Guest Post: For veterans seeking jobs, first impressions are key

Guest Post: For veterans seeking jobs, first impressions are key

Posted on February 21, 2014 by Guest Blogger

Editor's Note: CareerSource Suncoast (formerly Suncoast Workforce) is a partner of the Legacy of Valor campaign honoring veterans and their families throughout Southwest Florida. The agency, which connects employers with skilled talent, collaborated with Goodwill Manasota on two occasions to organize a jobs and services fair for veterans and their families. 

Everyone knows the importance of first impressions. But what you may not realize is there is a short window to make a brilliant first impression. According to Bill Lampton Ph.D., in the article, "How to Make A Strong First Impression," it takes just seven to 17 seconds. That means you have to act quickly -- whether you are meeting with a new business acquaintance or interviewing for a job.

Making an outstanding first impression was one of the topics covered in CareerSource Suncoast's career preparation workshops to help military veterans. The workshops were designed to help veterans prepare for the Legacy of Valor Veterans and Their Families Jobs and Services Fair at Ed Smith Stadium in early February.

Here are five steps that you can apply to ensure a great first impression:

1. Develop a 15-second elevator pitch about your skills, accomplishments and what you can bring to a business. Think of the summary as a verbal resume that highlights key points of interest for the employer. To sound natural, you must practice, practice, practice.

2. Your attitude can make or break your first impression. People pick up on your attitude instantly, so make a conscious decision about the attitude you want to portray. Your attitude will show in your body language and posture, too. Standing tall, shoulders back and holding your head straight will signal confidence and competence.

3. Your attire and grooming will immediately indicate whether you are the right fit for the job. Take into account the type of job you’re applying for. Attire should be clean, neat and coordinated. Also, consider accessories such as jewelry. Body piercings should be removed and tattoos covered.

4. A strong hand shake is one of the quickest ways to establish rapport. Further, looking in someone’s eyes transmits energy and indicates interest and openness.

5. Don’t forget to smile. A warm smile will show that you are friendly and approachable.

We saw the result of these practices put to good use during the job fair that was a collaborative effort among CareerSource Suncoast, Goodwill Manasota, and the Baltimore Orioles -- all supported by The Patterson Foundation, which created the Legacy of Valor campaign. The partnership brought together 30 service organizations and 44 employers and it was attended by more than 200 veterans and family members.

One veteran who attended was provided assistance with tweaking his resume prior to the event. He ended up with an interview during the job fair and started his new job on Feb. 17!

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