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There’s always office etiquette questions that the Human Resources department are stellar at answering. Here’s a few of those questions with very insightful answers from two Human Resource gurus. Both Cynthia and Helen are Human Resources Executives who, collectively, have over 18 years experience working in Media, Food and Beverage and Education.

As Shared With Rashida Maples, Esq.

How to politely decline someone’s offer to mentor you, especially if you feel you don’t have much in common with them (personally/professionally) or prefer the mentorship of someone else in the company?

You should decline any offer with gratitude. Someone has thought enough about you to invest time into your development. Even if you can’t see a commonality now, inspiration for work and success comes in the most random forms. But if you really don’t think you can commit to a mentoring relationship, say, “Thank you for that offer, I actually have an offer out on a mentor that I feel better suits my needs. I would love to still reach out to you in the future should our work call for that.” – Cynthia

The best way to respectfully decline a job/internship offer without burning any bridges?

It’s best to let the person know who offered you the job quickly that you are declining, and if appropriate share the reason for declining as people like to know the reason why. Thank them for the opportunity and let them know you would like to stay connected. If someone is willing to offer you a job now, then they will likely think about you in the future…it’s good to stay in touch. – Helen

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The best way to avoid/handle office politics as a new hire or intern?

Perception is reality in the workplace. Meaning, people form opinions about you at work, like in life in general, based on the data points they have of you. So your goal would be to give the organization as many positive data points as possible and avoid anything that can be interpreted as a negative data point. Some things to keep in mind: 1) avoid engaging in office gossip – politely dismiss yourself should these unproductive topics arise – it’s best to have an image that is personable, professional and positive. 2) be honest at all times – that means don’t say yes to work and then not deliver and be forthright with important information…transparency works well with gaining trust and building a good personal brand. Try to get “quick wins” by over delivering on tasks early on. Lastly, 3) engage your manager when deciding priorities and managing your work and time…they should be looped in and updated should they ever be asked about you your work and also they can help with any barriers to completing your work. Remember, give good data points–professional, positive, personable and productive. – Cynthia

The best way to inquire and/or guarantee a job offer after an internship has ended.

When you accept an internship, confirm that it is realistic to potentially be offered a full-time opportunity at the end of the internship. Many employers hire interns, but are not able to offer them full-time opportunities at the end of the internship.

Assuming the internship program is a feeder pipeline for full-time opportunities. Put your best foot forward and make sure you are asking for feedback throughout your internship…what’s going well and what you can improve upon. If the feedback is very positive it’s likely you are on the path to receiving an offer. Full-time opportunities are always competitive so never take your foot off the gas peddle even if you are receiving positive feedback. – Helen

How to convince a company you are a worthy asset to them if you have educational/professional experience from other disciplines?

First I would say be realistic. Most employers do have a profile of the kind of experiences they are looking for to fill various roles in their organization. If you do not have those experiences, then it will be very challenging to compete with people who do have those experiences.

However, it’s always helpful to network, and what I mean by that is talk to people who do the work you want to do. They may have recommendations on how you can make the switch and become more competitive. They may also be willing to take a chance on a person who does not have the experiences they are typically looking for because they know you! – Helen

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