This past week I had the pleasure to provide a workshop at the Community Career Center at the new Warsaw Goodwill Store. 

The workshop I provided was for people looking for work. YOUR FIRST IMPRESSION MATTERS! What you wear and how you greet someone could be the ultimate decision in you getting your dream job. Over the years, I have worked with numerous corporations and hiring professionals and they all tell me the same thing: when 2 candidates appear to have equal qualifications for an open position, the hiring decision comes down to first impressions.

Here are some tips for you as you start this New Year with a resolve to get your dream job! It all starts with the interview…

Traditional, conservative attire is always best. Showing your personality through overly creative clothing might be misinterpreted; it could also be taken as a sign of disrespect. To dress nicely, in a clean, pressed suit (or trouser with a jacket) is saying “I respect this company, the interviewer and the process to get this job”.

A handshake can start off an interview in a great way…or not. Think about how many times someone has shaken your hand and it left you wondering if your hand was broken…or worse, reaching for the hand sanitizer! Men, don’t shake a woman’s hand like you are greeting the queen (the finger shake). Shake it like you would another man. Ladies, offer a firm “web-to-web” handshake to your potential supervisor. And of course, be sure your hands are clean before you go into the interview. If you are one who gets sweaty palms when you get nervous, washing your hands when you get to the office can counteract this (even if only for a few minutes), allowing you time to shake hands and get to the interview office. Spraying an unscented antiperspirant on your palms can also temporarily help.

Finally, a word about tattoos and piercings. In today’s world, so many of us have tattoos and piercings (in other places than our ears). Although these kinds of things are seen as an expression of personal style and are very accepted socially, in a business environment these kinds of “accessories” are not appropriate. There are many reasons for this, but primarily it is because they are distracting. It is hard for the interviewer to concentrate on what you are saying if they are trying to see what your tattoo says. Also, in some industries showing tattoos and piercings may be against corporate attire policies (or health code regulations). For the interview, put a band aid over the tattoo (or cover with clothing), and remove your piercings.

Good luck on your job search!