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Money Matters

When is it appropriate for you to pick up the check?

One of the most important ingredients of a strong networking approach is the informational interview. Meeting with someone you know (or have known) through work, or someone who is knowledgeable about certain industry, market or company can pay immeasurable benefits.

But the job search world has changed so much for so many of us that the practices and protocols that we knew years (or decades) ago may seem antiquated or flat-out unacceptable today.

Start with the simple fact of contacting that individual. Do you call? Should you email? How best to reach that person and how does that person prefer to communicate? Should you call the office number or cell phone? Yikes!

Not surprisingly, in such cases everything will hinge on the individual. What’s appropriate for one, may be different from another. You may have to do some homework, or sleuthing to learn the best approach.

Let’s say that you do land that precious meeting. Even if it’s just a short chat over a cup of coffee, who picks up the tab? When you’re not working, watching all your dollars can go beyond frugality all the way to necessity. And, after all, the people with whom you are meeting have jobs, regular paychecks. Why shouldn’t they pay? What is the protocol that governs this delicate situation?

The simple answer is: if you requested the meeting, you should pay. Plain and simple. However, if your guest offers to pay, it’s OK to resist, but it’s also OK to accede as well. It may depend on your relationship with your guest. If your guest offers to pick up the tab, it would be incumbent upon you to offer to leave the tip. It’s always good to have some skin in the game.

Sometimes it’s difficult to know what’s right and proper – especially in the ever-changing world of the job market. The best tools to help you navigate this stormy sea are common sense and sound judgment. As trite as that may sound, if you have a good command of both, you’ll probably end up on top.


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