Don’t Forget Proper Business Etiquette

We live in a world where the old school rules of how to behave in public sometimes get forgotten. Here at BarryStaff we still believe that proper Business Etiquette can make the difference when doing business or interviewing for a job. Check out this recent article from Inc Magazine.

The word “etiquette” gets a bad rap. For one thing, it sounds stodgy and pretentious. And rules that are socially or morally prescribed seem intrusive to our sense of individuality and freedom.

But the concept of etiquette is still essential, especially now—and particularly in business. New communication platforms, like Facebook and Linked In, have blurred the lines of appropriateness and we’re all left wondering how to navigate unchartered social territory.

At Crane & Co., we have been advising people on etiquette for two centuries. We have even published books on the subject—covering social occasions, wedding etiquette and more.

Boil it down and etiquette is really all about making people feel good. It’s not about rules or telling people what to do, or not to do, it’s about ensuring some basic social comforts.

So here are a few business etiquette rules that matter now—whatever you want to call them.

1. Send a Thank You Note

I work at a paper company that manufactures stationery and I’m shocked at how infrequently people send thank you notes after interviewing with me. If you’re not sending a follow-up thank you note to Crane, you’re not sending it anywhere.

But the art of the thank you note should never die. If you have a job interview, or if you’re visiting clients or meeting new business partners—especially if you want the job, or the contract or deal—take the time to write a note. You’ll differentiate yourself by doing so and it will reflect well on your company too.

2. Know the Names

It’s just as important to know your peers or employees as it is to develop relationships with clients, vendors or management. Reach out to people in your company, regardless of their roles, and acknowledge what they do.

My great-grandfather ran a large manufacturing plant. He would take his daughter (my grandmother) through the plant; she recalled that he knew everyone’s name—his deputy, his workers, and the man who took out the trash.

We spend too much of our time these days looking up – impressing senior management. But it’s worth stepping back and acknowledging and getting to know all of the integral people who work hard to make your business run.

3. Observe the ‘Elevator Rule’

When meeting with clients or potential business partners off-site, don’t discuss your impressions of the meeting with your colleagues until the elevator has reached the bottom floor and you’re walking out of the building. That’s true even if you’re the only ones in the elevator.

Call it superstitious or call it polite—but either way, don’t risk damaging your reputation by rehashing the conversation as soon as you walk away.

4. Focus on the Face, Not the Screen

It’s hard not to be distracted these days. We have a plethora of devices to keep us occupied; emails and phone calls come through at all hours; and we all think we have to multitask to feel efficient and productive.

But that’s not true: When you’re in a meeting or listening to someone speak, turn off the phone. Don’t check your email. Pay attention and be present.

When I worked in news, everyone was attached to a BlackBerry, constantly checking the influx of alerts. But my executive producer rarely used hers—and for this reason, she stood out. She was present and was never distracted in editorial meetings or discussions with the staff. And it didn’t make her any less of a success.

5. Don’t Judge

We all have our vices—and we all have room for improvement. One of the most important parts of modern-day etiquette is not to criticize others.

You may disagree with how another person handles a specific situation, but rise above and recognize that everyone is trying their best. It’s not your duty to judge others based on what you feel is right. You are only responsible for yourself.

We live in a world where both people and businesses are concerned about brand awareness. Individuals want to stand out and be liked and accepted by their peers–both socially and professionally.

The digital landscape has made it even more difficult to know whether or not you’re crossing a line, but I think it’s simple. Etiquette is positive. It’s a way of being—not a set of rules or dos and don’ts.

So before you create that hashtag, post on someone’s Facebook page or text someone mid-meeting, remember the fundamentals: Will this make someone feel good?

And remember the elemental act of putting pen to paper and writing a note. You’ll make a lasting impression that a shout-out on Twitter or a Facebook wall mention can’t even touch.

BarryStaff’s Memorial Day Quiz

1. When is Memorial Day Celebrated?
2. What was Memorial Day called originally?
3. What war’s end started Memorial Day (Decoration Day)?
4. Is it only for remembering those who have fallen in battle.
5. Is the Indianapolis 500 always run on Memorial Day?
6. What was the first “Decoration Day?”
7. What was the first “official” Decoration Day?
8. What town has the longest running Memorial Day parade.
9. When did the name change from Decoration Day to Memorial Day?
10. When did the holiday get moved from May 30 to the last Monday in May?

