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9 Hardworking professional etiquette tips

ot has changed about office work in the last several years, but many rules of etiquette are the same, albeit with a few tweaks. If you’re trying to stand out in the professional world, it pays, sometimes literally, to know a few pointers. A little bit of thoughtfulness can go a long way toward landing a dream position and getting along with your peers.

These etiquette tips cover the job search, interviews, meetings, and day-to-day life in the office, from the proper way to address cover letters to how to handle Zoom meetings like a pro.

Handshakes are still standard, but refusal is fine

ot has changed about office work in the last several years, but many rules of etiquette are the same, albeit with a few tweaks. If you’re trying to stand out in the professional world, it pays, sometimes literally, to know a few pointers. A little bit of thoughtfulness can go a long way toward landing a dream position and getting along with your peers.

These etiquette tips cover the job search, interviews, meetings, and day-to-day life in the office, from the proper way to address cover letters to how to handle Zoom meetings like a pro.

Address cover letters to the hiring manager when possible

Resumes may be getting screened by AI now, but if you make the cut, your application is still going to be viewed and vetted by human beings — and that’s when a cover letter is going to help you stand out. One way to make it pop is by addressing it to the hiring manager for the position, aka your potential new boss, who is likely going to be reading it. If the name of the hiring manager is not obvious in the posting, there are ways you can suss it out, such as through a LinkedIn search, a company directory, or even a phone call. If you’re not confident about who to address it to, a “Dear Hiring Manager” should suffice.

Send a thank you note after job interviews

After a great interview, it’s polite to send a quick follow-up message to say thank you. It gives the hiring managers a great second impression to go with the good first one. It doesn’t have to be a snail-mailed card — it might not even make it to their desk before a decision is made, anyway. A quick email telling them it was great meeting them and letting them know how excited you are about the position should suffice.

Glance over emails before sending

Misspellings were one thing in the time of typewritten memos, but now that spell check is standard pretty much anywhere text exists, it’s worth giving your communication an extra glance before hitting the send button. Try reading your emails under your breath if you keep missing errors. While you’re at it, double-check the names of anybody you’re addressing against their signatures or contact information.

BCC is your friend

When you send an email to multiple recipients, stop and consider whether the entire group needs to read every reply to your initial message. If the answer is no, you should place most or all of the recipients in the BCC (blind carbon copy) field. Those who need to be kept fully in the loop can go in the “to” or CC field; then, when somebody hits “reply all,” their email will just reach you and whoever else isn’t on BCC. A reply-all to everybody can clog up inboxes and make it easy to miss important information.

Leave camera on in small-to-medium meetings

Video meetings are increasingly a part of everyday business life, and they come with their own etiquette rules. One best practice is to join meetings with your camera on to show that you’re present and make things a little more like an in-person meeting. If it’s a massive all-hands where you’re not presenting anything and only a few people are doing all the talking, it’s less gauche to turn off the camera — although you might want to leave it on for the first few minutes to be polite.

Pay attention to your microphone

In virtual meetings and, if you still have them, on conference calls, be aware of whether you’re on mute or not — in most cases, you should stay on mute unless you’re actively speaking. A pet, child, phone call, unexpected visitor, or crunchy snack can derail a meeting, especially on video, when a little sound can put your camera on the main screen for other attendees.

Give credit where credit is due

If you receive praise for an accomplishment that isn’t solely attributable to you — maybe you were part of a team, or just managed the people responsible — make sure you call out anybody who pitched in. Your colleagues will feel appreciated, and your honesty likely won’t go unnoticed, either.

Respect the personal time of others

Just because one person eats lunch at their desk and checks their email at 11 p.m. doesn’t mean it should be expected of anybody else. Let people in your professional life draw their own boundaries as long as everybody’s getting their work done — anything else is a recipe for resentment and burnout. This is best practice for anybody you interact with at work, but especially for anybody working below you, who may see after-hours communication as an expectation that they need to work late.

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