Etiquette at Work

Conduct job searches on your own time

We all have personal items to attend to, and sometimes those personal items seem to need attention during work.

The job-hunting cover letter and resume are perfect examples. The office has a nice printer. It’s where your computer is, and where you spend an inordinate amount of your waking time. So it makes sense that you might want to write and print that cover letter or resume at work.


This is when Murphy’s Law — which basically says, “If anything can go wrong it will, and it will go wrong at the worst possible time” — is guaranteed to apply. Sure enough, the one time you don’t want your boss to see what’s in the printer is the one time he collects the stack, and there, right on top, are your cover letter and resume.

Now, not all bosses are going to be perturbed, but undoubtedly you’ll assume they are. And they would have a valid right to be perturbed. After all, bosses are the keepers of your time, company time, and the bottom line.

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So resist the urge to do your job search at work. Follow these rules to keep work and nonwork separated:

 Word process and print your materials outside of work. Quick print services can do a professional job if you can’t do it at home.

Only provide your personal telephone number.


Use a personal e-mail account.

Give a personal card printed with your home address, personal e-mail, and phone number to prospective employers instead of your company card.

Don’t try to sneak out of work for a job interview. If necessary, use personal time and take off a half or full day.

In addition, remember to:

Arrive five minutes early for the interview.

Dress one notch up so you look like you fit in.

Practice questions you’ll be asked and develop questions you want to ask.

When you greet interviewers stand up, look them in the eye, smile, offer a firm handshake, and say your name clearly.

Finally, write that thank-you note and send it within 24 hours. E-mail it if it’s appropriate for the company or when time is of the essence. Otherwise, send a thank-you note in the mail.

E-mail questions about business etiquette to
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