Avoid Non-Work Related Tasks At Work

The workplace is a public place. Yet, we all have personal items to attend to, and sometimes those personal items seem to need attention during work.

The job-hunting cover letter and resumé are a perfect example. The office has a nice printer. It’s where your computer is, and where you spend an inordinate amount of your waking time. So it makes sense that you might want to write and print that cover letter or resumé at work.

This is when Murphy’s Laws—that set of maxims that basically says, “If anything can go wrong it will, and it will go wrong at the worst possible time”—are guaranteed to apply themselves. Sure enough the one time you don’t want your boss to see what’s in the printer is the one time he collects the stack, and there, right on top, is your cover letter and/or resumé.


Now, not all bosses are going to be perturbed by this turn of events, but undoubtedly you’ll assume he or she is perturbed. After all, your boss is the keeper of your time, company time, and the bottom line. And you’ll wonder what the fallout might be for you. From the point of view that you are doing a non-work related task on company equipment during work hours, your boss has a valid reason to be perturbed.

So resist the urge to do your job search at work. Follow these rules to keep work and non-work separated:

  • Word process and print your materials outside of work. Quick print services can do a professional job outputting your letter and resumé if you can’t do it at home.
  • Use your own stationery, not your company’s letterhead, for any written communications.
  • Only provide your personal telephone number. Don’t have your prospective employer call your work number.
  • Use a personal email account. Don’t use your work email for your job search.
  • Give a personal card printed with your home address, personal email, and phone number to prospective employers instead of your company business card.
  • Don’t try to sneak out of work for a job interview. If necessary, use your personal time and take off a half or full day. It’ll help you present the most positive image of yourself because you’ll be focused on the interview instead of worrying if you’ll get caught.

In addition, remember to:

  • Arrive five minutes early for the interview; it will guarantee you’re on time.
  • Dress one notch up so you look like you fit in.
  • Practice questions you’ll be asked and develop some questions you want to ask.
  • When you greet your interviewer(s) stand up, look them in the eye, smile, offer a firm handshake and say your name clearly.
  • Finally, write that thank-you note and send it within 24 hours. Email it if it’s appropriate for the company you’re applying to or when time is of the essence. Otherwise, send a thank-you note in the mail.
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