A must-have for employment seekers: Power Etiquette

The wisdom in this volume applies equally to job-hunting etiquette and how to behave when you are on the job

Power Etiquette by Dana May Casperson falls into the category of ‘books you did not have any idea you needed, but once you read it, you know it is an important addition to your business and career bookshelf’. If you have any doubts, just read the business etiquette quiz that kicks off Casperson’s book. Sample question—‘After an interview, how long should I wait before I call and ask if I am hired?

The wisdom in this volume applies equally to job-hunting etiquette and how to behave when you are on the job. Casperson’s subtitle, ‘What You Don’t know can kill your Career’ may be a bit of an overstatement, but unmannerly behavior can certainly wound your career.

Appropriately, the first chapter deals with making that all-important first impression, covering everything from personal grooming to shaking hands. One especially valuable piece of advice is to keep an emergency kit – with such essentials as a sewing kit, breath mints, and a lint brush – handy for those times when something goes wrong with your attire or grooming.

Casperson’s chapter on clothing addresses not just, business attire but building a simple yet versatile business wardrobe for men and women, complete wardrobe should look like. She also provides some helpful insight on the dilemma of how to dress for ‘casual day’. Disappointingly, however, she offers no specifics for job-interview attire, and her later chapter on interviewing glosses over this topic as well.

Some chapters focus on topics that, while useful, are better and more comprehensively covered in other books. Chapters on business writing and preparing for the job are cases in point. Other chapters, such as those on e-mail ‘netiquette’ and speaking are timely and right on target. The chapter on speaking covers everything from telephone etiquette and voice-mail to video conferencing and cell phone use.

The chapter that probably most qualifies this book as a ‘must-have’ contains Casperson’s low-down on meal manners. Especially helpful are line drawings, such as those that show the functions of all those mysterious pieces of silverware and glassware found in formal dining situations. A guide to tipping is also invaluable. Rounding out this essential volume are chapters on office finesse, business travel, and after-hours activities. She also provides bibliography with guides to proper behavior all over the globe.

An etiquette guide might not be the first book you think about adding to your career library, but once you have gone through Power Etiquette, you will wonder how you survived all these years without people thinking you were a complete slob. And if you are just starting your career, Casperson’s book gives you the opportunity to be genteel and elegant from the get-go.

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