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First Impressions—No Second Chances

Paula Morgan, Senior Vice President, Human ResourcesToday, since much of our interaction with each other occurs via email, text or through social media channels, when should we be concerned about the impressions we’re creating?

Well, one place for certain is when applying for a job.

Most employers are advertising their job openings via the Internet and social media, and as a result, job applicants are expressing their interest in job postings through these same channels. It’s important to remember that your application and resume, and occasionally cover letter, remain your first opportunity to create a positive impression with a prospective employer—regardless of the channel being used to deliver them.

The cryptic messages we so comfortably use to communicate with friends and family rarely demonstrate our command of the language at the level necessary to compete in the job market. So put your best foot, or in this case, words, forward. And, there are a few more things to keep in mind when you’re applying for jobs.

Complete applications in their entirety. In this job market, you want to avail yourself of every opportunity to be considered a serious and qualified candidate. Incomplete applications, when employers are receiving upwards of 100 or more for each opening, will likely be quickly passed over. List up to 10 years of job history, if you have it, and don’t be afraid to list salaries.

Line up your references in advance. Always contact a reference before listing them on an application to confirm that they’re willing to participate. Some individuals are limited by their employers and will be required to refer the recruiter to Human Resources. Most prospective employers are seeking information on the reference’s actual experience with you, not just dates of employment and last position held, so choose references who can and will provide this information.

Follow up promptly. When you get a call in response to your application, respond quickly. Delayed responses can come across as indifference and will likely lead the recruiter to call the next qualified candidate. When you’re on the phone with the recruiter, use the opportunity to “sell” yourself as the “best” candidate for the job. Steer away from self-promoting without providing credible examples to demonstrate your qualifications.

When you land that in-person interview, dress appropriately for the position—the hiring manager should be able to picture you doing the job that you applied for. When in doubt, it may be best to err on the side of conservatism.

Always remember that first impressions are important, whether in person or online—so however you’re communicating with a prospective employer, always remain professional and present the best you possible.