Anyone can make a memorable impression on an employer: Show up in shorts and flip flops, read your text messages during your interview, or come in wearing pink and green hair extensions. He'll definitely remember you, but not for the right reasons. Instead, ensure that he remembers you in positive ways by dressing well, behaving professionally and showing up prepared for whatever is thrown at you. Once you've wowed him in person, cement the good impression by following up with a well-written, upbeat thank-you note. And when you get the job, continue to wow the boss by living up to the promise you showed in the interview: Dress appropriately, be on time and exceed his expectations.
Dress for success. Yes, that old adage is still true. Even though a lot of offices have more casual "dress codes" than in past years, you'll create a favorable impression with a potential employer by showing up dressed professionally. Leave the jeans and short skirts at home; instead, wear a suit or a dress and jacket. And don't stop at the clothes: Keep jewelry to a minimum, make sure your hair is clean and controlled, and this is not the time to try out that cool new black lipstick you just bought.
Present yourself as a confident professional. Remember all that stuff about how to dress that your mom used to tell you when you went to church, a wedding or some other formal event. Pretend she's talking in your ear now and listen to her: Stand up straight, make eye contact and use a firm handshake when greeting people. Keep smiling and say hello to everyone you meet, from the receptionist at the front desk to the big boss in the corner office. Be prepared to make intelligent conversation, using complete sentences and without mumbling or slang. This is a potential boss, not your new BFF, so be respectful and polite.
Prepare for your interview or your first day on the job by researching the company, its current activities and its future direction. Then, as your math teacher used to say, show your work. In other words, answer the employer's questions in ways that demonstrate you've done your homework and know what the job is about. Highlight aspects of your experience or education that are directly relevant to the company's goals and objectives. Don't forget, it's not just about answering questions. Make a positive impression by asking a few of your own that demonstrate your interest in the job and knowledge of the company. Make notes of his responses.
Maintain the boss's initial positive impression from your first day on the job. Always show up on time -- if not early -- and don't rush to be the first one out the door at 5 p.m. Continue to dress for success and put yourself forward as a confident, capable professional. Keep your boss current on the status of major projects, always meet deadlines and then go a step further: Show initiative and ask him for additional responsibilities. Offer to take on an extra task or challenge, or solve a long-standing problem that's been vexing him. You'll confirm his first impression and affirm his decision to select you for the position.
- Quintessential Careers: Job-Seeker Tips for Making Good First Impressions
- AOL Jobs: The First Impression Can Be a Dealbreaker -- Six Ways to Make a Good One
- National Career Fairs: First Impressions, Lasting Impact!
- Syracuse.com: Eight Tips for Making a Good Impression in a Job Interview
- Mind Tools: Making a Great First Impression
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