[Noozhawk's note: Fourth in a series. Click here for a related article.]
Most people don’t think about their digital images when they start job hunting. As a result, they make poor impressions.
Talk about sending the wrong message! What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you get an e-mail from firstname.lastname@example.org? Is this an egomaniac? Is this person a personal trainer? It sends all kinds of unprofessional thoughts through my head! On the other hand, a message from TomKnoley@TK.com appears professional and appropriate for someone looking for a new job. Need I ask which will impress a potential employer more? So, if you have a nutty e-mail address, change it to something more professional!
Most of the students with whom I work are always surprised that etiquette has anything to do with emails! But in business, email etiquette is essential. Here are some guidelines to follow.
» Subject line is to inform the purpose of the email. Keep it brief and relevant to content.
» Content should be on the formal side while always using a salutation, such as: “Dear Mr. King.”
» Always use a surname rather than a first name until advised a first-name basis is acceptable. This may be advised purely by a return signature.
» Don’t shout! Using all UPPER-CASE LETTERS is considered CYBER SHOUTING!
» Remember no email is private! Discuss private matters in person or by phone.
» Always employ the 24-hour rule when sending an emotion-packed message. Cool down and be sure to re-read your message before sending.
» Always proofread all messages before sending.
» Use a signature line containing your first and last name, company (if applicable) and contact information at the end of every email. This is helpful to the recipient to contact you in other ways if necessary.
The next big shocker for most of my students is evaluating their Facebook pages. Is that the same collective groan from you that I’m hearing in the classroom? What’s on your Facebook, MySpace or Twitter pages? Do you want your potential boss to know about your personal and social life? Should your prospective new employers see personal photos of you and your friends? Do you think prospective employers don’t check out your social media pages?
It’s critical to check the content of your social media pages before beginning a job search and clean them up. That’s right, take off anything you don’t want your grandmother to read! That means photos and statements undesirable to potential employers. Also be careful of religious beliefs and political opinions being voiced. Don’t use profanity. Stay conservative in content. Employers do go to Facebook, Twitter and other social networks to see what you are like when you’re not at work. Are you a wild party animal? Are you showing off your tattoos and piercings?
A former student of mine had a photo of herself with a group of friends in bathing suits in a dog pile on the beach, all holding up Coronas. No matter that they were close friends and that it was totally innocent, I told her to clean it up.
“But, it’s on Facebook! It’s private!” she blurted out indignantly.
I explained once something is on the Internet, it’s not private. Look at former Congressman Anthony Weiner and Twitter. Or Michael Phelps, the Olympic swimming champion, smoking dope at a party via YouTube. Both of their reputations were damaged because of this. Everyone has to conduct themselves carefully, especially when they are trying to create a good impression.
Great Video Information
(about.com video)(Zapwater video)
5 Keys to Successful Digital Media
» Use a professional email address.
» Always use the same formal style as in a letter and always proofread before sending.
» Keep email brief and to the point.
» Before beginning a job search, clean up all social media. Remove anything that might be undesirable to a future employer, who will check out all your profiles.
» Don’t make offensive inflammatory remarks, argue about religion or politics or use profanity on social media.
Action Item: Use the above techniques before beginning a job search.
— John Daly is the founder and president of The Key Class, the go-to guide for job search success. Click here to learn more about The Key Class or get information on Thursday night classes in Santa Barbara. Click here for previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.