When The First Impression Happens Before You Even Meet the Interviewer in Person, How Do You Make a Good One?

You spend a lot of time preparing for a job interview. Planning to get there on time. Dressing for success. Researching the company. Studying common questions and rehearsing your answers.

And of course you do. First impressions are powerful… and persistent. Even when faced with contradictory information, people tend to stick with their first impression perceptions of someone, as found by research from the University of Toronto.  

But are you doing enough to make a great first impression?

Whether you’re aware of it or not, your first impression begins well before your interview. Which means you need to start thinking about your first impression even before you hit “apply.”

By managing your online presence, optimizing your resume, and being mindful of your interactions with recruiters, you can create a stellar first impression and increase your chances of getting an interview. Here’s how.

Manage your online presence
If you’re online, people can find information about you. Cringey social media pages you made as a teenager. Unsavory party pics posted by your friends. Shadows of your past lingering in cyberspace forever.

And if this content is out there, recruiters may find it.

71% of hiring professionals consider social media an effective candidate-screening tool, and 55% of those people use social media to research applicants before deciding to interview them.

Because of this, inventorying your online presence is a crucial first step in your job search.

Your audit should begin with a simple Google search of your name. Remove any reputation-tarnishing profiles and double check no one can access the pages you private.

You’ll also want to peruse your friend’s social media pages and check you haven’t been tagged in any pictures you’d rather not be associated with.

But don’t just look for things to delete in your online audit. This is also a perfect opportunity to update any professional profiles you have online. These days, an incomplete or outdated page on a professional site is not only useless… but can seem suspicious, like you have something to hide.

And remember, your online presence isn’t one and done. You add to it every time you do something online. So you may also want to watch out for things you “like” on social media. Some content may be amusing, but you may not want recruiters seeing it too.

Optimize your resume
Your resume is likely the first touchpoint a recruiter will have with you.

Most recruiters spend an average of 7.4 seconds screening your resume before deciding to consider your application or not. If your resume doesn’t make an immediate impact, it may get filtered into the “not interested” pile.

Fortunately, there are a few simple ways to make your resume stand out for all the right reasons.

Formatting is especially important so recruiters can scan your resume more easily and access your information at a glance. Recruiters spend the most time reading resumes with a simple layout and clearly marked sections and title.

To make your resume more scannable, include the right sections. A proper resume should include a list of your contact information, a summary statement, a work experience section, an education section, and a skills section. Since people tend to scan documents in an F-pattern or E-pattern, top performing resumes include bolded job titles with bulleted lists of accomplishments underneath.

However, your resume is not all about formatting. You also need to include the information recruiters need to assess you. Tailoring your resume to each individual job description you apply to is a great way to show recruiters that you’re truly interested in and fit for the position… and will create a spectacular first impression too. 

Be courteous and professional
Interactions with recruiters and other hiring decision-makers begin before your interview. You may have recruiters popping into your inbox to market job opportunities to you. Or you may have hiring managers calling you to set up interviews.

Whether these interactions are welcomed or not, always respond professionally and kindly.

If someone is following up on an application, be prompt and enthusiastic in your response.

If a recruiter messages you about a job you’re not interested in, still respond to them. If you end up needing a job down the road, they may remember you and gladly work with you.

First impressions are critical. In just a few moments, people form a lasting impression of you. However, by taking the right steps, managing and perfecting your first impression is easy.

This article was written by Danielle Murphy.

Danielle Murphy is a content writer and copywriter with a passion for helping businesses meet their marketing goals with writing. When she’s not working (or writing for fun), she’s hiking or hobby farming around her home in New Hampshire. 

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