Keep Calm Stay Professional!

By Joe Stein

I don’t know if you have been caught up in the craze the last couple of years, but it has been hard not to see the t-shirts and posters around stating “Keep Calm and Stay (fill in the blank)”. The origin of this saying goes all the way back to the British in World War II and their efforts to maintain morale. 
 
I thought of this slogan when talking to one of my HR friends a little while ago about a recent recruiting experience. She was telling me about recruiting for a position, settling on a candidate, and feeling really good about where she landed. At this point, she told me the situation turned odd as the candidate started behaving unprofessionally. She felt she had no choice but to offer the position (instead) to her #2 candidate. While listening to her, it sounded like the situation was a classic case of a candidate overcompensating and getting overanxious about the position. Most likely it was because of just how badly the person wanted the job. The shame is their failure to harness their interest level cost them the position.
 
So, as you are closing in on the position you are seeking, you will want to display interest but you also will want to “Keep Calm and Stay Professional”. What does this mean? Let’s learn from some of the things the candidate did, and what not to do.
 
·         Don’t Do the Personal Social Media – I have been told I am too “old fashioned” because I don’t think, as a candidate, you should be trying to connect on LinkedIn with your Hiring Manager while being recruited. I do not believe, however, there is much argument from anyone that you should not be trying to Facebook or Google+ your Hiring Manager. At best, you will come across as socially needy; at worst, you will be seen as someone who is uncomfortably prying into a person’s personal life.
 
·         Just Write a Simple Thank You Note – If you are wondering what goes into a Thank You e-mail, go on our website www.wnyjobs.com for more information specifically on this subject. A Thank You note should be a paragraph (maybe two at most) in length and should focus on your interest along with a brief statement about why you are the best candidate. It should not be multiple pages and should not contain statements around the personal connection you felt with the interviewer. It will come across as unnecessary, unprofessional, and a bit creepy.
 
·         Log Off When Tired – As much as you may want to send that note out to your interviewer and check it off your “to do” list, if it is 1 a.m. and you are dead tired then do it in the morning! You will most likely find yourself writing words that can’t be understood. In the example noted above, the candidate wrote a couple of paragraphs in a long e-mail sent late at night that read like a “stream of consciousness” and did not make sense to the reader.
 
·         Remember Who the Hiring Manager Is – If you are asked to interview with other people, such as senior leaders, it can be a real boost to your ego. It is very tempting to draw the conclusion that if you can win these people over, you can really guarantee your chances of landing the job. Gaining the support of the Hiring Manager’s boss can be very beneficial, but it can’t be done at the expense of the feelings of the person who will be your supervisor. In my example, the candidate in essence ignored the Hiring Manager once he connected with those above her. At the end of the day, the Sr. Leaders told the Hiring Manager to hire who she wanted and she did (and it was not this person).
 
·         Follow Directions – As a candidate, you may have in mind a specific process that you would like to do in order to land the job. If your steps are different than the Hiring Manager, then YOU need to adjust. The Hiring Manager trumps your plans or ideas. For example, if you want to produce a plan of what you want to accomplish in your first 30-90 days, but your prospective supervisor tells you it is not needed, then don’t do it! By writing it and submitting it anyway, all you will project is an image that you don’t follow directions.
 
It is hard not to be very excited as you get close to being offered the position that you so badly wanted. All along the process you have done the right things, but as you get close to the prize, it is easy to let your excitement get the best of you and cloud your judgment. Don’t forget that until you have been hired, you do not have the position and you need to be on your best behavior. So, “Keep Calm and Be Professional!”
                                                                                               
As always, best of luck in your job search!