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First Impressions Mean Everything in Your Job Search

Bad first impressionYou have at least five places to make a memorable first impression during your job search. That’s good, because if you blow the first impression, you can add that potential job to your Not Gonna Happen list. In no particular order, those opportunities are:

  1. Career Fairs
  2. Networking Events
  3. Face-to-Face Interviews
  4. Cover Letters
  5. Phone Interviews

Here's a list of what you can do to avoid leaving a bad first impression and get one step closer to securing the job:

Career Fairs, Networking Events, and Interviews

  • Dress appropriately. Wear a suit unless the company explicitly tells you to dress casually.
  • Smile, smile, smile!
  • Stand up and give a firm handshake to everyone you meet.
  • Focus positively on what you have to offer, but also listen to the other person (e.g., make it a conversation, not a one-way pitch).
  • Be respectful and kind to every person you meet when you arrive for an interview.
  • Be prepared with a mental list of questions to find out more about the job opportunities and companies.
  • Pretend your cell phone doesn't exist when you're in the presence of professionals who could impact your career, unless you're using it to save contact information or email your resume on the spot.
  • Strive to smell neutral, from your breath to your deodorant. Avoid cologne or perfume!

Cover Letters

  • Write well! Eliminate spelling and grammatical errors.
  • Demonstrate your knowledge of the company along with your qualifications for the job. Avoid the "me-me-me, I-I-I" syndrome.
  • Avoid wishy-washy statements (I believe, I think, etc). Exude confidence.
  • Focus on the positive; negative statements are an invitation for a negative first impression.
  • Thank the reader for their time.

Phone Interviews

  • Stay focused and speak clearly.
  • Avoid taking the call in busy places with a lot of background noise.
  • Don't interrupt when the other person is talking! 
  • Be prepared for the call so you don't stumble through your answers.
  • Use a landline phone if possible to avoid any awkward cell phone delays and dropped calls.
  • Thank the caller and ask what the next step in the process is.
  • Take notes that you can refer to when you meet the interviewer in person.

In a nutshell: Act professional, confident, and respectful.

Did I miss anything? Let me know in a comment!

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