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Traditional etiquette is very much alive, and millennials should learn it

From wondering if you’re allowed to bring a plus one to your friend’s wedding to hoping your text message counts as a formal RSVP, etiquette is incredibly important for us twenty-somethings navigating the decade of job interviews, weddings and baby showers galore. Yet, traditional etiquette has gotten somewhat lost in today’s digital world, where we exchange texts more than face time. We just don’t talk about it as much as we should, making these types of events more awkward than they need to be. 

Etiquette 700 x300I’m far from an expert in these arenas, but I’m tired of seeing so many fellow twenty-somethings nervously navigate these milestones. We must break the ice and share our experiences more often. Here’s my greatest lessons-turned-tips, both big and mostly small:

Job Interviews:

  • Yes, cover letters matter. These should be one page in length and express three basic things: 1) Your interest in the position 2) your experience, and 3) how you could benefit the organization.
  • Your resume should not exceed one page in length – seriously. Unless you are 60 and have an insanely awesome career under your belt, do not submit a long ass resume.
  • When it’s your turn to ask questions, that means ask questions. And, no, it’s not weird at all for you to inquire about compensation, benefits and opportunities for advancement. If hired, you cannot count on pay raises or promotions to come around quickly or often, so your starting salary will be key.
  • Don’t even think about bouncing from your previous employer. Two weeks notices are important, as are formal letters of resignation. These letters live in your HR personnel file, which could potentially be accessed in the future by a new employer utilizing the same HR company. Choose your parting words wisely.

Weddings

  • No, your casual text message does not count as an RSVP. However you received the invite is how you should reply. So, if you received an invite in the mail, use that damn reply card that they included for you. If you received an e-vite online, take the two seconds to click Yes or No.
  • The reply deadline matters. Too many people slack on this. The bride and groom have bills and deposits to pay, and without an accurate headcount, they can’t do so. Don’t be that person that they have to chase in the weeks leading up to the wedding.
  • It is not standard to bring a plus one. An easy way to tell if you are offered a date is by looking at the envelope of your invite. Is it addressed to just you? Then chances are they have only budgeted for you. If it’s addressed to you “and guest” or, more obviously, you and your significant other, then yes, you should RSVP for the two of you. If it’s unclear, then just ask.
  • Yes, you should bring a gift, unless it is a destination wedding. Budget accordingly if you are able to attend both the shower and wedding. However, if you are traveling from out of town for a destination wedding, it is not expected that you bring a gift.
  • You are a guest, not a photographer. Wedding photography can cost upwards of thousands of dollars. It’s fine to take a few captures on your cell phone, especially if the couple has a wedding hashtag going, but do not be that asshole holding your cell phone up during the entire ceremony, pouring into the aisle and photo bombing the professional photographer’s work.

Baby showers

  • Most baby showers are still traditionally hosted by a relative or friend. The point of them is to simply celebrate the coming miracle, and also to help the new parents-to-be gear up for baby. They are not the same thing as “gender reveal parties,” which are a newer trend to the scene all about the couple’s mid-pregnancy decision to unveil the sex of their baby.
  • Gifts are secondary and should not be the focal point. In fact, don’t be surprised if you attend a shower and your present stays wrapped the whole time. Prepare to spend the time hanging out, eating food, playing games, and sharing laughs.
  • Seek their registry to avoid being the 20th person to gift them a blanket. It’s not that your blanket or cute baby clothes won’t be adored or appreciated, but these goods quickly get outgrown and are likely all that the couple has received thus far, as they are understandably the cutest buys. But, there are dozens of more practical – and still cute – items that mom and dad could really use.
  • Dads can be showered, too. A more modern development, perhaps driven by the fact that dads are playing much more of an active role around the home and family unit today, baby showers are not just for the ladies anymore. So don’t be surprised if you attend some co-ed ones.
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