You know that saying, “You never get a second chance to make a first impression?” It’s especially true when you’re job hunting. Whether it’s a facial expression, lack of eye contact, or arriving to a meeting unprepared, many factors play a role in whether you’ll get that next interview or job offer. Past research suggests that it takes just seconds to make a first impression. And one study conducted by Princeton psychologists Janine Willis and Alexander Todorov revealed that all it takes is a tenth of a second to determine traits like trustworthiness.
More than likely, that first impression starts before you meet in person. It’s called your online presence, and recruiters rely on it to research potential job candidates. In fact, 71% of U.S. hiring decision-makers agree that looking at social media profiles is an effective way to screen applicants, according to a survey from The Harris Poll. And more than half (55%) of those using social media to research applicants have found content that caused them not to hire the applicant.
Realistically, it could take several months of job hunting to find your ideal role. By following these tips, you’ll be more likely to make a stellar first impression and speed up that timeline.
Revise your social media profiles
There’s nothing worse than having a recruiter land on your Facebook page only to see posts that might be considered “inappropriate.” Before launching your job-hunting campaign, Google yourself. That will give you a good idea of what your personal brand looks like. Then make your social media accounts private or hide any posts you wouldn’t want plastered on the front page of the New York Times. If you have old accounts from your teenage years, it might be time to deactivate them. Not surprisingly, 95% of recruiters are on LinkedIn looking for job candidates. So, be sure to update your profile by adding a relevant headline, skills, photo (profile and background) and summary section. Recruiters also read recommendations, so include at least five or more from former bosses, colleagues, or partners.
Invest in a tailored resume
With the economy tightening and job openings becoming more competitive, recruiters are flooded with resumes. As a result, it’s more important than ever to stand out from other applicants. Not to mention that recruiters spend a mere 7.4 seconds screening your resume, according to a Ladders eye-tracking study. That means tailoring your resume and avoiding meaningless buzzwords like detail-oriented, results-driven and team player. Instead, create an eye-catching resume by:
- Being specific
- Using industry-specific keywords
- Showing quantitative results
That way, the recruiter will be excited about your candidacy and want to learn more.
Arrive to the interview prepared
Another way to make a great impression is to learn everything you can about the organization and the interviewers. Don’t just look at the company website. Also, review their social media accounts, news articles and other media coverage. In addition, talk to people in your network to get a sense of the company culture. Be ready to explain why you’re interested in this particular role and company and why you’d be the best candidate. Finally, practice your answers to common interview questions. It will help you feel more comfortable and confident prior to the meeting.
Do a trial run
If you are conducting a video interview, test the equipment ahead of time to ensure there are no technical glitches. Choose a location that is quiet with adequate lighting. Practice for the video interview as you would an in-person meeting. The number one thing recruiters hate to see in a video interview is distractions. Fortunately, this is something you can easily avoid. Take steps to remove interruptions by:
- Setting your phones to silent
- Removing pets or putting them in another room
- Closing your windows to eliminate outside noises
- Putting a sign on your front door alerting people not to ring the doorbell
During the interview, maintain eye contact by looking at the webcam and avoid fidgeting. Listen actively by nodding when appropriate so they know you’re giving them your full attention. Finally, it’s a good idea to smile throughout the interview, but not so much that it appears unnatural.
Follow up after the interview
It can be tempting to take a wait-and-see approach after a final interview. But there are some things you can do to give yourself a competitive advantage. First, send personalized thank you emails to everyone you interviewed with. If you haven’t already, it’s also a good idea to connect with them on LinkedIn. At the same time, you may want to attach additional information to strengthen your candidacy, like a news article, portfolio or work samples. Then if you haven’t heard anything within the time frame they provided, send a short follow-up email. Most importantly, keep your options open and don’t stop job hunting.
When job hunting, creating a positive first impression helps you stand out in a sea of qualified candidates. Don’t settle for just sending out a generic resume. By building your personal brand and going the extra mile, you’ll be rewarded with opportunities beyond what you thought possible.