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1. Wearing an iPod is not OK. This is self-explanatory, right? You are basically saying, “I don’t want to talk” at an event that is all about talking.
2. Overly formal introductions are too much. A simple, “Hi, my name is Milford Pickles” and a handshake is perfect. Please do not do this: “Hi, my name is Milford Pickles. I am a PhD candidate writing my thesis on how angry getting pooped on by a bird makes people. Before that, I worked for a baboon research lab that had a grant to determine how bad dead baboons smell. Turns out: pretty bad. I am originally from Apebones, Indiana. When I was 5, my father taught me how to fold a five dollar bill into the shape of a pigeon. Do you have any openings in your company that would suit me?” You have simultaneously bored the crap out of me and rendered me speechless. Congrats.
3. Don’t pretend you know everything about us. You don’t—and that’s OK. We don’t expect you to know anything about us, really. It is impressive if you at least went to our website and tried, though. When you say that you really enjoy TWAINing in annotations, I’m probably just going to laugh at you.
4. Know your audience. This goes for both dress code and conversation. If you are only looking for software development positions, chances are you can wear jeans and a nice shirt and no one will blink an eye. If you are looking at finance positions, wear a suit. If you’re not sure, err on the side of caution. The same goes for conversations. If you see Eric and I wearing jeans that’s a pretty good cue that we’re casual, laid back, and don’t expect a ton of formality. Observation is really, really important.