Making the right first impression

First Impressions

I recently gave a talk in a local school for Year 12 students in the process of transitioning from school to work. These students were super switched on, but many of them hadn’t considered how they may be making a bad impression even before getting to interview with a potential employer.

I thought I would share the content of my talk, not just applicable to school leavers but anyone looking for their next career move.

 “You’ve probably all heard the expression “you don’t get a second chance to make a first impression” and this is especially true when it comes to trying to secure a job.

You have also probably heard that an employer or a recruiter will make up their mind about you within the first 30 seconds of meeting you. But today I want to talk to you about the first impression you make even before you get to that meeting or interview, before you have the chance to think about what to wear, arriving on time and having a good handshake. First impressions actually start before this.

Over the years I have looked at thousands of applications, resumes, covering letters and taken as many phone calls from people looking for a job. A lot of them have missed out on making the shortlist because of a bad first impression – most of them will never know and I will share with you today some of these things that make me think twice about whether I want to progress with their application.

  1. The novelty email address

Do you have a silly/rude/funny email address? Do you use it on your resume? Do you use it to apply for jobs on line or email employers? If the answer is yes, STOP!

Often this is the first thing that I see on a resume submitted via a job board or when someone emails me directly and if it’s something a bit wacky it will make me think twice. Even if the email is professionally written or the resume looks great, it can be really difficult to get past the stupid email address. Especially if it’s something inappropriate.

You may think it’s harmless but it can be used to form some kind of judgement about you. For example, if your email address is jonnythegamer then an employer may make a call that you won’t turn up for work because you will be gaming all day and night. If it’s something inappropriate (insert your own example here…), it reflects badly and shows that you’re unprofessional. Even if it’s something cute like iwanttobeaunicorn – still not a good first impression and shows a lack of judgement – it’s no different to turning up to an interview in a pair of thongs.

Good news is it’s an easy fix. Set up a brand-new email just for job seeking. for example. This way you have a dedicated email that looks professional and an added bonus is you won’t miss any replies from potential employers that get lost in all your other personal mail.

  1. Your Social Media Profiles

Did you know that many employers don’t even have to look you up anymore on the various social media platforms?  Most systems that recruiters and large employers use will often automatically find any of your social media profiles and provide a direct link along with your CV.

Why is this an issue? It’s not if you have decent privacy settings and /or nothing on your profiles that could turn an employer off you. So, what are the common pitfalls? I’m going to specifically talk abuot Facebook because this is the most common one looked at.

Profile picture:  Drinking, smoking, hand gestures, cartoons, interesting facial expressions, you get the idea.

Posts: Offensive or controversial posts, sharing inappropriate pictures. Posts about current or past workplaces. Bad language to name a few.

Comments: bad language, being offensive towards someone.

Even if the post is something you don’t see anything wrong with someone will still pass judgement. It could be a view on politics or a recent TV show or whatever – if that person who is checking you out doesn’t agree it could cost you the job. This doesn’t mean it is right, but something that you should be aware of.

Everyone has a right to do what they want in their own time but my making this pubic you are inviting potential employers to make a judgement and sometimes that judgement will go against you.

Again, it’s an easy fix – make sure that your profiles are cleaned up or changed and lock down the privacy settings. Remember though if you are networking for your job it’s likely that the employer may be friends of friends so take this into account when fixing your settings.

You can also now use your Facebook profile to apply for jobs – many employers are posting their vacancies directly onto Facebook where you can click on apply and they receive your profile in text format like resume. So, keep it up to date and have a great about you section if you are going to use this avenue to apply for roles.

Another important one to mention is LinkedIn. If you do have a profile the same applies except this is a professional networking site so absolutely no Facebook type posts and make sure your picture is professional. Make sure your profile matches your resume – this is another reason for not being shortlisted, if they don’t match then somewhere you haven’t been honest.

  1. Phone calls

Hopefully if you have made it past the initial filtering you will receive a phone call from the employer/recruiter. This is also a big stumbling block for many candidates who blow it even before the conversation starts. Main reasons:

Clearly still in bed…at 11am. If you are in a job search phase and your phone goes make sure that you sound awake. So many people answer the phone and sound half asleep. If you are still in bed or somewhere noisy – then don’t answer, let it got voicemail and ring back. But don’t leave it too long to call back.

Which brings me to my next one – the stupid voicemail. Just don’t do it. Change it today.

When you do finally speak with someone – try and sound interested, enthusiastic and positive.

If they ask you why you applied don’t say:

  • I just need a job
  • I don’t know
  • I’ve applied for everything

Keep track of what you have applied for. Have some responses ready to go. Smile when you are on the phone.

There are so many opportunities for you to make a good or bad first impressions even before you get close to a meeting or an interview. Keep these in mind and hopefully you won’t be one of the unlucky people who miss out on a job without even knowing it.”


Danni Lopez is a recruitment specialist at Coral Recruitment Solutions – a Brisbane-based recruitment agency. If you need some assistance with your next recruitment or linked-community event, reach out to Danni to see how she and her team can assist you.