The First Impression Can Be a Dealbreaker: Six Ways to Make a Good One

job search tipsRemember the old adage -- you only get ONE chance to make a good FIRST impression? Well, it's never been truer than today with so many candidates vying for just a few positions. Yet, surprisingly, people still have lots to learn about what to do to catch and hold the eye of a potential new employer.

"Patients who come to me are obviously aware that they need to make a good first impression," says Dr. Stephen Ip, a plastic surgeon in Newport Beach, Calif. "However, you'd be surprised how many forget that there is more to it than just physical perfection." He gets many patients coming to him that are all about improving their looks, and less about improving their demeanor. He's surprised that so many of them think that better looks alone will win the day.

The holiday season offers more opportunities for parties, gatherings and other interesting networking events. The person volunteering to feed the homeless alongside you just might be looking to hire someone. The guy in the funny Christmas sweater at your cousin's caroling party could be your new boss.

With so much potential for meet-and-greets this holiday season, keep these more-than-skin-deep tips in mind:

1. Always be on time.

Even if it means being early and cooling your heels. No one likes tardiness or excuses. "If an interviewee or even someone at a party where they're trying to get noticed doesn't have the wherewithal to be punctual, then what does that say about them as employees?" asks executive recruiter Cary Schraf.

2. Clothes make the man/woman.

A neat, clean-cut appearance gives you a high mark right off the top, but make sure you dress to suit the occasion. For example, you may be a bohemian at heart, but for a business gathering, leave the sandals at home. Sometimes, though, your outward appearance can make a difference in the most unlikely setting. "I usually don't dress up to go to the movies, but one day I did. Before the movie started, I struck up a conversation with the woman next to me who turned out to be looking for someone with my qualifications, and I got the job. I'm convinced that my looking presentable had a lot to do with that," says sales rep Kate Proto. The lesson here: Be prepared.

3. Make eye contact.

Even if you have butterflies in your stomach when meeting new people, do not look over their shoulder or head or anywhere but at them. "I know I've lost a few jobs because I get nervous and fidget, but I'm learning to focus on the person, listen attentively and not let my eyes wander," says Tim Deciccio.

4. Speak clearly, distinctly and succinctly.

You may be a fan of Marlon Brando's mumbling or Ben Stein's monotone -- but these won't fly if you're trying to make a good first impression. At the same time, don't monopolize the conversation. Be lively; but above all, be a good listener.

5. Do NOT chew gum in public.

Ever. As Prince William's new fiancee Kate Middleton found out, the British royal family were not amused when her mother was seen on-camera chewing gum. "One does not chew gum in public," a royal spokesman said. Neither should you, fellow commoner, if you want an employer to take you seriously. A side note: Do pay attention to bad breath. That is a royal turn-off as well.

6. Get a good grip.

"I call it the dead-fish handshake, you know the kind where you shake someone's hand and there's no life there? " notes recruiter Schraf. No one expects or wants you to have a Conan the Barbarian grip, but a firm grasp of the hand denotes energy and confidence.

Now that you've made a good first impression, don't relax. Use the same principles you'd use in a social setting that you would in a job interview. Especially, be sure to think carefully about the questions you ask. In other words, don't do what one candidate did while looking for a receptionist's job at Dr. Ip's cosmetic surgery practice: "Can I get free breast implants?" she asked. Don't ask for free medical/legal/whatever advice at a party, either. It will immediately cancel out all the points you made with that great first impression.

Add a Comment

*0 / 3000 Character Maximum


Filter by:
Tony D W

Tony D W was NOT sent by this e-mail on 11-30-10 at 10:21.PM. An e-mail on 11-30-10 at 9:17 PM. was Not sent by this e-mail in regard to the article about The Seven Steps to a Good Cover Letter. I just want to make note of this for the record because my initials are the same. Again, the comment inregarg to the article is not me. I am sending this message to the publisher, writer of the article, or who is handling the replies. If any questions, please reply. Thanks for your cooperation.

December 01 2010 at 4:09 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

IF people need this kind of information, no wonder the employeement rate is climbing and we as a country are getting dumber

December 01 2010 at 9:59 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

There WAS a company in Standish, Maine that went overseas to China. It is really to bad. That company put alot of workers out on the streets. This happened a few years back.

November 30 2010 at 7:38 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I have interviewed hundreds of applicants for jobs. I have very painful arthritis in my hands. A strong handshake can literally take me to the floor with tears in my eyes. If you try to out-grip me, you will win the handshake contest but you will not get the job. Better to use a very comfortable grip and with sicere humility, let the interviewer win the grip contest every time. Otherwise you will seem to be macho, uncaring, insensitive and challenging at the very beginning of the interview. It's not up to the interviewer to set the handshake guidelines, rather the interviewee should be fully aware of the environment and behave appropriately. White hair may be a good tip off that the interviewer may not like being outgripped when you first meet. And once you start talking, don't make statements that you can't back up with appropriate examples and explanations if and when you are presented with a "probe follow-up question" that can tell if you are BSing. For instance, let's you are you asked if you are familiar with making Power Point presentations? You answer "Yes." Then you might be asked to please explain what you would do if during a sales presentation to an important computer-savy group, your main screen went dark but you could still see the individual presentation slides on your laptop screen? A good answer might determine whether or not you get the job

November 30 2010 at 7:34 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Forgot: Use deodorant, do not burp unless you are in North Africa after a meal, Silent farts only, and be ready to blame another person. Smile, unless you have yellow teeth or no teeth......
PS: All the above is irrelevant if you first do your homework and get the dirty laundry secrets on your future boss.

November 30 2010 at 7:17 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Remember the old adage -- you only get ONE chance to make a good FIRST impression? Well, it's never been truer than today with so many candidates vying for just a few. I love this and so does my boyfriend, he is almost 11 years older and 75 pounds overweight, but what the heck he's still has a heartbeat.

November 30 2010 at 5:40 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Bob Thornton

I am on lots of medicine that is destroying my skin. So when I shake hands I say be gentle, as I had my skin broken by a hard handshake. It tears like wet toilet paper. It also looks over 100 years old, but just my hands & arms.

November 30 2010 at 5:15 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Sarah-- THANK YOU!! Your gum-chewing, jean-wearing, tattooed dumb-ass is one less for the rest of us to compete with. Keep waving your freak flag high.!!

November 30 2010 at 4:37 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Sherrie's comment
N Vetto

The writer should know she might have only one chance to write well for a good first impression. "Adage" means "old saying," so "old adage" is redundant.

November 30 2010 at 5:15 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
knows a bit about it

sounds like you have some issues here. This is not an article on how to live your life. It is tips for making a first impression. If you want to make a good first impression, these are some good ideas. If you are so bent on expressing your "rights", I hope you can say, "You want fries with that?"

November 30 2010 at 4:27 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Ed M.

Depends on what flavor u are and if u have any rotten front teeth.

November 30 2010 at 4:24 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Search Articles

Picks From the Web