Sometimes in life, our greatest strengths can become a point of weakness. For instance, emotionally intelligent, highly insightful people can sometimes become overwhelmed by the highs and lows of their friends’ emotions. Hard-charging, Type-A people who are most comfortable when striving to achieve goals can sometimes get so caught up in the future that they forget to take the time to enjoy the good life they’ve worked so hard for today. And military or US foreign service spouses, who have uncanny ability to make friends wherever they go, can sometimes come across as too casual or unprofessional when searching and interviewing for a new job.
Yes, you read that right. Your ability to make friends and connect with people on a personal level can be a weakness when searching for a job! Sure, hiring managers want to get to know the real you, and your outgoing and friendly personality might be one of your greatest assets. But you never get a second chance to make another first impression, so you’re better off impressing a potential employer with your professionalism first and then wowing them later with your friend-making abilities.
We know this advice is general. So here are specific tips to help you maintain your professionalism when searching for a job.
1. Use a professional email address that matches your name.
We once had a hiring manager tell us about an applicant they thought looked promising. The applicant’s resume was well-written, and she had the experience the company was looking for. The hiring manager was getting ready to contact the candidate but didn’t. Why? Because when the hiring manager started to email the candidate, she noticed that the candidate’s email was firstname.lastname@example.org. That was enough to make the hiring manager move on to the next candidate.
That’s why we recommend your email address matches your name. It presents a professional image, so create a new email account just for your job search if needed.
2. Avoid oversharing.
Having childcare or car troubles? Struggling with your spouses’ deployment? That’s ok. We all have those kinds of problems at one point or another. Just be careful to not give a hiring manager a reason to think that you will likely always have problems like that. Or said another way, be aware that everything you say will be used to make inferences about what your behavior would be like on the job.
3. Keep all communication professional.
It’s easy to get personal when emailing someone, and we do it all the time with family and friends. But when emailing a potential employer, be sure to use an appropriate opening and closing. As an example, “Dear Mr. or Ms.” is far better than “Hi (insert first name).” This point is especially important when replying to an email because that’s normally where candidates trip up. It’s so easy just to hit “reply” and start typing.
Also, take the time to check your grammar and spelling before you send anything. Editing tools provided within email programs are not enough. You need to use a specific editing tool like Grammarly.
4. Audit your social media profiles.
Here’s another true story. A hiring manager did a simple web search on a candidate they were considering. Unfortunately, the photos the candidate posted on Facebook were party pictures, with plenty of alcohol and skin showing. As you can imagine, these pictures didn’t present the candidate in a favorable light, and consequently, the candidate didn’t get hired at that company.
Now wait, you’re saying. Isn’t your private life your private business? Well, of course it is. The military and foreign service spouse community is a close one, and sharing fun party pictures within your group of friends is perfectly acceptable and sometimes even expected. Just be sure to set your privacy settings so that strangers cannot see the posts and pictures you prefer to keep private. Also, make sure the posts you’re tagged in and sharing are in line with your professional image.
Making a great first impression is critical for job seekers. Hiring managers often get hundreds of applications for each job, so they often do an initial elimination round based on weeding out the easy “no’s.” Don’t give a hiring manager a reason to put your resume aside. Present yourself with the utmost professionalism and leave the getting to know the fun you for after you’re hired.
At ServingTalent, we love connecting military and foreign service spouses with employers who need the best talent. If you’re a military or foreign service spouse who is looking to advance your career, be sure to reach out to us. We just might know an organization that’s looking for someone with your skills and experience.
About the Author: Shilo is a content marketing strategist and writer who loves helping businesses tell their story and connect with customers through engaging and informative content. She is also a military spouse who has lived in 12 cities in 10 states in the last 20 years.