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How to conduct business in the age of computers


QUESTION: With the advance of technology, the job process has changed tremendously in the last decade. It’s challenging to communicate with companies that are hiring. Since resumes and applications are filed electronically, there isn’t much recourse in how to follow-up. Formal interviews are not very common. Any thoughts on how to conduct business etiquette in the computer world?

CALLIE’S ANSWER: When you submit a resume online, usually you receive an automated email confirming it was received. Also, on the website, there should be an email to contact if you would prefer asking questions and receiving updates. Don’t be afraid to contact them directly. Sell yourself!

LILLIE-BETH’S ANSWER: That is tough. If you know someone who works at the company, try reaching out to that person and see if they can forward your resume in addition to your online submission. Also, make sure your resume matches the keywords of what the job description requires. That way, any artificial intelligence algorithm will match your resume to the job’s requirements. I think it is also OK to follow up with an email to a hiring manager noting that you have submitted your resume online and asking if they have any additional questions for you. This would add a personal touch. Good luck! The job market is competitive and tough, and you have to keep trying.

HELEN’S ANSWER: There are many ways to submit a resume online, and you need to find the one that maximizes your personality in printed form. Submit it in a timely manner and request an answer if possible. Since there are so many applications for jobs these days, it is important to conduct your business in a polite and kind manner. Hopefully, your resume will stand out and you will be invited to an interview.

GUEST’S ANSWER: Scott Kinnaird, software executive: Formal interviews are as common as they've ever been. It's the process that leads to that formal interview that's changed.

Over the last decade the candidate filtering process has been (thankfully) digitized, helping both hiring managers and job candidates cast a wider net to reach more people, faster. However, because follow-through is on a computer rather than in person, a phenomena referred to as "ghosting" is on the rise. Ghosting is when a candidate or hiring manager engages the other party and at some point in the dialog they simply stop responding, without any explanation.

Even young digital natives find this disconcerting and rude.

The proper way to conduct business, whether it's talent acquisition or job searching, is to leverage digital tools to amplify your voice and extend your reach, while retaining the age-old golden-rule etiquette habits most all of us have been taught, regardless of our age. That is to say, if you send a message to someone and they reply, you should respond in kind. If you're not interested in continuing a conversation (online or in person), say so and explain why. It's that simple.

Computers aren't the problem. Lack of courage and laziness causes these communication outages more than new digital communication methods. The solution is be kind to others and treat them the way you want to be treated, whether it's via the internet or in person.

Callie Athey is 20-something, Lillie-Beth Brinkman is in her 40s, and social columnist Helen Ford Wallace is 60-plus. To ask an etiquette question, email