Etiquette for Hire: Part 1 – Job Applications

Adrian Fernand – Australia’s most stylish Agony Uncle – takes a look at the world of hiring and firing in Etiquette for Hire. Part 1 answers those all-important questions on job applications and preparing for interviews.

There comes a time in life when one just has to move on, and I’m not talking about skinny jeans and the axing of The Real Housewives of New York. When seeking a new job, the process can be a little daunting; what with the cover letters, Curriculum Vitae and the constant stream of indifferent recruiters.

The whole affair can make you want to throw the towel in and retire to a Buddhist temple, where orange robes and mung beans are always de rigeuer. If you’re not quite prepared to trade your polished brogues or court shoes for toe-proud sandals, then don’t despair, take the lead from the monks’ greatest virtue: patience.

Of course, having sheer talent is also helpful when seeking alternative employment, but having the skills to sell yourself long on paper will get you ahead. There was once a time when written correspondence was an indispensable attribute of any lady or gentleman, but that went out when you could have a pizza or sexual liaison delivered with just one SMS. Nowadays, if you ask someone to write you a letter with full block text and correct salutations, you’ll be lucky if you receive a torn piece of paper with illegible scrawl about paperclips.

So in an age of fast communication, correct correspondence will make your application stand out in a rather large lake of mediocrity. By following the basic rules of etiquette, not only can you be assertive, but you can always be perceived as being polite and thus, employable.

The Application

Chances are that a bunch of old crones like those on the left are going to be the ones examining your application, so if you can appeal to their old-fashioned sensibilities, it’s likely it will give you a leading edge.

Whether you’re applying online or by mail, the rules are still the same: be polite, succinct and most of all, confident.

Try and find out the name of the person handling the applications of the particular role you’re applying for and address them by their title and their surname; for example, ‘Dear Mr Smith’, rather than ‘Dear John’. Salutations like ‘Dear Sir’ or ‘Dear Madam’ are somewhat antiquated and should be reserved for situations when you don’t know their surname or formal occasions. You should always sign your letter with ‘Yours sincerely,’ and your name in this particular situation.

If you’re unable to find out the name of the person handling applications or if a general email address is supplied, then opt for ‘To Whom It May Concern:’, which is always followed by a colon and not a comma. When signing off, you should always use ‘Yours faithfully,’ which is easily remembered by thinking, “I’ve no idea who I’m sending this to and I’m putting faith in the Universe that it will be delivered where it’s meant to go even though I haven’t a hope in Hades in retrieving it should it go awry.” Easy, no?

Mr Agony Uncle
Etiquette Hatquarters

RE: Manservant Application

Dear Mr Uncle

I wish to apply for the above-mentioned position of Manservant. I believe I’m an ideal candidate as I am capable of washing, drying and folding an entire rugby team’s guernseys in forty-seven minutes and thirty-two seconds.

I trust you will consider my application.

Yours sincerely,

Pedro Wilson

Before the Interview

We live in a digital age, which thankfully makes job applications simpler to cut and paste, however, it presents a whole other smattering of issues. If you love the Internet, particularly sharing on the Internet, you need to perform an audit on your social media activity and see just what mightn’t appeal to a prospective employer. Google yourself if you haven’t already and see just what turns up. Now just might be the time to shut down that Neo-Nazi Facebook group and lock your pro-ana Twitter profile.

That said, it’s a good time to unlock your LinkedIn profile and bolster your credentials. Although, before you make any dramatic changes, review your privacy and profile update publishing settings—when someone suddenly updates their LinkedIn profile it usually means they’re looking for a new job; so take control and keep things mum, particularly if you’re connected to your boss.

Lastly, but possibly most importantly, make sure you have working voicemail on your mobile phone. Recruiters and prospective employers will always call during business hours and often from private numbers, so ensure that you have a professional-sounding outgoing message that can take the messages of wonderful job offers and heavy breathing of asthmatic perverts.

Come back tomorrow for Part 2 of Etiquette for Hire where Adrian Fernand will explore the world of interviews, follow-ups and resignations.

Article originally published on

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About Adrian Fernand

Adrian Fernand is a writer specialising in screen, television and fiction. As the Agony Uncle for etiquette and social protocol site, I Do Believe I Came with a Hat, he responds to the quandaries facing polite society in a modern world. He has in excess of 90 pairs of shoes. Follow Adrian on Twitter @AdrianFernand
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