With so many recently graduated, fresh-faced young professionals entering the workforce this spring, I find myself biting my tongue a lot.
Apparently, I have been unwittingly promoted to the far side of an ever-widening generation gap. From my new post here at the peak of the proverbial "hill" down which I'm about to progress into old age, I'm pondering how those of us over 35 could see things so differently than the enthusiastic bunch of career-minded newbies nipping at our heels.
And, while I'm having trouble accepting the fact that I now say things like: "But, isn't she uncomfortable in those jeans?" I'm also of the belief that we seasoned vets owe it to next generation to pass on some of our hard-earned workplace wisdom. The reality is — for a few more years, anyway — those of us who started working when jobs were advertised in the newspaper will still be doing most of the hiring and firing.
So, in no particular order, here are a few insights for new job seekers.
Too much sharing! – There are some things that are better left unsaid. Your need for a little R&R after a grueling final semester comes to mind. And, maybe explaining that you'd like to schedule the job interview later in the day because you're planning on going out the night before isn't such a great idea either. It sends a bad message —like that you don't really want the job.
It's not all good – While "it's all good" and "my bad" are cool when you're playing Ultimate Frisbee or hanging out with your friends, the terminology conveys a less-than-professional attitude toward a potential employer. In fact, from the employer's perspective, it's frequently not "all good," since he or she is likely struggling to find an employee who doesn't feel the need to dismiss his every misstep by saying "my bad."
Stop flip-flopping – I love a good shoe as much as the next girl. Mules, flats, wedges, whatever. But, seriously, a flip-flop does not belong on a job interview. Ever. It's summer. Your toes are hot. I get it. I still don't care. Put a shoe on. No employer wants to see your little piggies. (And if he does, trust me, you don't want to work for him.)
No problem – Oh, it's a problem, all right. Whether you're interviewing to be a butcher, a baker or a candlestick maker, no potential employer (or current employer, for that matter) wants to hear you mutter the two little words "no problem" in response to the two little words "thank you." Why? Because when someone says "thank you" and you say "no problem," it sends the subtle message that you were doing the person a favor. As in, "Hey, man, it's no problem, I wasn't doing anything anyway." Instead, when a person thanks you, they would like to hear you say, "you're welcome" or "it was my pleasure" or, better yet, a very hardy, "No, thank you for the opportunity." Here's the thing — whenever you say "no problem" to your future boss, she's thinking, "It damn well better not be a problem since I'll be paying your paycheck every week." She's just too polite to say it out loud.
Get real – Here's a truth about life: With the exception of a few social media billionaires, Suri Cruise and Prince William's future heir, everyone starts their work life at the bottom of that rickety old corporate ladder. While many fantasize about making six figures out of the gate, almost no one does. So, please, adjust your expectations. A first job with a steady salary, health benefits and a 401(k) is a good deal. Any business owner (with the possible exception of oil execs and hedge fund managers) will tell you that it's really, really difficult to make a profit. If a company offers you a reasonable salary with benefits, they are giving you way more than they got when they hung their first "open for business" sign.
Act excited – Anyone who's sat on the hiring side of a job interview will tell you: There are a lot of crazy people in the world. Now, I'm sure you're not one of them, but your prospective employer doesn't know that yet. Hiring you, no matter how impressive your internship at a flashy tech startup, is still a big gamble. Your new employer has no idea what kind of surprises might pop out of the Pandora's box that is a new employee. So, when they take a chance and offer you the job, try to sound excited —appreciative, even. There's nothing worse that feeling like your new hire is already jaded.
No texting, please – I may be old-fashioned, but here's a quick rule of thumb: If you don't know someone well enough to be invited to their home, don't text them. There's something about a text that's more personal than an email, a Facebook message or a tweet. Though cellphones have largely replaced landlines, texting has not replaced emailing. If someone gives you their cell number, it's fine to call it. But, unless you've been explicitly asked to do so, do not text your future boss. It's just too personal.
Don't be a Weiner – Learn a lesson from Anthony Weiner, the recently dethroned former congressman from New York. Nothing on Twitter is private. If you choose to tweet your impressions of a company or a manager after your interview, assume they will read it. If you really want to tell the world how you felt about the interview, be sure you don't really want the job, because you're very unlikely to get it. But, don't worry — it's all good.
Jeanette Mulvey is the managing editor of BusinessNewsDaily. She has written about small business for more than 20 years and formerly owned her own e-commerce business. Her column, Mind Your Business, appears on Mondays only on BusinessNewsDaily. You can follow her on Twitter at @jeanettebnd or contact her via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.