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Career Success: 5 Tips for Making a Great First Impression

First Impressions

Even the most social people feel nervous when they’re making a first impression. You want to look and act like yourself, but you may also feel pressured to go the extra mile to impress others. This is particularly true for people starting a new job, especially when they are millennials.

Millennials are used to hearing older generations make jokes about them that aren’t meant to be flattering, so it’s intimidating to walk into an office and know you may be the youngest person there. There can be an immense pressure that comes with knowing you’re up against stereotypes, but there are some easy ways you can make a great first impression in any office.

Remember, you’ve been hired because you’re going to rock at what you do. Keep that awesome feeling going by using these easy tips to make a great first impression.

1. Develop a Strong Handshake

It may seem like your biggest first impression would be what you say to someone you meet, but you don’t even have to say a word for someone else to form their first opinion about you. When people typically meet, they shake hands, and that’s what you want to get right before your first day.

Handshakes matter because they tell a person a lot about you. A firm handshake means you’re confident, happy to meet someone and feel at ease. The positive feeling a strong handshake gives off will make the other person feel the same way, creating an instant bond.

Management experts at the University of Iowa conducted a study to get to the bottom of why handshakes are so important. During their research, interviewers recorded what they felt during the handshake. It ended up being the impression they remembered, rather than what a candidate said or even the job experience they had.

Here’s how you develop a good handshake. Get a friend to shake your hand as practice, then make sure you have a firm grip. Shake their hand once, while maintaining eye contact and a smile. The confidence you exude will show them that your hand-shaking ability is the last thing on your mind, even if it’s the first.

2. Leave Personal Drama at Home

Another reason people want to make a good impression is to gain the respect of their co-workers. One of the fastest ways to lose respect is to bring your personal drama to the office. Eventually, you’ll make great friends at work and they’ll want to support you through whatever’s happening in your life, but you don’t know who those friends are yet.

For now, leave the drama at home. Do an attitude check before you enter the office, so you come across as pleasant and professional. If anything happens during work, you can always step outside or use the restroom to take a few minutes to call the person you need to speak with. Keep your work and personal lives separate to maintain a respectful, professional look.

3. Dress Your Best

The inner conflict about what you should wear to work is a difficult one to reconcile. Every office has a different approach to how employees should dress. Your best bet will be to dress as professionally as possible. If it turns out the environment is more relaxed, you can adjust accordingly.

Shop around to find your best work outfits. Pay attention to pieces like blazers, suits and dress shoes. You should also think about the finer details, like how a suit color makes a first impression. The little details may not seem very big to you, but they’ll be glaringly obvious to your co-workers if your outfit doesn’t make sense. Look around online for business attire inspiration and match it with your sense of style.

4. Project Confidence Every Day

Something people worry about when they start a new job is not knowing everything, they feel they should. Millennials especially feel this pressure, as young people may not have had experience in a similar position. The truth is that even the most experienced, lifelong employee didn’t know what they were doing on their first day. Even on your second day, your second week or even your second month, you may still feel new.

On average, it takes people three to six months to get used to a new job. In the meantime, project confidence so you don’t seem like you’re nervous. Your co-workers will be much more receptive and kinder when you admit you need help, rather than asking for it with a miserable or upset attitude.

5. Set a Proactive Example

Every young person has heard of the lazy millennial stereotype. That may not be the case for you, but it’s still one of the problems your first impression will be up against when you start a job. To get around this image that will be in many people’s minds, set a proactive example.

Be the first person to replace the paper in the copy machine. Wipe up the counter after you make your lunch and strive to accomplish goals before your boss even has to ask them of you. The ways you can be proactive will become more apparent as you learn your job responsibilities and master them. If you’re ready to tackle projects on your first day, you’ll make a fantastic first impression with your boss that will set a positive standard for your relationship with everyone else.

As you prepare to start your job, you’re already being proactive. You’re thinking ahead about what you’ll wear, how you’ll shake hands and what those things will say about you. When your first day finally arrives, you’ll make the best first impression with your co-workers, so you can spend every other day on the job focused on working hard and making great friends.



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