What type of first impression are you making?

Many people say that you can tell a lot about someone in just the first few minutes of meeting them. I agree. Body language, tone of voice, attire, level of self-confidence, ability to convey a sense of believability and trust are just some of the snapshots we give or receive that go a long way to creating that critical first impression.

Job seekers often do not realize that basically everything they do, say or write is considered when a hiring manager looks holistically at candidates for an open position. Below are a couple of real life examples of impressions made:

A job seeker had a bullet point in their resume that read, “I sold $50,000 worth of product X each month.” When I asked her to provide me with some perspective of that accomplishment by ranking that level of production against the other five salespeople in her former company, she replied, “I was fourth.” A bit surprised, I remarked, “Fourth out of six salespeople…that means your sales volume was below average!” Her reaction to my comment was simply, “Wow, I hadn’t thought about that.”

A job seeker includes in his resume’s “Career Summary” that he is a “results-oriented team leader.” Yet, there is no mention anywhere else within the content of the two-page document of ANY results for any accomplishment or anything about leading a team. No quantifications of his “claims” to be results-oriented or having expertise as a team leader. This is not a good strategy for making a hiring manager believe that you are his/her “ideal” candidate.

Why do people attend job seekers’ group meetings dressed like they just came from a cookout? This is a business meeting. The presenters are most often employed executives and/or hiring managers. Do these folks ever look around the room and wonder, “If that speaker (potential hiring manager or someone with connections to other hiring managers) looks at all of the attendees, observes that some/most come dressed in professional attire and then sees me in jeans or shorts and a T-shirt…what type of first impression will they have?”

Be your own toughest critic. Put yourself in the shoes of the potential hiring manager. Would you be impressed with you?

Here are a couple of tips to help make a great first impression:

  • Check, double-check and then have a couple of other people (who you trust to be excellent proof readers) check and edit your resume and cover letter.
  • Do a thorough review of your “digital life.” Ensure that the “story” being told about you on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter is consistent with the story being told by your resume, during networking conversations and interview discussions.
  • Have you proven everything that you claim you can do in your resume? Ensure that each of your key achievement/accomplishment bullet points contains specific examples of how you applied those skills to produce exceptional results (results that are quantified with metrics).

Be aware, be consistent, be impressive.

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Volume 3, Issue 19, Posted 2:52 PM, 09.20.2011