Job Search Best Practices

Finding the right position in a competitive job market can be difficult. Break through the resume clutter and help land your resume on the top of the pile by following this month’s best practices.

How to Decline a Job Offer

This month’s first best practice may seem a little counterintuitive, but stick with us. From time to time, you may find yourself in a position to decline a job offer. Even in a competitive market, sometimes you discover that a position simply isn’t the right position for your needs.

But declining a position is nearly as important as the actual interview process. Fumble it, and you could burn a professional bridge–one that could prove beneficial later in your career. Here are some tips to help you decline a job offer tactfully, and without destroying your relationship with the employer:

  • Do it as soon as possible.
    If you’ve decided to take another job offer, or if you have simply realized the position isn’t the right fit for you, notify the employer as soon as you can. Hiring is a costly process–in both time and money–and the sooner you can notify an employer of your decision, the sooner they can move on to the next candidate.
  • Tell them why.
    Now, if you realize that the hiring manager at a company was your worst enemy in high school, and you simply cannot work with him/her, you may want to hold that reasoning back. But, if there was something about the company that wasn’t the right fit for you, let them know. Be careful delivering this type of feedback, though. Some employers may not be keen on hearing from a candidate that their competition is better. Be frank and direct, but professional. To deliver this feedback, you may want to consider writing a letter, rather than speaking to the hiring manager over the phone. This way, you won’t accidentally be taken off track, or say something by mistake.
  • Thank them for the opportunity–and mean it.
    Be sincere, and thank the company and the employer for their time, and for presenting you with the opportunity. If you feel you may be a good fit for another position down the line, say so, but don’t throw that out there if you don’t mean it. It can come across as hollow, or worse, they could offer you another job…one that you still don’t want to take.

Are your emails costing you the job?

Email has become one of our primary methods of communication, and as it has become part of our everyday lives. It has also invaded the job search process. In today’s marketplace, a vast majority of resumes are emailed, and emails are replacing the traditional cover letters of yesteryear.

Have you ever read aloud an email you sent to family or friends? Would you send that email to a potential employer? In all likelihood, an email with personal language or shortcuts is the last thing you would want to send a prospective boss or co-worker. So, avoid losing the job, and help yourself stand out, by implementing these job search email tips:

  • Read it aloud.
    This may sound a little silly, but trust us, it works. A misplaced comma or minor typo can not only make you look bad, it can completely transform the meaning of your sentence. Take a few minutes to read your email aloud before sending, and avoid any unnecessary egg on your face.
  • Put it in cover letter format first.
    If you’re worried that writing an email will cause you to veer off course, try writing a traditional cover letter first, and then convert it to email form. You can even shorten the initial cover letter and attach the original to your message. This will show extra initiative and attention to detail on your part, and can help impress a potential employer.
  • Note attachments.
    Some employers cannot receive any attachments, and require resumes to be pasted in the actual email message. Others will only accept specific types of attachments. Read job postings carefully for requirements (some also require a specific subject line for consideration). And if you do attach documents to your message, note the specific attachments at the completion of your email (just as you would with “enclosures” on a traditional cover letter).

Follow these job search best practices, and you’ll be well on your way to your next great career opportunity!