Stop and think about the number of emails you send each week compared to the number of written letters you mail. Take a closer look at your social media profiles and understand the message you are sending. Identify opportunities to expand your professional network to build productive, high quality connections. In doing each of these tasks, always remember and utilize proper “netiquette.” The term “netiquette” refers to rules of etiquette established for use on the internet. With more and more job seekers and employers turning to the internet for career opportunities, it is increasingly important to make sure you are practicing good netiquette.
1. Professional Communication: Think about the way you compose your email messages, especially those sent to professors, university staff, potential employers, and even friends. Do you always use a salutation (i.e. Good Morning Dr. Johansen,), capitalize appropriately, follow basic grammar and spelling guidelines, spell-check, and end with your name? Practicing professional communication on the internet during college will ensure that you do the same in your career by forming good habits. Plus, you never know who might read your email or become a potential employer. Therefore, remember that email can be easily forwarded to others and that it is not a secure or private form of communication. Don’t use email to discuss private matters or information that you wouldn’t want others to know. Additionally, avoid using too many exclamation marks, all-caps, and emoticons :) which can be considered rude and unprofessional by employers. Pay attention to your tone and avoid using sarcasm or dry humor in your writing that may be misinterpreted. Finally, always check with the recipient first before sending attached files that could clog up their inbox and prevent them from receiving other emails.
2. Your Online Brand: Use the internet with your reputation in mind and think of your social profiles as your virtual business card. Assess your current online presence and count the number of social media sites your are involved with. Note the ratio of professional sites to personal sites (i.e. LinkedIn to Facebook) and think about the message your profiles send employers. Identify areas where your online brand can be strengthened through increased interaction in professional discussion boards or by using personal sites with a professional purpose. Finally, review your privacy settings periodically as options may change and make sure your settings limit the amount of information strangers can gather from your profiles. Know when and how it is appropriate to share information on public sites.
3. Make your Net-work: Map out your current network and divide them into professional, personal, and pro-personal (ex: co-workers, instructors, etc.) categories. When attempting to connect with new people and potential employers, find a mutual contact and request an introduction to avoid looking like a spammer or stalker. Always contact the person first through a professional message before connecting with them in social networking sites. Be clear with your intentions and never ask for a favor right off the bat. To build quality connections, focus on giving to receive: share news or information and solicit advice and opinions.
Now that you know your netiquette, you can avoid the networking and job search faux pas that can keep your potential job just out of reach.