/How to Make a Good Impression on Your First Job
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How to Make a Good Impression on Your First Job

By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant

If you’re looking forward to soon starting your first “real” job in your chosen field, remember these tips for making a good first impression:

1. Dress right. For most professional positions, go conservative, not risqué. For ladies, cover up more than what may be your going out look. That means no visible cleavage, knee-length (if you go for a dress or skirt), closed shoes, no bare legs and a top with at least cap sleeves. Gents, shave or neatly trim facial hair but skip the scruff. Unbutton one button of your collared shirt and if it’s a dress shirt, wear a white crew neck T-shirt under it. Wear a tie and jacket (you can always remove them if others don’t go dressy). Avoid clothing that is too tight and see-through. Select something in a conservative color and print and dark, dressy shoes. Absolutely no straps or underwear should show, including camisoles or shirts trimmed to look like lacey camisoles. Don’t wear a hairstyle or fashion that constantly requires you to adjust them, like hair that falls in your face or maxi dresses or pants that need hiking up. Wear minimal jewelry and nothing that clangs or clatters. Mimic the overall style of what your interviewer wore.

2. Get a good haircut.

3. Clean your shoes.

4. Don’t wear an overpowering fragrance or bring smelly food in your lunch (like fish to reheat in the microwave). “Avoid smoking around the work hours,” said Meg Osborne, coordinator of Career Services with Cayuga Community College.

5. Arrive a little early. Commuting traffic may differ from the day and time of the interview.

6. Be sociable. “There are often multiple qualified candidates for a position, so you were chosen because they felt like you were a great fit for their team,” said Taeko Kelly, business career coach with SUNY Oswego. “Get to know that team. We all want to impress our supervisors or the higher-ups when we first start by demonstrating a strong work ethic and sense of professionalism, but also prioritize building relationships with those folks and your new coworkers.”

7. Respect others. “You’re working with a lot of different people,” said Cara Battaglia, job placement specialist with Cayuga Community College. “Be attentive to the people in your surroundings. It’s a different culture and different generational approaches to what’s acceptable.”

8. Do as you’re asked. “Never hesitate to help others if you can,” Kelly said.

9. Ask for clarity. “Ask a lot of questions if you’re not sure how to handle a situation or if a project isn’t clear,” Osborne said.

10. Listen. “See how people are interacting in the workplace,” Osborne said.

11. Go easy with humor. Until you know your coworkers well, be pleasant but don’t try to be a jokester. Certain coworkers may not share your sense of humor.

12. Don’t talk about religion or politics (unless, of course, that’s the nature of your work).

13.. Avoid TMI. Over sharing about your personal life comes across as immature or emotionally needy.

14. Don’t favor some people “You’ll also want to avoid office cliques,” Kelly said.

15. “Don’t answer your cell phone or text,” Battaglia said. “Leave it in the car. Understand the policies and don’t assume what it is.”

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