1. On the last Monday of May
2. Decoration Day. A day for putting flowers and flags on veterans’ graves.
3. It was originally a day to commemorate the fallen Union Soldiers but by the 20th century it became a day to remember all who had been killed while serving in the United States military.
4. Originally, that was the idea but by the early 20th century it became a day to remember all departed loved ones but particularly those who had served in the United States Armed Forces.
5. No. The Indy 500 is run on the Sunday of Memorial Day weekend.
6. The first Decoration Day was observed on May 1, 1865 in Charleston, SC where over 250 Union prisoners of War had been buried at a Confederate prison Camp. Over 10,000 freedmen (freed slaves) knew of the Union dead and gathered to honor them by decorating their unmarked gravesite.
7. In 1868 General John A. Logan, who was in charge of the Union Army, declared that Decoration Day should be observed nationwide. The date was set as May, 30 and was chosen as one of the few days that a battle had not been fought during the Civil War.
8. Ironton, Ohio had their first parade in 1868 and they’ve had one every year since.
9. The name changed in 1967
10. In 1968 an act of Congress called the Uniform Monday Holiday Act moved Memorial Day, Veterans Day, Columbus Day, and Washington’s Birthday to a Monday so that federal workers would get a convenient 3-day weekend. Washington’s birthday is commonly called “Presidents’ Day” now because Lincoln was also born in February and we hate to leave the poor guy out.

On Memorial Day the flag is raised briskly to the top of the staff and then solemnly lowered to the half-staff position, where it remains only until noon. It is then raised to full-staff for the remainder of the day. The half-staff position remembers the more than one million men and women who gave their lives in service of their country. At noon their memory is raised by the living, who resolve not to let their sacrifice be in vain, but to rise up in their stead and continue the fight for liberty and justice for all.

7 Things You Should Never Do During An Interview

With the job market extremely tight, even the small stuff counts, especially when you’re on a job interview. That’s why it’s so important not to say or do the wrong things, since that first impression could end up being the last one.

With that in mind, here are seven deadly sins of job interviewing.

1. Don’t Be Late To the Interview. 
Even if you car broke down or the subway derailed, do everything you can to get to that job interview on time.  “If you have a legitimate excuse it’s still hard to bounce back,” says Pamela Skillings, co-founder of job coaching firm Skillful Communications. “People are suspicious because they hear the same excuses all the time.”  On the flip side, you don’t want to show up too early and risk appearing desperate, but you do want to be there at least five minutes early or at the very least on time.

2. Don’t Show Up Unprepared
It seems simple, but countless people go on job interviews knowing very little about the company they are interviewing with when all it would take is a simple Google search to find out. As a result, they end up asking obvious questions, which signal to the interviewer that they are too lazy to prepare.  “Don’t ask if the company is public or private, how long it’s been in business and where they do their manufacturing,” says Mark Jaffe, president of Wyatt & Jaffe, the executive search firm. “Sharpen your pencil before you go to school.”

3. Don’t Ask About Salary, Benefits, Perks
Your initial interview with a company shouldn’t be about what the company can do for you, but what you can do for the company. Which means the interview isn’t the time to ask about the severance package, vacation time or health plan. Instead you should be selling yourself as to why the company can’t live without you.  “Your interest should be about the job and what your responsibilities will be,” says Terry Pile, Principal Consultant of Career Advisors. “Asking about vacation, sick leave, 401K, salary and benefits should be avoided at all costs.”

4. Don’t Focus On Future Roles Instead Of The Job At Hand
The job interview is not the time or place to ask about advancement opportunities or how to become the CEO. You need to be interested in the job you are actually interviewing for. Sure, a company wants to see that you are ambitious, but they also want assurances you are committed to the job you’re being hired for.  “You can’t come with an agenda that this job is just a stepping stone to bigger and better things,” says Jaffe.

5. Don’t Turn The Weakness Question Into A Positive
To put it bluntly, interviewers are not idiots. So when they ask you about a weakness and you say you work too hard or you are too much of a perfectionist, chances are they are more apt to roll their eyes than be blown away. Instead, be honest and come up with a weakness that can be improved on and won’t ruin your chances of getting a job.  For instance, if you are interviewing for a project management position, it wouldn’t be wise to say you have poor organizational skills, but it’s ok to say you want to learn more shortcuts in Excel. “Talk about the skills you don’t have that will add value, but aren’t required for the job,” says Pile.

6. Don’t Lie
Many people think its ok to exaggerate their experience or fib about a firing on a job interview, but lying can be a surefire way not to get hired. Even if you get through the interview process with your half truths, chances are you won’t be equipped to handle the job you were hired to do. Not to mention the more you lie the more likely you are to slip up.  “Don’t exaggerate, don’t make things bigger than they are and don’t claim credit for accomplishments you didn’t do,” says Jaffe. “You leave so much room in your brain if you don’t have to fill it with which lie you told which person.”

