darker shades of blue, especially navy, will help you project an image of someone in control. From the interviewer’s point of view, the color blue conjures up calm, stability, trust, truth, confidence and security.
Gray. This is the second most popular color to wear for an interview. It’s not a distracting color to the interviewer so they will be more focused on you. Gray denotes sophistication.
Black. This is a commanding color and represents authority. Black can also connote drama so use it carefully – perhaps as an accent
Red. An extremely powerful color, it’s so strong you should only use it as an accent color. Reds are associated with energy, passion, desire, power and aggression.
White. White shirts and skirts are a safe bet. White sends the message of simplicity, cleanliness, precision and goodness.
In a competitive job market, it pays to take advantage of every opportunity to improve. Choosing the right color might also make you feel more confident.