Mobile phones can cost you a jobBy Christiane Soto,

I love my smartphone…..everyone, I think, loves their smartphones. This little device has given me more flexibility than any other invention created during my lifetime.  It has become ubiquitous to our way of life, used to communicate, conduct research and stay in touch with old friends.  We can even apply for jobs with it.

However, during the job hunt, your smartphone can become your worst enemy.

During this time, you must present yourself as professionally as possible.  With all the effort you have put into creating a professional résumé, cover letter, and wardrobe, it would be an absolute shame if your smartphone represented you in a unprofessional or inappropriate wayand then cost you a job offer.

Ringback tones and notification tones

Using bits of music, dialog, or inappropriate sounds as a ringtone or notification tone is a huge mistake. The goal is to appear professional – not to annoy or offend. Remember, you do not know the person sitting in front of you; everyone is different with different tastes and opinions.  We find different things funny; we find different things offensive.   Not everyone thinks Eminem’s lyrics are literary masterpieces, and you must always assume that using a woman’s scream as a notification for a new text/email/Instagram comment/Facebook “like” will offend.  

Answering calls in public places

It may be unfair, but there is a definite stigma for the unemployed.  Human resource professionals consistently rank people who they believe to be unemployed significantly lower in terms of warmth, competency and hireability.  So even though you may have only taken your lunch hour to eat with your child in the school’s cafeteria, do not answer your phone in such a noisy place.   It is better to let it go to voicemail and return the potential employer’s phone call when you are in a quiet location.

Hide Your Phone

The advice to turn off your phone during an interview is good advice.  Our smartphones are such an extension of our lives, that – for many people – they never leave their bodies.  Because of this, many job seekers lose sight of the fact that there are times when their smartphone should not be seen or heard.  The urge to “check” may just be too much.  Turn it off and put it in your pocket, purse or satchel.

In all communications remain professional. 

Between the auto-correct feature and Swype, there are thousands (if not millions) of examples of people sending horrendous (but funny) texts and emails via their smartphone.  Called “auto-correct fails”, many of these are outrageously funny; however, an “auto-correct fail” with a potential employer can torpedo any chance you have to receive a job offer. Remember, when you interact with a possible employer, you will reference the hiring manager’s name and the company’s name.  Names (of any type) are ripe for auto-correcting.  I have personally experienced the pure unadulterated terror that comes when my phone auto-corrects people’s names to curse words and parts of the human body.  Only by proofing every single thing I write have I been able to avoid abject embarrassment.

What have your experiences been?  Have you been burned in the job search by your smartphone?  If so, we would love to hear about and compare notes and ideas for how to best present yourself while leveraging the powerful communication abilities that smartphones afford.  Comment below and let’s get a dialogue started.  If you like what you read, add our Candidate Connection Blog to your RSS feed.  We look forward to talking with you!