In order to present a polished and compelling first impression, you will need to impart a combination of positive verbal and nonverbal messages. The following three steps will help you create that powerful first impression—one that shows you as the strong, attractive and valuable candidate you are.
#1) Your verbal message: Begin by crafting a personal brand that highlights your strengths and distinguishes you from the competition. Creating your unique brand is a great way to build a cohesive, targeted message that will present your skills and experience at their best. The following are several features you’ll want to include.
- Identify your strongest technical/ knowledge-based skills. How will your specialized training, educational background, and specific technical skills benefit a potential employer?
- Pinpoint your special strengths. What makes your personal style, work ethic, ability to get along with others, etc. create added value to an organization?
- Determine what makes you different. What distinguishes you from other candidates? Do you have a unique combination of cross-functional skill sets? Does your breadth of experience set you apart? Which attributes and talents make you an exceptional candidate? How can you contribute in ways that others could not?
- What is your core message? What is the key impression you want people to take away from meeting you? Why would they want to meet with you again? What makes you the best person for the job?
#2) Your nonverbal communication: Once you have your brand in place, you’ll need your nonverbal messages to complement and enhance what you’re saying about yourself. Your unspoken manner should exude your confidence in the skills and added value you bring as a candidate of experience, your enthusiasm for the opportunity and what you can contribute, and your youthful energy and can-do attitude.
You’ll want your confidence to show by the way you carry yourself, a firm handshake, open body language (nix the crossed arms) and eye contact.
You can display your enthusiasm through your vocal tone (warm and sincere) and a ready smile.
Your youthful energy and can-do attitude can be shown by your overall appearance. Make certain your dress is up-to-date, well pressed and clean, your eyewear and accessories are likewise current and conservative, and your hair is styled fashionably and befitting the position for which you’re applying. By keeping your look stylish and current, it shows that you care about yourself and the image you project to the world. Also, make certain your smile is an asset and (if necessary) whiten your teeth.
#3) For an extra powerful presence, consider this: There’s exciting research coming out of Harvard and the University of California at Berkeley around the dynamics of confidence and power inherent to certain forms of nonverbal communication.
It has long been accepted that our nonverbal messages affect how others view us. But new research is confirming the fact that we affect our own thoughts and outlook by the way we hold ourselves. In other words, our bodies can affect our thoughts just as much as our thoughts will affect our bodies. Take a look at this fascinating TED talk by Harvard University’s Amy Cuddy and her findings in power dynamics and nonverbal messages.
Presenting a powerful and polished first impression is, indeed, a combination of factors. So craft a compelling brand that plays to your strengths; augment your verbal statement through empowering nonverbal messages and set yourself apart. Most of all, anticipate success. A confident, warm and upbeat attitude is the best first impression of them all!
And for even more key strategies to successfully navigate today’s difficult job market, be sure to check out Land the Job You Love: 10 Surefire Strategies for Jobseekers Over 50.This step-by-step guide shows you how you can turn your age into an advantage and brand yourself for success.