The old adage “you don’t get a second chance to make a first impression” is at least one thing we know is true in a world filled with uncertainty. Psychologist Edward Thorndike proposed the theory of the “halo effect” nearly one hundred years ago to help explain this very idea. In short, when we have a positive first impression of someone, we carry that impression over with us into other thoughts or feelings we have about them. On the other hand, if we have a negative first impression of someone, it is very difficult to overcome a sense of apprehension about them.
While Thorndike’s research is a bit more complex than that, his findings have important implications for people who are just starting a new job. If you don’t make a good first impression, your life could become much more complicated than it should be.
Here are 7 tips to help you put your best foot forward.
Dress for Success
You may have a stellar resume and all of the credentials in the world, but if you don’t look the part you may not have much success. While you can view your professional attire as an opportunity to express your personality, it is important to remember to wear clothes that are appropriate for the occasion. They should be properly fitted, clean, and ultimately show that you have pride in your appearance. However, being well-dressed is more than just about showing people your sense of fashion. When you are well-dressed, you exude confidence. In fact, those who dress well even appear smarter, more competent, and trustworthy.
Communicate with Confidence
When meeting people for the first time, speaking with confidence and purpose is a valuable part of making a great impression. Even though you may feel nervous or anxious about your new job, focusing on the basics of effective communication will make you seem much more confident. When speaking, make sure that you are clear, enunciate, and don’t fill any silence with nervous chatter. Far too often, when we become nervous, we mumble, make awkward small talk, or soften our tone to the point where people simply can’t understand us.
Every sentence should be spoken with confidence, purpose, and at the appropriate level. When presented with an opportunity to offer an opinion or idea, make sure that you aren’t too over-the-top, but also show others what you have to bring to the table. Don’t speak out of turn and listen for cues in the conversation where you might be able to provide the most insight. Your boss and colleagues should walk away after first hearing you speak with a belief that you are confident in your position and responsibilities. By speaking clearly and confidently, this impression is much easier to give.
Practice Active Listening
Active listening is also an invaluable skill for making a positive impression at your new job. Unfortunately, many of us “hear” when someone speaks, but we don’t “listen.” Active listening involves being completely engaged in a conversation and giving our full attention to the person speaking. When having a conversation with someone, they should feel valued and as if their message is actually being heard. After hearing their thoughts and ideas, take the time to repeat back what they said and assure them that you understand.
By taking the time to truly listen to someone without interjecting your own thoughts and practicing empathy, you are much more likely to build a strong relationship and make a great impression.
Get to Know Your Colleagues
When you first walk into your new job, chances are that you aren’t going to know much about the people you will be working with. From now on, many of the people you meet will play an active role in your life and likely have an influence on your decision making process. In fact, many of them will likely become your friends. Therefore, it is incredibly important to get to know them. Take advantage of any opportunity that comes your way to engage in small-talk. Ask them about their hobbies, plans for the weekend, or even how their children are doing in school. Finding some common ground and a topic you are both interested in lays the foundation for a friendship. People value those who take time out of their day to show a genuine interest in their life.
Believe it or not, there is actually a scientific reason behind why a smile is so powerful. Countless scientific studies have explored how facial patterns and smiling relates to a person’s emotions and signs of enjoyment. Genuine smiles can even be a clear window “into a person’s core disposition.” But, when it comes to making a good impression at your new job, the science is simple. People simply enjoy being around those that smile. Those that walk into the room with a genuine smile appear more confident and are much more likely to be seen as a positive influence. When you first meet your colleagues and new boss, make sure you have a friendly expression.
A Proper Handshake
A handshake is perhaps the most traditional way to greet someone when meeting them for the first time or interacting in a professional environment. But, did you know that there is actually a science behind it? When we shake hands with someone, we actually exchange serotonin. Serotonin is a powerful chemical which plays an important role in our feelings of trust. In so many words, when we shake hands, we are showing trust. In the business world, when someone denies us a handshake, it offends us because it actually subconsciously makes us distrust them. It is in our nature to not trust those who do not extend a genuine handshake. When making an impression at your new job, a proper handshake is invaluable. It shouldn’t be too firm, nor too soft, and should always be appropriate for the situation. You wouldn’t want to extend an incredibly firm or soft handshake to the wrong person. Your greeting should ultimately show a sign of sincerity and professionalism.
Making a positive impression at your new job doesn’t end after your first day or even after your first week is over. After you’ve gotten comfortable and had the opportunity to meet your colleagues, following up with the hiring manager and leadership team should be a top priority. Drafting a professional email to thank them for the opportunity and express excitement about the future reiterates your commitment to the organization and shows you are ready to be a valuable contributor to the team.
If you are in the process of starting a new job or are looking for a new career, our team at Professional Resume Writers is here to help. We are focused on being a dedicated partner in advancing your career and meeting the challenges that lay ahead. Learn how we can help you move up the ladder of success with confidence.