Prepare to make that first impression with employer

By Eve Nicholas

As almost any job hunter will tell you, it takes guts to send a resume to a potential employer. Not only are you trying to capture the attention of someone that you don’t know, but you are also putting your reputation on the line to a person who can change your financial future and alter the trajectory of your career.

Yes, writing and submitting a resume can be a nail-biting experience. This is why I tell job hunters to tackle their searches from all sides. Instead of wasting time roaming the Internet and sending resumes to every job posting that appears on your screen, put your energy to good use. Adopt a more strategic and assertive approach to finding a new position.

Here’s how: Read the newspaper for current information about local companies. Perform specific word searches on the Internet to discover up-and-coming occupations and industries. Evaluate organizations and study job opportunities to determine how you might improve company operations. Finally, network with a purpose. Build relationships and stay in touch even after you land a new job.

I also advise job hunters to carefully craft their first interactions with prospective employers. Your initial impression is serious business; don’t take it for granted. Whether you meet the hiring manager in the interview room or while waiting in line for a bathroom stall at a Mariners game, your first contact is critical. It cannot be revised, amended or taken back.

To make a powerful, door-opening impact with bosses and recruiters, it’s important to be aware of the types of interactions (planned or unplanned) that could result in a face-to-face discussion with an employer. Here is a breakdown:

The job interview: Even though employment interviews can be extremely stressful, most of them are scheduled well in advance. This means that you have plenty of time to organize your presentation and calm your nerves. In order to create the best possible impression, use the days and hours before your meeting to pull together a few intriguing stories about your work history and formulate answers to tough interview questions. Don’t forget to research the company and have some examples ready to describe how you would boost revenue or streamline processes.

The networking event: Business conferences and networking meetings allow you to connect with many professionals in a single location. Prepare yourself beforehand so you can mingle with confidence and offer tidbits about your background, like this: “I recently graduated with a major in graphic art, and I’m looking for position in video game design. Because I have strong technical and writing skills, I know how to push a mission forward by developing original content for scenes, text and dialog.”

The impromptu encounter: If you think sending your resume is frightening, consider how it feels to run into the CEO in an elevator or nearly crash into a hiring manager at the supermarket. There is no way to gear up for these unexpected situations. Just do your best. If it’s appropriate, introduce yourself. But don’t assume that the person wants to engage in a lengthy conversation. Be brief. Smile. Say goodbye and move on with your day. Later, crystallize your impression by following up in a more professional — and planned — setting.

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