Careers

The ABC of first impressions

A good handshake should neither be too lose nor too tight. Photo: Shashi Ashiwal  

Do you know how long it takes to form a first impression? Three seconds. Even if you don’t speak a word, your dressing, grooming, facial expressions and body language contribute to your image. The first impression decides how people perceive you. So, why not consider sharpening the elements that build your image?

Dressing and grooming

Professional dressing is not the same as social dressing. For men, straight cut trousers in darker colours and formal shirts in lighter colours are more suitable for office wear. Patterns in shirts are avoidable but you could try very light thin stripes on shirts only. In shoes, oxfords for men and closed shoes for women are most appropriate. In Indian wear, women can try wearing straight cut kurtas over narrow pants instead of tight leggings. If you can carry off saris that’s great! Be mindful that saris should be starched cotton or light silk with small borders. In western wear, ladies can try straight cut, comfort fitted trousers. Leave the snug fits for social occasions. Accessories and make-up must stay light and minimal.

Avoid overpowering perfumes. Go for a clean look — washed and ironed clothes and neat hair. Maintain good hygiene and be aware of mouth and body odour.

Your handshake says a lot about you. When meeting people, smile, make eye contact, greet, give your name and at the same time give a firm handshake. The handshake should be just right — not loose and not too tight. Two-three pumps of the hand are good. Introduce yourself with confidence.

Professional etiquette

Be courteous towards your colleagues at work. Airing personal grievances and gossiping is avoidable. Doing your work well and diligently is good but it’s the people who happily take on more responsibility are the ones who stand apart.

Clean up your online reputation. Remember, that’s what recruiters look at before hiring you. What was cool in college may not be so cool in the professional world. Instead of venting out your frustrations and negative thoughts, highlight your achievements and hobbies.

Create a good Linkedin profile. Networking is an important skill you should inculcate. It will help immensely in your professional life.

Resume writing

Make sure your resume is not a blind copy paste of your friend’s. It should reflect you — your hobbies, projects in college, any work experience and what you learnt from it. Don’t sell yourself short, but don’t oversell either. Print it on good quality paper and use Times Roman or Calibri font. A silly typo is all it takes to end up in the reject pile. Make sure your resume is free of spelling and grammatical mistakes. Remember the A, B and C: Attitude, Action, Appearance, Attire; Behaviour and Communication.

You don’t get a second chance to create a first impression.

The writer is PR strategist, personal image coach and corporate trainer, Stellant Communications.

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Printable version | Jan 24, 2021 2:39:43 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/education/careers/the-abc-of-first-impressions/article7800124.ece

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