The official blog of Abacus Group — a place to share our knowledge and thoughts on trends in recruiting

December 02, 2016

One Chance to Make a Phenomenal First Impression: Use It Wisely

First impressions are critical moments; whether you’re meeting with a recruiter, interviewing with a potential employer, networking with professionals at an industry-related event, or starting a new job, just a few moments will define others’ preliminary opinions of you. In general, to make a “great” first impression is to convey oneself as motivated, intelligent, amicable, confident, and authentic.

Here are four keys to making your next first impression a phenomenal one:

Look the part.

You know about “dressing for success,” but wearing professional clothing will not earn bonus points. Neatness is imperative; ensure that your clothing is neatly pressed, that your stockings are run-free, that your shoes are shined, or that your tie fits properly. Err on the side of caution by hiding tattoos or non-ear piercings. Exercise excellent hygiene, too! Rarely are bad breath, unkempt hair, or bitten nails forgotten. Lastly, be conservative with makeup, perfume, or cologne. 

Have a script.

Undoubtedly, someone at your meeting will ask you who you are, what you do, or for other generic information. This is why everyone needs a 30- to 60-second elevator speech describing their professional background, current job or most recent job, hobbies, interests, and most prominent personal characteristics. To make your elevator speech especially memorable, you can close out with an interesting fact about yourself. But don’t give everything away in this introduction; an effective elevator speech elicits questions from the listen and spurs further conversation.

Eyes on them.

Maintain strong eye contact (and wear a smile!) to nonverbally communicate interest, enthusiasm, and honesty. Looking at the ground signifies a lack of confidence while looking around the room tells the other person or people that you have no interest in speaking with them. Placing one’s gaze anywhere other than someone’s eyes drastically reduces perceptions of truth and honesty. Solid eye contact throughout the exchange will not only help listeners to trust you, but to notice and remember you more easily.

Figure out how to make them say “me too.”

Looking good, sounding good, and being trustworthy will establish your professional credibility, but the final piece—finding common ground—establishes a personal connection. It’s natural to like people who are like you. Therefore, you’ll want to ask questions to determine what you and the other person or people have in common. Maybe you went to the same school, grew up in the same area, or share a common obscure interest. You never know where a small similarity may take you in the conversation.

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