Making a Great First Impression

Why are first impressions so important?

Once a first impression is made, it is very difficult to see someone in another way. If a job candidate walks into a hiring manager's office and trips on a chair, offers a limp handshake and wears too much cologne, forget it. That person will probably never get a second chance.

On the other hand, if a candidate enters the room with a sense of confidence, makes good eye contact and dresses appropriately, that makes a very favorable impression. After that, he or she could spill a cup of coffee and it wouldn't be so difficult to overcome because that first impression is already made.

First impressions are even more important when resumes and cover letters are the topic. They have to present your professional image to the hiring manager, so they must make the best impression possible.

How Will You Make a
Great First Impression?

How can you make that great first impression, especially when you have to do it on paper (with your cover letter and resume) rather than in person?

Start with following a few basic guidelines.

No matter how wonderful you are, unless you are able to get the attention of the person scanning your cover letter and resume, you have very limited opportunities to get the interview you want. Some of the basic concepts mentioned here seem like common sense. That's because they are.

The job-search process is not complicated.

first impression, great first impression

It is time consuming and involved at times, but it is fairly easy. Follow these guidelines and you will be that much closer to getting an interview. Why? Employers are looking for people who follow the basic tenets in place, not those who like to rock the boat.

Guidelines exist for a reason. They help everyone conform to certain standards so that the whole process (whatever it is) goes smoother. Follow them and you will succeed. Don't follow them and you limit yourself. You see, most everyone else is following the guidelines, too.

The main two reasons most failures occur is:

  1. Some individuals think they are clever and will try things their own way (thus ignoring the guidelines)

  2. Others are just plain lazy and refuse to spend any more time than necessary preparing their credentials in a format that is easy to read and presents their personal history in a way that is inviting.

If YOU make that GREAT FIRST IMPRESSION, then YOU will be far ahead of every other job candidate.

So, what guidelines lead to success in the job-search process? You want to make a great impression, right?

These do:
  • Be careful - Proofread your material. Whether it is your cover letter or your resume, make sure it is free of errors. Typos and grammatical errors are not the best way to get an interview. Look beyond the body copy, too. Is your address correct? What about your phone number? Did you spell the hiring manager's (or whatever the title may be) name correctly? Make sure you double check everything. This one item alone decides, in many cases, if an applicant makes it to the next cut or not.

  • Be prepared - Do some digging. This is a two-fold dig, too.

  • First, take some time to get to know YOU. Defining your professional and personal traits can add a great deal to your job success. How will you accomplish this? Think of yourself as the employer and ask yourself, "What do I need from an employee for this job to be done well?" Make a list of what the employer needs, then find what is within your own personal history that applies to those needs. For example, if the employer needs someone who is a self-starter, perhaps you can illustrate your ability to take initiative when you see that something needs to be done.

    Second, perform some research on the company you intend to work for and the position you want. How large is the organization? What do they produce, sell, market or offer? Who are their major competitors? What is the history of the company? Are they planning future expansion? Where do they stand in the market for their product or service? Find out what makes them who they are, then tailor your material to the organization and their needs. When it comes time for the interview, you will be more knowledgeable and better prepared.

  • Be real. You don't have to lie or distort the truth. Simply present yourself using key action words that define your personal and professional traits, experience and education and do it in a positive way and you will be successful in making a great first impression. You will also be successful in finding a great job.

  • Be smart. Do what needs to be done and do it well. If you want your resume to end up in the "Call for interview" pile, you have to do everything as thoroughly and professionally as possible. Make good choices in spending your time on things that matter, like your cover letter and resume. Only one person is hired for each job, remember? Sometimes second best isn't good enough. If you are willing to put for the extra effort that is needed to make your resume and cover letter easy to read and filled with energy – while portraying your personal history with flair – you will be far more successful than someone who settles for mediocrity. No one should settle for an average life when a vibrant life is available.

If you are successful in making a good first impression with your resume and cover letter, you will be very successful in the interview. Of course, that requires a different kind of preparation, but it will actually be much easier because of the steps you have taken to ensure your written materials are stellar.

You have everything it takes to succeed - including making a great first impression. If you are willing to apply yourself, you will find the job-search process is much, much easier.

Best of luck with your job search!

If you are finished reading about making a great First Impression, click here to read about Professional Traits

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