You get one chance to make a first impression. That’s it. No do-overs. For a potential employer, it’s often the little things which have huge impact – and there are only two options. Either you make a favorable, positive impression or you crash and burn. Even if I do admit that maybe – just maybe – there is a middle ground, that’s definitely not where you want to be! The middle ground is for forgettable folks, right?
In my practice as a resume writer, I’ve written resumes for everything from morticians to CEOs, sales executives and professors. You name it, I’ve probably written it. And what do all those folks have in common? They ALL need to make a great first impression with a potential employer. The CEO needs to connect with the Board of Directors. The sales executive needs to connect with the hiring manager. The mortician needs to connect with the funeral home executive director. The professor needs to connect with the Dean or head of the department.
Back to my practice – one of my big differentiators is that I often meet clients in person. For whatever reason, this is something that many of my colleagues just refuse to do. (No clue why.) I get the opportunity to see exactly what kind of first impression that my clients will make. Here’s what I’ve learned over the past 12 years as a professional resume writer in Phoenix.
- Guys, pay attention to your eyebrows. That one stray eyebrow hair is MESMERIZING and we can’t stop looking at it. In fact, I won’t hear a single thing you say because I.Cannot.Stop.Looking.
- Please, please, please don’t try to impress me with a crushing handshake. In a meeting with a prospective recruiting client recently, I swear that the company owner felt the need to assert authority by breaking all the bones in my hand. Please impress me with your personal qualities and not the handshake of Attila the Hun.
- If the eyes are windows into the soul, then your glasses are windows into your personal habits. I’ve been a member of the “four eyes” club since 2nd grade so believe when I say that I understand the struggle. But gosh darn it, please come to your interview with clean lenses.
- Ladies (in the interests of 100% disclosure) – I WILL pay attention to your purse. If it looks like a black hole or you have to dig and dig and dig to find business cards (or whatever), it will make me wonder about your overall organizational skills. The fix? Clean your purse out before an interview.
- Everything is not a question. Millennials, this one is for you! For the love of all that is holy, your speech patterns are hurting your chances of getting hired. I have no idea why y’all end each sentence as though you are asking a question, but that is NOT the right way to build authority or trust. As a hiring manager, I need folks that are confident in their roles and I have – zero – confidence in you when everything you say sounds like it needs validation.
- Let’s talk about your phone. So many, many things can go sideways with your phone so I’ll just leave a few here. I don’t want to hear your ringer, text notification or ding that you have an email. If you do have a reason to leave it on like a sick kid or parent, please make sure that your ring tone isn’t offensive or embarrassing like…well…I’ll let you fill in the blanks. Because, believe me, I’ll have an opinion and that’s something you definitely can’t control.
- Your appearance matters. I hate to be the one to say this, but I’m nothing if not honest. Your hair matters. Your clothes matter. Your jewelry matters. Your shoes matter. I don’t care if the interview is in person or by Zoom – you need to make sure that you are in the right decade. I’m comfortably in my 40s and I left my big hair in the 1980s. (I never actually had big hair. That part isn’t true, but I did leave my goth-self behind.)
Hopefully, this wasn’t too much truth! Just keep in mind that you only get one chance to make a first impression. To learn a bit more about how to ace the interview, I’ve got a couple of articles that may help: Tell Me About Yourself and Job Interview Red Flags.