“Don’t judge a book by its cover!” -Yeah right! In today’s highly competitive and cut-throat business world, every detail of the book’s cover is not only analyzed, but scrutinized for clues to its contents. The first impression is crucial to landing a job offer or even just a second interview. Everything is important in a first meeting, from timeliness to a firm handshake. A firm handshake exudes confidence and professionalism. Every action can somehow lead to an assumption on your value as a candidate. However, now that you are probably getting that nervous shaky feeling in your stomach and contemplating the thought of throwing up your Taco Bell, relax. There are many reliable ways to cover all your bases on that highly-anticipated first meeting with a future employer.
It all starts with your resume. It is the “first” first impression. Your resume gives a potential employer the chance to see you on a piece of paper. It’s as if you could send a man/woman a picture of yourself before the first date. What would you want that picture to convey about you?
- It’s important to be honest on your resume. Although you should always aim to verbally enhance your achievements, don’t go so far as to stretch the truth. Just like you wouldn’t send a future date a picture of a model instead of a picture of yourself.
- Try to keep your resume at one page and don’t leave a lot of blank space. You want your resume to convey the idea that you are organized, and you have excellent writing skills. It should be clean, succinct, easy to read, and a professional representation of what you do
- Don’t use a “Word” formatted template. Don’t conform to the masses! Be unique. It shows that you are not too lazy to sit down and format your own resume.
- Use a professional email address. Please don’t use an email address like email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org. No matter how good your resume looks- your employers will never take you seriously. If you don’t have a professional email address, typically one that includes your name, get one!
So now that you look good on paper, it’s equally as important to look good in real life. You wouldn’t dream of wearing your holey house cleaning sweats on a first date so take the same approach for your first interview. Take a little time before hand to get yourself looking sharp. This will not only show your potential employer that you care, but looking your best will give you an extra confidence boost. Don’t leave anything to chance! Even if you are told that the company is laid back and casual, ALWAYS dress professionally. Both men and women should wear suits. And be conservative!!!! This doesn’t necessarily mean ladies have to wear pearls, but cover up the tattoos and try to minimize the piercings.
Never forget what perhaps might be one of life’s greatest lessons – or at least the one your Boy Scout leaders drilled into your head – “Be prepared!” A few tips that might help you to achieve that goal as are follows:
- Bring several clean unwrinkled copies of your resume, and give one to your interviewer before he or she even asks. Never assume that the employer will bring his or her own copy.
- Consider driving by your interview location the day before so you can figure out where to park and you don’t have to worry about change and parking meters.
- If commuting, leave in plenty of time to account for traffic. Try not to arrive at your interview a half an hour early. Remember your future employer can be anywhere in the range of obsessive compulsive time freak or the person who’s consistently late and gets annoyed when others are too early. I would suggest arriving 5-10 minutes before your scheduled time.
- In the interview ask a lot of questions and don’t forget to get the names of all your interviewers so you can send thank you notes a couple days after the meeting.
Most importantly, call your recruiter after the interview to debrief your success!
I wish all of you the best of luck in making incredible first impressions and remember: you never get a second chance to make a first impression!