September 28, 2011

The Lost Art of Electronic Etiquette

RudenessWelcome to the digital age…text messages, shooting off emails between appointments from your smart phone, brief voicemails from a Bluetooth in a car. Sadly this is the norm for communication these days.  With G+, Facebook, Twitter and other social media clogging the method and means of communication, it’s no surprise that common courtesy and professionalism has taken a back seat to speed and ease.  But if you’re one of those professionals seeking to make a name and a reputation for standing above the competition…then read on.

Lately I’ve started to realize that we’ve taken a lot of the simple pleasantries and civil courtesies for granted.  It happened just a few days back when I was struggling to respond to an email from a prospective client.  While my communications usually start with a pleasant introduction, ‘Hello Mr. Doe,  I hope this email finds you well” the quick jotted response from the client responded with 3 words.  “Wednesday at 3”.  While I was crafting my response it struck me that it seemed a little odd to respond to such a blunt email with my usual polite and official response.  At the end, I decided to play it safe and continue in my usual official/professional mode.  After all, I usually save the blunt friendly banter for after I’ve met a client and established my awesome likable personality. It got me to thinking…what are we all doing wrong?

  • Email Etiquette:  I can’t even tell you how many emails I get without a greeting or even the tiny personalization of putting my name somewhere, anywhere in the entire thing.  And you know what? It’s fine because we’re all used to it.  But on the other hand, it doesn’t make us stand out as being professionals.  In the business of recruiting you have to always remember that Clients, Candidates, and Managers might just see you as ‘ick, another Recruiter’.  In this business, from Agency to Corporate, Recruiters have to stand well above other professionals in our daily behavior.  We have to dress better, speak better, be more professional and always be on our game. There’s no other choice.  Why? Because while finding talent may be our job, we’re not effective unless we can sell ourselves first.  We’re not effective unless we have buy-in.  While most Recruiters are innately aware of this and do show themselves to be professionals, all of us have overlooked the danger of emails at one time or another.  It’s so easy to jot off a quick, thoughtless response.  Sometimes it will be fine.  Other times it will be misread and seen as blunt or rude.  Taking the time to act a professional in your emails will always ensure that you’re standing above your competition and that you’ve created a perception of professionalism from first contact.
  • Phone Etiquette: The lost of picking up the phone.  Ahh, those were the days.  Remember when phone calls were the be all / end all of this business? No? Me either. Communicating on the phone always has to be used in tandem with email contact.  It’s faster and easier, not just for you, but more than likely for your Manager.  But there are still some very important basics to keep in mind.  When you’re making a phone call…slow down!! Over the years I’ve heard a ton of Recruiters on the phone with Hiring Managers and Candidates.  It turns out it’s a race.  People have a tendency to pick up a phone and leave what I call, The Motor Mouth VM.  They’re rushed, they’re mumbling and they’re half out of breath by the end of the call.  Yeah, not gonna get you a call back.  Keep it slow, keep it short and keep it informative.

Taking the extra time to audit your own actions is invaluable in this business.  From taking a second look at your tried and true candidate searches to keeping track of your email etiquette, self monitoring is necessary in this business.  You have to always bear in mind that you’re creating a persona, a professional reputation and a perception with every communication.  Just like everything in life…it’s the little things that count the most.

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Marie is a writer for covering career advice, recruitment topics, and HR issues. She has an educational background in languages and literature as well as corporate experience in Human Resources.