7. Don’t Ask If There’s Any Reason You Shouldn’t Be Hired
Well meaning career experts will tell you to close your interview by asking if there is any reason you wouldn’t be hired. While that question can give you an idea of where you stand and afford you the opportunity to address any concerns, there’s no guarantee the interviewer is going to be truthful with you or has even processed your information enough to even think about that.  “All you are doing is prompting them to think about what’s wrong with you,” says Skillings.

5 Things to Look for in a Great Job Interview

Here is what separates a good candidate from a great one.

1. Attention to detail

How many times have you heard this one, right? Pay attention to detail. Let me say it again: PAY ATTENTION TO DETAIL!

There’s a great story at the end of the movie Coming to America with Eddie Murphy. It goes something like this:

A man goes into a restaurant. He’s having a bowl of soup and he says to the waiter, “Waiter come taste the soup.” The waiter says, “Is something wrong with the soup?” He says “Taste the soup.” The waiter says again, “Is there something wrong with the soup? Is the soup too hot?” The man says again, “Will you taste the soup?“ “What’s wrong, is the soup too cold?” Replies the waiter. “Will you just taste the soup?!” “All right, I’ll taste the soup,” says the waiter, “where’s the spoon??” “Aha. Aha! …”

At this point you may be asking yourself, “So what does this have to do with identifying a great candidate?”

Not less than two months ago I received a wonderful e-mail from an applicant seeking to work for The Trademark Company. The e-mail was personally crafted. The note struck a wonderful tone emphasizing capability and a willingness to learn more about what we do here. Most importantly, the candidate emphasized attention to detail. I was sold. I was ready to open up the resume and see what they had to offer. And then, “Aha. Aha! …”

The applicant had failed to attach a resume. In the blink of an eye, all of the time spent preparing for this submission–researching me, the company, and the job’s requirements–vanished into thin air. Poof!

Some CEOs may have overlooked this and just asked for the resume. But you can’t say you have an eye for detail and then fail to deliver on the point. Everything job candidates do, from cover letter to resume and beyond, must prove that point. Otherwise they are just wasting your time. I passed on that candidate.

2. Proofread

My contracts professor in law school told this one to the class one day. Although he was an otherwise socially challenged individual, this story has always stayed with me.

It seems that at some juncture he was involved in delivering a speech on some topic that involved a “public option.” He had written and prepared the speech but had left the PowerPoint slide presentation to one of his assistants.

Well, as he began delivering his speech–a seemingly dry speech–he could not understand why a wave of chuckles and murmurs would, from time to time, arise from the audience. It was not until he neared the end of his presentation that he glanced up at the screen projecting the bullet points of his speech behind him. And right there, right in that moment, he understood with perfect clarity why his speech had evoked the unexpected reaction from the crowd.

If you omit the letter “L” from the word “public,” it won’t be flagged by spell check. It will, however, be picked up by anyone else reading the slides as you deliver your speech on the “pubic option.”

This could very well be you at your next sales presentation: pissed and embarrassed because you overlooked your employee’s failure to proofread his resume during the hiring process. So, check the candidate’s resume and cover letter for misspellings that spell check might have missed. In so doing you will make sure that you hire someone that’s thorough and doesn’t rely on spell check to do their job.

3. Preparedness

One of the first things I always do after an interviewee leaves is to ask every single person who came into contact with them what they thought. Why you might ask? You never know what little windows into your prospective employee this may provide.

Once I asked one of our receptionists what she thought of a particular interviewee. I was very surprised to hear what she had to say. She said she thought the interviewee was pleasant but did have some trouble when she first arrived: It seems that the prospective employee had no idea who she was interviewing with, so the receptionist had to call around the office for 10 minutes until she could figure out who to notify that their appointment had arrived.

I thought this displayed a lack of preparedness on the interviewee’s part, especially as she was interviewing for a job that had primary scheduling responsibilities for me and would require her to know and keep track of all of our most important customers.

In another case, after a 45-minute interview the interviewee stood and said, “Mark, thanks for the second interview.” Big problem: My name is actually Matt. Nevertheless, I shrugged it off–perhaps I had misheard the applicant, or maybe he had simply had a momentary lapse. However, when I walked him to the door he proudly reiterated my name, “Mark, again thanks. I look forward to hearing from you.” Every fiber in my being yearned to reply, “Well, if I meet this Mark fellow, I’ll be sure to have him call you.” I did not. I also did not call him back.

