Did you know that a potential employer can determine a lot about you as a person within twenty seconds of meeting you just based on your appearance? Or, that smiling during a job interview is not only good for making an impression but it also reduces stress hormones? Truth be told, I didn’t either until I attended “How to Make a Lasting Impression,” an event hosted by the National Capital Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America.
The event featured three panelists who discussed their unique but very similar areas of expertise: Kate Perrin of PRofessional Solutions, LLC who explained the importance of well-written cover letters, detailed resumes, and the power of networking; Robin Fisher of Polished Image and Style who discussed the impact your attire can have in the job market; and Denise Graveline, a social media consultant and speaker trainer who presented on the do’s and don’ts of a job interview.
At the conclusion of the event, attendees were able to walk away with new tips to assist with job searching, etiquette in the workplace and personal image and style. The tips outlined below are my favorite takeaways from the event and can be helpful to any working professional:
• Always include a cover letter. A cover letter is an important part of the application process because it allows you to elaborate on key points from your resume and it also shows your potential employer that you are a good writer. Even if the job application only requires a resume, send a cover letter as well – either as a separate attachment on the application’s website or via email.
• Have a detailed but concise resume. There is nothing worse than a resume that offers an explanation that is general and unclear. For example, “I managed media relations for the firm in 2012.” Going into more detail will be helpful. “I managed media relations for The FUN Foundation that included media hits in the Washington Post and The New York Times.”
• Network, network, network! As the old saying goes, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know” and this can be true. If you are referred to a job by one of the company’s current employees, your resume will automatically be sent to the top, bettering your chances of landing an interview (and hopefully the job).
• Wear your size and your color. It is safe to say that we all come in different shapes, tones and sizes, so our clothes should too. What looks nice on your friend may not look as nice on you because of the differences in your body but rest assured that it is okay! What’s more important is wearing clothes that flatter your figure and staying true to your size and skin tone. You will look better and feel comfortable.
• Connect your personality and your style. When job seekers are called in for an interview, they usually wear the typical black suit and white shirt. While this is safe, it is okay to incorporate a splash of your personality into your style. Consider wearing a pastel colored shirt with the black suit or throw in colorful but subtle accessories to make your outfit pop.
• Smile! Smiling boosts your serotonin and serotonin influences your mood. Smiling also reduces stress hormones so when you’re nervous and fidgety before an interview, give the hiring manager your best smile to help dry off those sweaty palms and ease your nerves.
• Three options are better than one. When you’re asked to describe your skills in a job interview, give the interviewer three options and let them decide which point they want you to elaborate on.
• Be meaningful and memorable. When you give the interviewer those three options, consider telling a story or using alliteration. For example, if you’re asked to describe yourself, you can respond with alliteration by saying, “I’m intelligent, innovative and independent.” The interview is your stage. Show your potential employer what is meaningful to you and give them something to remember.
Jenna Boyer is an account executive at Hager Sharp Inc., a public relations firm in Washington, D.C. In her role, Boyer supports a variety of clients and assists with social media, graphic design, media outreach, and partnership development. Boyer received a Bachelor of Arts in media studies and a minor in Spanish from the Catholic University of America.