Your hard-earned college degree will get you in the door, but it is your soft skills that will help you land a job. Soft skills are the new hard skills—the distinguishing qualities that will help you outclass the competition. They are the missing link between your education and success in the business world.
Following are The Etiquette School of New York’s top 10 business etiquette tips for new college graduates:
1. Know the proper protocol for making introductions and introducing yourself. Always have a prepared self-introduction for every interview and networking event you attend—one that will stimulate interest in you and make you memorable.
2. Shake hands with a firm grip, direct eye contact, and good posture. These are considered your presence power points and they ‘speak’ volumes about your confidence and credibility as a person who is going places.
3. Suit-up for success: wear appropriate business attire–the attire that is worn by those in your industry or profession–and always make sure you are well-groomed when you go for a job interview or to a business meeting. Polished shoes translate to attention to detail. A polished appearance opens doors!
4. Cultivate a strong, clear speaking voice; enunciate your words; and don’t use slang, foul language, or filler words. Knowing how to communicate clearly and effectively is essential to your success.
5. Polish your electronic and written communications. Be professional: conduct yourself in a business-like manner at all times, using appropriate business language. Use correct spelling, grammar and punctuation.
6. Learn what is considered professional and appropriate when using your landline and cell phone for business. Always identify yourself when placing and answering a call. Be prepared to leave a voice mail when you place a call, since over half of all calls placed go to voice mail.
7. Know what is appropriate, and what does not reflect positively upon you, when you use your social networking tools. Every communication in the virtual, as well as the real world, is an opportunity to make a good impression. Often your first impression is made online, since HR professionals often Google your name before meeting you in person.
8. Master the art of mingling, networking, and making small talk. Being skillful at mingling and networking will not only help you get a job, but it will also help you stand out in your new job.
9. Be polished and professional at the dining table: practice good dining skills and suitable table manners. You may have an interview scheduled as a lunch so your potential employer can observe your table manners; and there is no better or worse place to make an impression than at the table.
10. Practice good manners at all times! Civility counts! People remember people with good manners.