Hope to Land a New Job In the New Year? You Have Thirty Seconds to Prove Yourself

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Licensed counselor and communication coach Susan Fee has written a communication tips booklet called, "Positive First Impressions: 83 Ways to Establish Confidence, Competence, and Trust."

Judy Marshall is a bright, competent CPA looking to expand her career. When she finally landed an interview with a top firm she was determined to make a good first impression. Dressed in her best suit, she arrived early, and felt confident. “The interview went great,” she said enthusiastically, “I was right on with every answer.” So why didn’t she get the job? She calls it, “the lobby incident.” While waiting for her interview, Marshall took a cell phone call from a girlfriend in which she started gossiping about another friend, sharing some intimate details of a relationship. Marshall had no idea how loud she was, or that her conversation was overheard by the receptionist who is routinely consulted about how job candidates behave pre-interview. “They said they couldn’t trust someone who didn’t protect private information,” said Marshall.

“It takes thirty seconds to make a first impression,” says Susan Fee, a licensed counselor and communication coach. “Whatever happens during that time sets the stage for future relationships.” Fee says that the impression clock doesn’t wait to start ticking until you’re willing, prepared, and formally introduced, “It begins the second someone encounters you, hears your name, or observes your interactions with others.” That includes all the little ways we communicate impressions like cell phone etiquette, voice-mail and e-mail messages, and how you shake hands. It’s the type of stuff that can make or break careers. “Communication has a cumulative effect, so every impression we make builds on the previous one,” says Fee. “Each and every time people are exposed to our message, we are either supporting or detracting from a positive image.”

In such a competitive job market every impression counts according to Fee, who coaches clients in interpersonal communication and presentation skills. “If it comes down to two qualified candidates on paper, the job will absolutely go to the one who is the strongest communicator, and typically that’s someone who is acutely aware of impression management,” she advises.

To help her clients, Fee has written a communication tips booklet called, "Positive First Impressions: 83 Ways to Establish Confidence, Competence, and Trust." Here’s an excerpt of seven skills she says will ensure a positive first impression.

1.    Deliver an authentic, consistent message in all areas of your life. If you act one way with certain people, and another way with others, you’ll come across as a fraud.

2.    Focus on what’s going right in your life instead of what’s going wrong. Complainers are energy drainers who drive others away and earn the reputation of someone to avoid.

3.    Maintain an appropriate personal space. Between four feet and 18 inches is considered an acceptable distance for business situations and casual socializing.

4.    When networking, place nametags high on your right shoulder so they are easily visible when shaking hands. Avoid placing them low on your chest, pocket, or belt loop. It’s embarrassing and uncomfortable for people to look there.

5.    Speak at a rate of approximately 150 words per minute. Slow talkers are associated with being boring while fast talkers can be perceived as being dishonest.

6.    Answer cell phone calls privately when possible. Having personal or business conversations in public and speaking so loudly that others can overhear, violates the confidentiality of the caller. The cell phone user appears arrogant as if his business is so interesting everyone should listen.

7.    Drop “try” from your vocabulary. It’s a verbal escape clause that communicates a lack of commitment. Instead of trying to do your best, just do it.

About Susan Fee

Susan Fee is a licensed counselor and communication coach in Sagamore Hills, OH. You can purchase a copy of Positive First Impressions ($5.00) through her Web site, http://www.susanfee.com.

Contact Information:

Susan Fee

(330) 908-3840 EST


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