Books are, indeed, judged by their covers. In the job market, that means your first impression carries weight.
A big job-hunting barrier can be navigating online application processes. But in every job search there are face-to-face, make-or-break encounters.
Some first impressions occur at job fairs. You won’t get interviewed at depth at job fairs, but how you present yourself can influence how the recruiter handles your resume.
•Dress professionally. No caps, athletic shoes, sweats or unkempt clothes. Comb your hair before making the rounds.
•Turn off your cell phone!
•Don’t carry a bulging briefcase. Carry a slim folder holding your resumes. Don’t carry a water bottle or coffee mug. And don’t load up on giveaway trinkets from employers’ booths – at least not until you’re ready to leave.
•Greet recruiters with a firm handshake and a friendly face. Practice your one- or two-sentence “speech” about who you are and what you do.
•Don’t whine. Don’t talk about being jobless. Don’t dump on your former employer. Be positive.
The most important first impression, of course, comes in a job interview:
•You will not have friends, children, parents or spouse in tow.
•Decline any offer for drinks or food while you’re waiting. Keep one hand free for your briefcase or folder and the other one free to shake hands.
•Again, shake firmly when the interviewer calls you in. Look him or her in the eyes. Be friendly without being smarmy. Don’t sit until offered a chair.
•Stand and sit tall. Exude confidence. And do your homework about the company and the job.
NO MOOD TO PARTY: Across the nation, companies are canceling or scaling back annual end-of-the-year holiday celebrations to cut costs, or just to accommodate the overall mood of people too worried about money to feel like a party.
Two annual holiday-party surveys back up anecdotal evidence that a record number of companies have dropped holiday parties this year – more even than in 2001 after the Sept. 11 terrorist bombings.
Companies like Enterprise Rent-A-Car, Adidas Group and Viacom put the brakes on their end-of-year parties. Others are scaling back how much they spend, what they serve or how many people they invite.