A candidate should know everything about you that they can find out and engage you on a level that you will enjoy and that moves you one step closer to offering them the job.

4. Phone and e-mail correspondence

Another thing that also gets overlooked is professionalism in e-mail and phone communications. I pay attention to the candidate’s e-mail address and how they answer their personal phone.

Sure we all have private lives, but we all have to be professional in dealing with employers–and, most importantly, prospective employers. So if a candidate’s e-mail address is “” or “,” think twice about hiring him. Gmail, Yahoo and other companies have a great price point for new e-mail addresses: free. There’s no excuse for not having a professional-looking e-mail address.

For me, an interview starts when I call you to set up the interview. Recently I called an applicant, and they must have been at a the reunion tour of Van Halen–because when the candidate answered, all I could hear was “Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Love” blasting through my phone. I mean, it was so loud I could actually see people in my office starting to bob their heads to the tunes.

After a few attempts shouting into the phone–“Is [Name Omitted] there?”–finally the music departed and I was able to hear once again. The heads stopped bobbing in my office and the person on the other end said, “Speaking.” Ahhhh. Well, I know they love music…and that they lack judgement.

5. Honesty is overrated

Yes, you want your potential employee to answer questions truthfully, but answering too truthfully may also show a lack of judgment. For instance, I often ask the hypothetical question, “If you were hired and six months after you were hired another opportunity presented itself, would you go on an interview for that opportunity?” You would be surprised at how many people say they would. Wrong answer!

Let’s take one of my more infamous examples. Once I was asking a prospective employee to explain an 18-month gap in his employment history. To this day I remember his response verbatim. It went like this: “Man, the whole work thing … ya’ know … like, wow.” I was left mouth agape and speechless. Needless to say: He did not get the job.

How to Hire People Without Hiring Them

BarryStaff of Cincinnati Weekly Newsletter 5/9/12
By Scot Feldmeyer

Have you ever found yourself in the situation where you wanted to hire a person but you just weren’t sure if it was a good thing to do at that particular time? Maybe the need is there for that person now, but is there going to be enough work down the road to support adding people to your payroll? None of us have a crystal ball to see what business is going be like down the road. Or maybe the person you’re contemplating hiring is a friend or relative of a current employee. You might want to hire them but you aren’t sure how well it will work out. Will their relationship with a current employee be a good thing our will it cause problems? Maybe you have another person who came to you with a terrific referral but you want to see for yourself how good they really are before you add them to your payroll and benefit plan. So what do you do?

The answer could be to bring the employee on through BarryStaff’s Payrolling Service. This way you can let us take the initial risk. We place the employee on OUR payroll so they can work for you while you give them a try. Since we didn’t really recruit them for you our markup is typically lower than our regular placements and you can make the switch to move them to your payroll whenever you are ready with no minimum on the hours they need to work through BarryStaff. We perform this service for many companies. Maybe it would be a good move for your company, too.

Here are some more likely headlines from the year 2035

– Spotted Owl Plague Threatens Northwestern United States Crops and Livestock
– 35 Year Study. Diet and Excercise Key to Weight Loss
– Supreme Court Rules Punishment of Criminals Viloates Their Civil Rights
– Upcoming NFL Draft Likely to Focus on Use of Mutants
– Average Height of NBA Players Now Nine Feet Seven Inches.
– Microsoft Announces Newest Version of Windows Crashes BEFORE Installation is Completed
– Congress Authorizes Direct Deposit of Illegal Contributions to Campaign Accounts
– New Federal Law Requires That All Nail clippers, Screwdrivers, Flyswatters, Hammers, and Rolled Up Newspapers Must Be Registered By 2036
– IRS sets Lowest Tax Rate at 85%

Hope we hear from you!

Finding Good Workers Can Be A Difficult Process

When it comes to employment, there are two sides of the story. Employers say, “Good help is hard to find,” while job-seekers think, “I can’t find a decent job out there.” No matter which side of the coin you’re on, finding good work and workers is a difficult process. If you’re hiring, one job opening could attract hundreds of applicants. Sifting through them to find a good fit is time consuming. On the other hand, a job hunter may feel like he or she is sending resumes into the black hole of the Internet, never to hear a response.
How can businesses and job hunters cut through the red tape of the hiring process? Many use an employment agency to alleviate the process. An employment agency is a firm hired by a company to help with its staffing needs. Employment agencies find people to fill all kinds of jobs, from temporary to full-time, in a number of career fields. Whether a company needs a an administrative assistant, a manager or a carpenter, an employment agency can find the right employee.
Let BarryStaff remove the difficulty of your hiring process.