Job Seekers: Here’s How to Make Your First Impressions Count

First impressions are tough enough to nail once – do you have what it takes to do it multiple times? The very nature of recruitment allows employers to connect with candidates and uncover their professional identities step by step. This means during each stage of the hiring process, you need to make sure you’re putting your best foot forward.

Research says that people solidify their first impression of an individual upon meeting within 7 seconds. The following tips can help you make the most of these first few moments – take a look!


A strong resume is, at first glance, highly professional looking. This is a business document, and should present as such. Take some time to make a header featuring your name and contact information. You don’t need a design background for this – any word processor will do the trick!

Other common mistakes that can sully your first impressions during this stage are inconsistent font types and sizes, typos, and poor formatting. A good practice is to export your document (unless otherwise specified by the job posting) into a PDF file. This ensures that the formatting will not shift or change when opened on another device, so the hiring manager can read your application as intended.

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Phone screening

Phone screenings are tricky, as they can often catch you off guard. Perhaps you might be at work or on your commute – because of this, the way you handle the beginning of the conversation can leave a huge impression on the interviewer.

If you are able to take the call, politely ask to put them on hold if you need to move to a quiet or more appropriate spot. Should you be unable to take the call, take a moment to arrange an alternative time and arrangement that works for both of you. Your professionalism during this time is a key indicator of how you handle unexpected events and how you solve everyday issues.

Scheduling the interview

Getting a callback is one of the most exciting parts of the job hunt. If you haven’t had a phone screening or any other communication with the employer up until this point, this will likely be the first time the recruiter will have a chance to observe how you handle yourself.

Whether you’re responding through email, text messaging, or a phone call, remember to be clear and concise. One useful tactic is offering a few different dates and times you are available to the employer – this shows that you are flexible and willing to work with their schedule. On top of that, it displays your ability to take initiative.

TIP: Applying for jobs through HigherMe? Employers hiring through our website will often contact candidates for interviews through email or text message, and allow you to pick your own meeting time-slot from a range of available dates and times. Start applying now!

Face-to-face meeting

By now, you’ve had a few engagements through various channels with the employer. However, the face-to-face interview can feel the most daunting, as it involves a longer and more in-depth conversation. By this point, the employer will have a general sense of your personality and what you bring to the table – but this is your opportunity to add some additional layers to help them fully get to know you.

Plan your travel route ahead and aim to be at your destination 10-15 minutes early – this will provide a buffer in case of delays, and everyone knows tardiness can have a huge effect on your first impressions and overall candidacy for the role.

Wearing an appropriate outfit seems like a no-brainer – however, you’d be surprised to hear how often individuals show up in jeans and a t-shirt. It’s important to dress for the job you want, as your main goal for the interview is to help the employer visualize you in the role you’ve applied for.

Lastly, a great handshake can go a long way. A firm grip accompanied by a friendly smile will help you exude confidence and professionalism – plus, it boosts your image if you’re applying for customer or client-based roles.

What tactics do you use during your job hunt to enhance your first impressions? Be sure to like HigherMe on Facebook and follow us on Twitter for the latest career trends and job opportunities!

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