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Professional Conduct and Etiquette

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It is imperative that you conduct your job search in an ethical and professional manner. Your behavior will directly affect how employers perceive you, as well as your classmates, your department and Yale University. By participating in any of the activities and services of OCS, you agree to adhere to the following guidelines. 


Job Application Process

  • All materials in your job applications, including resumes, cover letters, and writing samples should be accurate, complete, and truthful. Be sure information regarding your GPA and dates of employment are correct. Do not overstate your responsibilities. All job application materials must be your own work.
  • Once you decide to accept a job or internship offer, notify the employer by phone and follow up with a letter, which can be in the form of an email. An employer may have a formal acceptance letter which they will ask you to sign, along with additional paperwork confirming the terms of employment, including salary and start date.
  • After accepting, inform other employers to which you’ve applied that you are withdrawing from their consideration.
  • It is unethical to continue interviewing after you’ve accepted an offer. Once you accept an offer, you have made a commitment to join that employer. Reneging on an offer (i.e., accepting an offer and then rejecting it) is unprofessional, and damages your reputation and the reputation of Yale University. 

Professional Etiquette

The professional etiquette guidelines listed below may apply in a variety of situations during the job search process, including networking events and interviews. Please note, protocols may vary internationally.

First Impressions

  • Making a good first impression is important in all of your professional encounters, and treat everyone you meet with respect.
  • Timeliness is key, so arrive on time or several minutes early to all of your engagements. Late cancelations and no shows for meetings or interviews are unprofessional and may damage your reputation to a potential employer.
  • Both the verbal and non-verbal messages you send to a professional contact matter.
    • Make sure your attire sends the right message and is appropriate for the event you're attending.
    • Practice your handshake to make sure you’re comfortable and confident when engaging in the common greeting.
    • Eye contact and posture play a part in how others perceive you and send messages about your confidence and comfort.
    • Make eye contact with the person with whom you’re speaking, smile and nod appropriately to show your engagement while listening.
    • Make a point to sit up straight, and be wary of folding your arms across your chest, as this may make you appear unapproachable.


  • In all forms of communication, exhibit professionalism and timeliness in your correspondence. Whenever possible, try to respond as quickly as possible to requests for information, and take care to follow any guidelines or regulations when handling confidential information.
  • When communicating face-to-face or via video-conference or phone, limit your use of filler words such as “um,” “like,” and “you know,” as they take away from the confident, polished communication skills you’re trying to demonstrate.
  • Leave your phone on silent during meetings and avoid checking for missed messages, as this may make you appear distracted.
  • Your voicemail should demonstrate professionalism and clarity as potential employers may reach your voicemail.
  • Email correspondence should demonstrate proper spelling and grammar and avoid using emoticons.
  • After an interview, communicate with everyone who participated by sending thank you notes to show your interest and professionalism.
  • Thank you notes should be sent ideally within 24 hours of your interview and within 48 hours at most. As with all of your professional correspondence, thank you notes should be error-free and grammatically perfect.

Link: Review sample thank you letters and other correspondence.