We’ve all heard of the phrase ‘You can’t judge a book by its cover’. Although the phrase says ‘you can’t’ – people do judge a book by its cover. We can’t help it, and we all do it – humans’ first impression of any object or person is taken with their visual sense. The way we have found a certain look or feel to be in the past, will be how we perceive anything we first see. When we meet someone for the first time, we either have a positive or a negative feeling. Either of these feelings are usually based off of how we perceive them overall, including their look, attitude, demeanor and personality. A poor first impression physically can alter the way in which we interpret a person’s personality as well. The entire first impression may not happen in the first few seconds of meeting someone. It may happen over the course of a quick introduction, a lunch meeting, or an entire first day of work. It can be nearly impossible to recover after making a poor first impression. Keep in mind, the people you meet do not know you at first, and your appearance and presentation is all they have to go off of in the beginning of any relationship.
In a work setting, when you first start a new job, something to keep in mind is that you will be making several first impressions throughout your entire first week, or even first month. Not everybody will meet you on your first day. With every new encounter, you are assessed and a new opinion of you is formed, over and over again! Halfway into your second week of work you may be introduced to someone new, and asked to do training with them, or even lunch with them. You will be introduced, and then spend an hour or two with this new person. During that entire time, it is important that you be attentive, look sharp, and present yourself in the best way possible. Pay close attention to your demeanor, your body language, and your responsiveness. That person may be your supervisor or peer one day, and they will always remember that first time spent with you, and their first impression of you.
When we think of making a first impression on someone, we typically think of how we look and act. This isn’t always how a first impression is made. Another very important first impression of you is reflected in your resume, and I wanted to make mention of this because it is a very large part of our industry. Working in the staffing industry, I know the importance of a good resume, especially a good front page. If my customer has only 10 minutes to review 25 resumes, you better believe that he is not going to take a fine tooth comb through every page. My customer is going to look at the first page, and maybe the second page, and make a judgment right then and there as to whether he wants to interview that candidate. If the information he is looking for is on page 7, our candidate will be overlooked. If the first page begins with spelling errors and the sentences don’t make sense, our candidate will be overlooked. The front page of any resume is a candidate’s first impression on the manager who may be interviewing them.
I once listened to a man speak on being your best, and I will always remember him saying “if you leave your home, even if only for a 5 minute trip to the grocery store, and you say to yourself before you go – I sure hope that nobody sees me, I look horrible!” – You are certainly not in a position to make a good first impression on anybody.
In my opinion, you never know when you will be making a first impression on someone in your career, or in your personal life. A customer or candidate could come into the office without notice. You could run into your future boss at Kroger. A quick run to 7-11 for some bread could put you in front of the CEO of your company that you have not met before, or your future mother or father in law! Dress professional, always be prepared to meet somebody new, smile and look your best every day. You should always be prepared to make a first impression!