Making a Good First Impression

| by Shannon Williams

We all know the saying, you only have one chance to make a first impression. For me, my mother taught me that. She encouraged me to be sure I was always neat in my appearance and appropriately dressed for every situation. Decades later, I still live by the standards she taught me—most days! But, in our modern world, making a first impression includes an electronic first impression often before or even in lieu of a face to face impression.

In my work, I help a lot of organization recruit executive and development leaders. Here are some things I have noticed about making a first electronic impression:

1. Keep your resume clean and simple—fancy colors, fonts, and graphics don’t always upload well especially on online application portals. Whatever you do, save your resume as a pdf.

2. Customize your resume and cover letter every time—especially if you are trying to enter a new field outside of your direct work experience. Clearly explain how your skills and experience align with the position you are pursuing, but remember less is more in terms of length.

3. LinkedIn is the go to source for recruiting. Be sure your profile represents you well. Make connections—it matters how many you have. Upload a picture. I have actually talked to recruiters who will not pursue a candidate who does not have a picture on their profile. Honestly!

4. Use a professional picture on your social profiles—or least be sure you don’t use a selfie. No hiring decision maker wants to see a selfie of you in your bathing suit.

5. Once you become a candidate, follow the organization on social media; sign up for the newsletter. They will notice, especially in smaller organizations.

6. If you have jumped around a lot, address it head on. Changing jobs is more common today, but is still a red flag for many baby boomers who are decision makers in hiring.

7. If you have a flaw in your background, own it, explain it and move on. Most everything comes up through a Google search—even expunged records. You can’t hide your skeletons, so don’t try.

8. Follow instructions. If it says no phone calls, don’t call.

9. You will have to answer the salary question at some point. You can say negotiable, but eventually you will have to give a number. You might as well cut to the chase. It may save you and the recruiter time.

10. Say thank you when you interview. Handwritten notes are noticed. Email thanks get there faster. Take the time to do both.

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