Shine While You Dine :

Perfecting Etiquette and Landing Dream Jobs

Etiquette Educator Robert A. Shutt

  Do you know which side your name tag should go on? Which fork to use first? Or how you should eat your soup? At the Center for Career and Professional Development’s recent Shine While You Dine event students learned the importance of dining etiquette and that these little details are important to landing your dream job.

    Etiquette Educator Robert A. Shutt spoke to a group of nearly 150 students and table hosts on Tuesday, February 25 during a three-course meal in the Mandela Room on how relevant manners and etiquette truly are.

    “It is relevant because research suggests that 85% of your success and your career may be based on your interpersonal skills,” Shutt said. “It’s about the subtle art of communication, that’s what etiquette is.”


   Students networked with table leaders, distinguished professionals ranging from Fortune 500 company employees to Binghamton faculty, between lessons from Mr. Shutt, who noted that there are three foundations to dining etiquette- courtesy, focus, and respect. He said that respect understands a hierarchy.

Students netwokred with table leader

  “What we are practicing tonight is business etiquette, I like to think of it as career success etiquette, and the hierarchy here is based on power and authority,” Shutt said. 

  Shutt spoke about the importance of understanding who the table leader is during meals in a professional setting, and following cues from the leader. For example, Shutt advised “don’t remove the napkin until the leader removes the napkin.”

  He also said that it is important to remember what the meal is really about.


  “Remember that business dining is about conversation, business, and relationships, not the food or the beverage,” Shutt said.


  He joked that the quantity of utensils and plates can be daunting, but navigating the table is manageable with a few simple tricks. For example, your left hand makes a “b” when you link your index finger and thumb, thus your bread plate is on your left.


  “You can watch Downton Abbey to see all the potential utensils that might be there but basically work outside to in,” Shutt said.

Potential utensils

  Shutt also said that ordering could affect the impression you make on employers.


  “Ordering is very commonly reported by human resources as one of the first assessments or tests” Shutt said, advising students to order neither the least expensive nor most expensive items. He also advised students to ask for recommendations, or follow the cues of the leader if they don’t know what to order.


  Other tests employers utilized included seasoning, which Shutt advised not to do until after tasting the food. Equally important, according to Shutt, is the size of your bites.


  “Take smaller bites,” Shutt said. “You don’t want to have food in your mouth in case somebody asks you a question.”


  As for alcohol? That’s a definite no. 

  “The reason why I was discourage it, one is your single most important goal, to shine while you dine,” Shutt said. “When you drink alcohol you’re no longer at your best. It might also affect you differently than you think.”

  Shutt said that even if the table leader orders a bottle of wine, you may decline in. In fact, according to Shutt, this could be a test employers present.


  And when it’s time to leave, don’t forget your manners!

  “Thank you times two!” Shutt said. “Thank the leader for the conversation and the meal. The most important thank you is the handwritten thank you they’ll receive in the mail.”


  Students who attended agreed that the event was not only enjoyable, but also informative.

  “I learned how to place your forks and spoons, I feel like there was a lot I learned that was valuable, especially moderation,” freshman Wei Li said.

  Yang Xu, a graduate student, added, “How to behave during a meal is important during the entire process.”

  And according to Shutt, dining etiquette can be summed up easily.

  “The main thing to remember is you have one goal: to shine while you dine,” Shutt said.


  Additional resources on how to improve your professionalism and dining etiquette include:

Last Updated: 2/6/17