Applying Etiquette to Technology in Your Job Search by Theresa Kim, BMC, ’01
Theresa Kim, BMC, ’01 majored in Mathematics and French, and then earned an MS in Biostatistics from the University of WA School of Public Health and Community Medicine in 2006. She works as a project manager and statistician for The Center for the Study of Health and Risk Behaviors, a psychiatry and behavioral sciences research group with the University of WA in Seattle. Theresa also serves as the local Bryn Mawr alumnae club president and career development representative in Seattle, WA. Based on personal experience, she offers the following advice to job seekers.
When I graduated from Bryn Mawr ten years ago, technology was a small part of the job application process. Today, online applications are de rigueur, cell phone numbers and email addresses are part of everyone’s resume, and employers have access to an applicant’s online profile. On the one hand, these technologies have improved the application process. On the other hand, it is imperative that your digital identity not detract from your prospects.
I’ve been on both ends of the recruiting spectrum. I’ve submitted resumes and cover letters to apply for a number of jobs. In my current position, I’m responsible for reviewing applicants’ materials and for hiring. Here are my tips on how you can use technology wisely to be successful in your job search.
1. Resume. Before writing a resume, take a moment to search online to find a format that you like. To state the obvious, make sure that your resume and cover letter (or any other job application materials required) are free of grammatical and spelling errors. Print them out before you submit them, and actually read them aloud, as grammar and spell check tools can still miss a few things. Save your resume as a .PDF before submitting, as formatting may change.
2. Email. One’s email address actually reveals a lot about a person. An academic email address is always acceptable. Personal email addresses are fine, but make sure they are professional- or at least neutral-sounding. Addresses such as email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org send a message to a recruiter that you do not take yourself seriously as an adult, and neither will she or he.
When you email people, use a friendly and confident tone. I welcome messages from applicants, and I try to answer them as promptly as possible. Occasionally I need a reminder, and I do believe that the squeaky wheel gets the grease. A reminder perhaps one week after your first email is very reasonable. However, badgering emails to recruiters that are all in caps are not going to get you anywhere. Since applying online is the nearly universal policy among companies, the best advice I can give is to apply online and then send no more than two follow-up emails to a recruiter.
3. Digital image. What is your online persona? Technology can be image damaging. If you are not receiving any phone interviews despite having fantastic resumes and cover letters, it is time to take a look at your digital reputation. Nothing is private anymore. Even if your Facebook, Twitter, and Blog accounts are “friends-only,” it is possible that a potential employer has seen these compromising photographs and posts. The untag option is a fantastic tool, as are friend filters and groups. Recruiters often Google candidates they want to interview. It is possible that you did not get a phone call because someone found a compromising photograph of you on MySpace. Photographs of you holding your new nephew at Thanksgiving are fine. The tweet that you posted calling your professor an offensive name is not. Post wisely.
4. Cell phone. Many people are using cell phones as their primary—or only–telephone number. What is your outgoing voicemail message? When I call you for an interview, it will help me to pronounce your name correctly if you state it in your announcement. A woman’s voice stating only her phone number is not helpful to me; it does not confirm that I have dialed the right number. Your outgoing message should be neutral, professional, and brief. Stating your name and your request for a message is all you need; ditto for when you leave a message in my voice mailbox. And don’t forget to leave your telephone number, slowly, and a second time.
5. Finally, you can use technology wisely to your job searching advantage. Many recruiters now post positions on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter. LinkedIn is generally accepted as the professional networking site, so create an account and update it whenever you acquire a new job or experience. Follow organizations and companies that interest you over these networking sites as some recruiters post positions and community events there. Join alumni groups (past places you have worked, volunteered, or studied) and connect with as many people as possible. In the end, technology should enhance your job searching experience, not become a liability.