Most of us already know that first impressions are a huge deal when it comes to job interviews.
First-impression traits are the most critical for job seekers to prepare for as they all can be evaluated by a recruiter or hiring manager within the first 30 seconds of meeting a candidate.
You may be sitting down right now stressing on how to make a great first impression for that big interview you have in the coming weeks. But did you stop to think about your digital first impression?
In this day and age, first impressions no longer happen in the interview room alone.
The first thing any employer is going to do when you catch their interest in this internet-savvy age is to run a Google search on you.
That’s right. Employers, friends, your fans, secret crushes, stalkers, exes – they all have access to the internet and social media. And all it takes them to find you on the internet is your full name.
And as a job seeker, it is worth asking yourself just what are they going to see when they find you on the internet? Will they even find you on the internet?
Why is this so important?
Because first impressions – whether they take place in the interview room or on the internet – they will affect the long term perception of you in the eyes of the interviewer.
When we talk about first impressions, we are talking about this deeply ingrained image of yours in another person that forms within the first 10 seconds or less of when someone meets you. And as they say, ‘the first impression is the last impression’, nothing is going to change the overall impression of another person’s personality over time.
This is both true in-person and online. Take for example, if someone is quickly going through your public profile on the internet for the first time and they find you tedious, boring, or offensive, or just sloppy in every regard, that impression is going to stay with them for a long time to come.
The reality is very simple – in this day and age, your resume is only half of the data that recruiters will use to decide whether you are capable enough to work for them or not. Much of their judgment will be based on your web presence.
This is why having a solid online presence is crucial for you. It allows you to grab the attention of a hiring manager early in the hiring process. And this then helps you stand out in their minds before they meet any other candidates.
Let me show you 5 smart ways that you can impress hiring managers before you even walk in the interview door, using just the internet.
1. Score an Insider Recommendation
If you already know someone in the company you are applying to, then you can use their recommendation for your advantage.
Even if the individual doesn’t work in the department you are aiming to work in, they can still put out a referral for you. And mind you, an inside referral has a powerful impact on a hiring manager. After all, they are getting a good opinion about you from someone they trust.
If you don’t already have a connection inside the company, there are many ways you can find one.
For starters, check your LinkedIn connections to see if the hiring manager and you have any mutual connections.
Once you find this person, you obviously shouldn’t message them abruptly asking for their kind recommendation. Here are some good templates you can use to ask for their referral.
And if you are still unable to find a connection on the inside, you can consider trying to set an informational interview with someone inside the department where you have applied. Just make sure you come prepared to impress them and they will be more than willing to put a good word for you.
2. Demo Your Talents with a Sample Project
Instead of talking about what you can do for the company, why not show the hiring manager what you are capable of? Do a sample project for the company and make sure that it is made to impress. This is a great way to put yourself on top of all the other applicants.
And if you are unsure what a good sample project looks like, research the company and come up with a few ideas on how you can improve their services. For example, if you are seeking a job as a software developer in the company, you could study one of their software and pitch an idea to improve it further.
And if you are unable to find much about the company, or frankly, don’t have enough time to consider making a full sample project, at least make sure that the most relevant work samples are easy for the hiring managers to find. You have to make sure the sample work you provide has something to do with the job you’re applying to. This will help them see how your skills can benefit them.
3. Display Your Industry Leadership
If you want to stimulate the interest of the hiring manager, then show that you are an active member of the industry. To do this, you are going to have to make an effort and start engaging with people who exist in your line of work.
There are hundreds of online forums, Facebook groups, and other open discussion platforms like Reddit where you can easily find like-minded people and indulge in discussions about your work.
Talk about your recent projects, discuss the troubles you faced, or tell people about the takeaways from a recent conference you attended. Anything that proves you have deep knowledge and understanding of the work you do will automatically translate into a genuinely good opinion when a hiring manager sees it.
4. Get Mr.Google to Promote Your Qualifications
Let me be very straight, hiring managers are immediately going to Google you when they see your resume. And when they finally find you, would you rather them find your casual Facebook profile or a collection of thoughtful topics written on a professional blog by you?
To make sure that they reach the right place, you could also start a blog about your work. Write thoughtful content, help others understand the difficulties of your work, or just teach them a workaround to something difficult and Google will automatically increase your reach.
Next up you need to make sure that you appear on the top of Google search results when your name is searched for. To do this, make sure your website is after your full name, and under this website, you can write all about your work experience, the projects you have completed, and links to other places where you can be found online.
Make sure all of your social media profiles are up to date and professional. Try not to include your personal Facebook profile in the links – focus on getting your Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+ profiles on the top.
5. Shine on LinkedIn
Did you know that nearly 87% of employers who hire through internet recruiting, go to LinkedIn first to search and source for candidates that fit their job requisition requirements? You need to make sure that your profile on this social media website is the best.
To make sure that a hiring manager lands on your profile, you need to have as many connections as possible on the site. You also need to make sure that you are using the exact phrase of who you are everywhere in your profile. So for example, if you are a ‘software developer’, make sure every section you make on your profile has this phrase in it.
Next up you need to make sure your profile gives an excellent first impression. To do this, do the following:
- Have a charismatic profile photo
- Use an attention-grabbing headline
- Make sure your profile is 100% complete
- Post only quality-eccentric content related to your industry (share your blog posts!)
- Take part in discussions on the site
- Get as many recommendations as possible
These simple but crucial steps will help you not only show up to hiring managers of the company but also get their undivided attention. They’ll be so engrossed in you that they’ll want to meet you in person.
There is absolutely no doubt that your resume and cover letter play an important role in helping you secure an interview. But they aren’t the only ones that help you land the job, at least not in 2019.
If you ignore the internet, and the extra steps mentioned above to make a solid first impression before you even walk in the interview door, you might never get through the shortlisting phase.
Every job you apply for will have hundreds of other applicants. And I can’t help but emphasize how important it is for you to stand apart from them. So next time you want to land the job of your dreams, make sure you are taking these additional steps and I guarantee things will be different for you.