My dad once asked me a question before my first day at a new school, in a new state, “How many chances do you have to make a first impression?” The answer of course is once. Like it or not, first impressions matter in all situations both personal and professional, and they happen in seconds no matter if you are introduced via email or in person. Nowhere is it more important to make a first impression then when you’re looking for a new job. So here are a few tips to help you make a great first impression:
When inquiring about information via email…Check your spelling
Before you interview anywhere, there is a great chance that you will be communicating via email with your contact. As this may be happening before phone calls, or in person meetings, it is very important to explain yourself well, be respectful, and double check for typing mistakes. If you have a typo, incorrect punctuation or spelling in any initial emails, you may be dead where you sit. When I was in between jobs last year, I wrote an email to a marketing company. I misspelled a word in the subject heading.. What happened you ask? Absolutely nothing.
Look clean, and freshly pressed
I am all for people expressing themselves through their clothing, but when going to an interview, or a meet and greet with potential contacts or employers, you need dress in a way that matches your intention. If you are shooting for a job with a more conservative, corporate company, you will need to wear a suit and laundered shirt. Are you a marketing professional? Look clean and pressed, but be your creative self. Are you looking to meet up with a professional networking group after work? Business casual may be the way you want to go. Know your audience, and act accordingly. For a visual reference click here.
Look people in the eye and sit up straight
This tip is from my mother. She despised when friends of myself or my brother (granted the kids were in middle school) would not look her in the eye, slouch around, drag their feet, and mumble. She trained my brother and I to never (almost never) do these things when we were young. While I can get comfortable in my surroundings now, I still believe that when meeting other professionals for the first time it’s important to show them that you are happy to meet them, that you are listening and that you have yourself together.
Relax a little
Finally, after my etiquette tutorial, remember to have fun with it. You are going out there to meet new people. As long as you carry yourself confidently, listen and provide value to a conversation there is no telling where your first impression can lead you.