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First impressions are everything, but how important are they?

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Hi,

I’m Taylah and I am the “Gate Keeper” at Inspire HQ. A gate keeper you ask? Let me elaborate. To put it in a nicer, less scary term – I am the first point of contact here at our office.

Every email you send, every call you make to the office and when you walk through our door, 9 out of 10 times the first impression you make at Inspire HQ will be judged by me. No doubt you will be doing the same thing about me. So how important are first impressions, really? All it takes is a quick glance or that 4 seconds of communication for the first impression to be made and how damaging can it be if your idea of your first “perfect” impression didn’t go to plan?

To me personally, first impressions are everything. It sets the tone for you as a person and what you can bring to the table in a personal and professional manner. An example dates back to my boyfriend at the time (now my husband) witnessing my ex co-worker at a wedding making an absolute scene of himself and setting himself up for one of the worst first impressions. My boyfriend’s response was, “How can you work with someone like that?!” My response was nothing short of silence. He was right, how could I think of him as professional and a role model for the business when he would make racial comments and swear until the cows came home. I had grown so accustomed to how he behaved but this was the lasting impression he left on other people. Great impression, right?

I have seen a lot of first impressions go wrong over the years. This got me questioning, what is the first impression I leave you with? Am I giving people the right impression? A lot of people, depending on the situation can tend to put on a mask – so to speak, of what it is they think they want us to see when really all we want to see is their true colours and personality. All my previous roles have been customer facing roles which means I am the first point of contact. I have at times read the signs wrong and caught someone on their “off day.” Being in the roles I have been in, I have seen it all. From the good, the bad and the downright ugly personalities. Ugly personalities to me looks like poor communication, negative attitudes and even the worst-case scenario of verbal abuse which I have been on the other end of. While you might be having a bad day, maybe it’s not the day for you to come in and drop off your resume or pick up the phone and call us. We will remember your impression and your first initial meeting with us; don’t let it be to your detriment. Remember – an ugly personality sticks!

Let me give you an example of how it works in recruitment. I was recently involved in a recruitment process that was centred around first impressions. So what does this mean? This means that as soon as you walked through that door your first impression counted. From the moment you put your hands on the door handle to enter our office to the moment you left, it was showtime. This recruitment process was tailored for this particular role. Why? Because our client wanted someone who made an awesome first impression and could demonstrate a genuine passion for the customer experience. They would be the gate-keeper for the business and this environment could be stressful, highly emotive and our client was looking for someone who would fit their culture. Could we determine this from reading a resume from an email?

 

Some helpful hints I have come across over the years that don’t require a certificate, they don’t require minimum hours of study and they certainly don’t cost anything. Through my learning and experience, my advice is based on things that anyone can do:

  • Be yourself

I know this sounds so simple, but it is as simple as this. Be yourself. No one wants to be dealing with one personality one day and another on another day. A perfect example is on a previous blog that Ange shared on trying to be someone you’re not in an interview. We find that a lot of people tend to put on this so-called mask. We want to get to know you for who you are, not who you portray yourself to be. It’s as simple as that.

 

  • Consideration

This is a tricky point to touch on, but it is honestly as simple as having consideration. I am the first point of contact, yes. However, I’m not just a receptionist. My job involves more than just “reception” work. I deal with enquiries daily, managing staff, diary bookings and computer issues and that isn’t even scratching the surface. Receptionists are not just people who sit at their desk and wait for the phone to ring, they are the glue that holds the business together. My advice to you is to treat receptionists as an equal, leave a good first impression with them because they will be your advocate and gateway into the business.

 

  • Presentation

In some cases, presentation is the most important part of the whole process, right? Right! We don’t want to see someone turning up for an interview in jeans and thongs. However, at the same time, if you’re applying for a labouring role we don’t mind you turning up in your neatly presented jeans and a casual top. Applying for an Executive role such as a Lawyer is a completely different situation. There is a time and a place for correct presentation and turning up looking like you have just rolled out of bed isn’t a good start for any first impression. Presentation isn’t just about what clothes you wear, it is also about appearance. Is your hair neatly done, do you smell nice and do you carry yourself well? It is more than just the clothes on your back that leave a good impression.

 

  • Be confident

Confidence is key! When it comes to first impressions, body language and appearance can speak much louder than words. An upright posture with your head held high can make all the difference in the world. After all, confidence is key and if you are slouched over with no confidence, it doesn’t leave a good first impression does it? Carry yourself in a way that makes you feel like you can conquer the world and that you have what it takes to become the next labourer or lawyer. No matter what role you are applying for, let your confidence shine through!

 

Sure, we would all love to make the right impression and make that lasting impression stick in someone’s head. Are we sometimes too over the top and making the impression we think they want to see, or are we not the true indication of what we really are? All we must do is be our self and the rest will follow through.

Am I wrong in saying, first impressions are everything?

 

Have you considered how your current salary compares to others in similar roles within Regional Victoria?  Visit www.regionalsalaries.com.au and compare your salary now, it’s free and anonymous.

Taylah Driscoll joined the Inspire HQ team in early 2017 and she now manages the customer service experience while providing executive support to the team. Taylah has an extensive background in customer facing roles and understands and appreciates the importance of building lifelong relationships with Inspire HQ’s client and job seekers. She has a passion for helping people achieve their career aspirations. Find more useful information and advice at www.inspirehq.com.au

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Comments 2

  1. Zelda Mitton

    Hi Taylah,

    I just wanted to say thank you for this helpful post. It was a good read and I will certainly take some of your comments into consideration for my own professional development. Keep up the good work!

    Kind regards,
    Zelda

  2. Post
    Author
    Ange Connor

    Thanks for the feedback Zelda, best of luck with your professional development.
    Inspire HQ

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