Best and Worst: 6 Ways to Make a Lasting Impression in Your Job Search

17 Feb

Who doesn’t like to make a good impression? It’s what we strive for in our social lives, professional lives, and every other life we may be leading. We want people to think good things about us, and we know how quickly they’ll judge us because we do the same thing to people we come into contact with.

I’m not about to tell you how to make good impressions in your social life – I’ll trust that you can figure that out on your own.

What we’re talking about today is making a good impression in your professional life, and more specifically when you’re trying to get a job. There are plenty of ways to get noticed during a job search. But getting noticed isn’t always a good thing, and sometimes the line between making a great impression and an irreparable one is thin – tread with care.

Top 3 Ways To Make a Good Impression:

  1. Be referred. The single best way to stand out is to have someone familiar to the recruiter or hiring manager say that you’re awesome (or at least competent). When I get a resume from someone I know in the company or the industry, I’m going to give that resume a pretty thorough look. If it’s at all a match for any positions I’m looking to fill, I’m going to call that person in for an interview.
  2. Be original. This is a personal preference, but I like to see some wit in my applicants. Give me a fantastically original and compelling summary line on your resume; an opening line in your cover letter that makes me take notice; a way of phrasing an experience on your resume that I’ve never seen before; something that tells me there’s an interesting person behind the qualifications – a person that I would want to work with.
  3. Be accessible. This should be the easiest thing in the world, but so many people have problems with it. If your resume is right for the job I’m going to call you, so please have an accurate phone number and email address on your resume. If you’re a designer, writer, or other type of profession that has/should have a portfolio, please link to your online portfolio on your resume. This may seem like a complete no-brainer, but I’m amazed at how many resumes I get without complete contact information.

Top 3 Ways to Make a Terrible Impression:

  1. Be too persistent. This can come in many forms. You can be too persistent by finding my phone number at the office (which isn’t hard if you really want to) and calling several times a day to “check on your candidacy.” If you really want to ramp up the effort, call several times a day, don’t leave a message, and hang up when you get my voicemail. My caller I.D. and I have a good laugh about that one. You can also be too persistent by separately calling/emailing everyone who knows anyone remotely connected with the position in question (this is especially effective when you don’t know any of those people at all.) I’ve gotten the same person’s resume forwarded to me 15 times in a day from various colleagues all with the same message: “I don’t know this person, but wanted to pass it along.” Spamming isn’t cute.
  2. Be over the top. Rainbows, butterflies, skulls, crossbones, and Santa Claus all have one thing in common. They all will ruin a resume (much the way that glitter and confetti will ruin your thank-you note.) Also, play around with your font colors – I’m printing with a black & white printer onto white paper, so light colored fonts can leave me guessing about what the resume actually says. Professional email address? Who needs one? YouNeed2HireMeIfUKnowWhatsGood4U@email.com is not a professional email address. And for bonus points, do a little cyber-stalking before you send your resume. Tell me about how cute my kid is; how you think it’s so great that I have such a loving and happy marriage (I seriously had a candidate email those things to me once.) Not creepy at all.
  3. Mis-manage your online presence. Really want to turn me off? Follow my company’s recruiting Twitter feed, then when I go to follow you back have every other tweet be a profanity laced, slang-infused, TMI offering rant about what you did/drank last night and what you think about that other girl/guy. This shows a huge lack of judgment. If that’s what you want to tweet about, go for it. But don’t try to draw a prospective employer’s attention to your tweets unless you really want to make a bad impression.

So there you have it. Some sure-fire ways to make an impression. Hope you’re making the one you want!

How have you made an impression, good or bad? I’d love to hear your stories!

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4 Responses to “Best and Worst: 6 Ways to Make a Lasting Impression in Your Job Search”

  1. Heather Li February 17, 2011 at 10:54 am #

    The best career move I’ve made for myself so far is seeking out my own journalism mentor through a former journalism instructor, who is very well known in the Canadian magazine industry.

    That referral from my instructor gave me instant credibility and linked to me my mentor who has been the most amazing resource. The relationship is 100x better than I could have dreamed, and in less than three months of knowing her, I’ve already made a dozen industry connections through her and am in the hiring process for three separate journalism jobs, all which would be a great next step for my burgeoning career.

    So my advice is, identify a solid, successful mentor and take all the advice he or she gives you.

    • HR Dave February 17, 2011 at 11:03 am #

      Hi Heather – Thanks for the comment! I think that’s fantastic advice. If you can find a champion for your cause that will take you under his/her wing and bestow the respect s/he’s gained in the industry to you, that’s the best thing you can ask for. And goes a long way to making great impressions! We are judged by the company we keep.

  2. Fyza February 20, 2011 at 6:14 pm #

    Alright, so this isn’t really a question or a comment, more of a request. Is there any way that you can set up an RSS feed for your site? I know you have a subscription available, but honestly, I don’t read any of the newsletters or articles that come in through my inbox (which begs the question of why I even sign up in the first place).

    RSS on the other hand, gets my full attention.

    • HR Dave February 22, 2011 at 11:56 am #

      Your wish is my command. Added today.

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