We’ve all heard the old adage “Looking for work is work”. When applying for jobs it’s important to remain a consummate professional. There is a certain job search etiquette and appropriate behaviour that needs adhering to. How you present yourself could either impress or put off future employers.

For example, always turn off your cell phone during a job interview. Not just for the sake of being polite, but also if you are someone who enjoys eclectic ringtones, an interview is not the time to show them off.

Having “Bow-chicka-bow-bow” ring out from your phone while trying to impress a future employer is not only embarrassing, but may give the interviewer a sordid impression of how you spend your time out of the office.

You never want to open the door to the question: What does your ringtone say about you?

From answering your phone, to the message you leave, it is important to be aware of how you are representing yourself.

You only need to make this mistake once to learn your lesson. It happened to me when I was applying for a summer student placement position. I was lying in bed one morning when the phone rang. I picked up the receiver and the conversation went something like this:

“Hello” I said.

“Hello, is this Jenna?”

“Yes, oh my god, hi how are you?” I enthusiastically responded.

“Um, I’m good, thank you”

“Oh my god, where are you, what time is it where you are?”

“Um, it’s 9:30″

“What, what do you mean?”

“Um, that it’s 9:30…”

“Wait, you’re here!?! No, where are you?”

“I’m in Toronto”

“What? I can’t believe you’re here. What are you doing here? When can we meet up?”

“Jenna, I’m phoning about the application you submitted for the summer student position. I’m wondering if you’d like to come in for an interview.”

There was a long pause.

“Hello? Jenna?”

Embarrassing, yes, but at least it was only a friend for whom I had mistaken the caller. In hindsight it could have been worse.

That was all it took to realize that when searching for work it is important to always be ready to receive a call.

Here are a few more job search etiquette tips:

Have a professional sounding voice mail message. No jokes or celebrity impersonations, please. (I once heard a very poor Yoda impression telling me that, “Patient, you must be. A message you must leave.”)

Don’t apply for jobs with an email address that reflects your hobby, your entire family or your sexual prowess. (golfmaniac@email.com, TheHendersons@email.com, or Ladiesman69@email.com) Create one that’s just your name, or as close as possible. JohnSmith500@email.com is fine.

It’s fine to have a sense of humour, but you have to be aware that not everyone is going to share it. If you misjudge your audience before you get to know them (or they get to know you), you stand a high chance of looking unprofessional or immature.

Find a job where you can be yourself. On the job hunt, however, it’s better to be the polite, respectful version of yourself that you send to dinner with your significant other’s parents.