1st Impressions: How much does what you look like, actually matter?

In 2017, we wear our independence and our rights as a badge, we love to tout our support or criticisms of politics, pop culture and day to day occurrences. We live in a digital age where, let’s face it, perception is more so a reality than it was before. Nothing is safe. Your past is google-able. Your private life is on display across numerous social media platforms and your employment potential is affected by it all.

Some might say, “That’s why I don’t have Face Book or Twitter!” others may argue, “Regardless, I keep my personal life private!” Today, there’s no such thing. Unless you have everyone in your life sign some form of an indemnity clause stipulating that they cannot post you or mention your name publicly, there’s a good chance that there’s an involuntary digital footprint of you somewhere, and any cursory employment background check can surface it. What does my online presence have to do with first impressions? I’m glad you asked.

The answer is EVERYTHING!

We’re taught that the first impression is actually our resume; all that we have to do is show through our interview that we are who we say we are on paper. Then we are taught that the first physical impression is the interview and the way we dress, speak, present ourselves either refutes or supports the thoughts of the interviewer.

What if I told you that all of the above are correct and there is one last piece? Not only do potential Hiring Managers, Recruiters, Head Hunters and Sourcer’s look for your verbal’s, nonverbal and culture fit in an interview, expect that your outlined work ethic aligns with your appearance; they search to see that your life lines up with your image.  

If you doubt this reality, think about the very public firings that have recently taken place because of social media posts. Outside of blatant prejudices and stereotypical viewpoints, it’s not as easy to determine who’s a great fit anymore. Talent comes in all shapes, sizes, ethnicities, cultures and backgrounds so how on earth can the right candidate be identified?

Through research! What you post and allow yourself to be a part of matters. Make sure that your digital footprint lines up with your professional image. Ensure that how you are represented on the web is in direct correlation with your professional aspirations. Does this mean that you can’t have a social life? You can’t share details about your weekend or family? Absolutely not!

As a matter of fact, companies want to see that you can actually provide a work-life balance. What it does mean is that you should not share compromising information that will hinder your professional first impression.

Catherine McNeil

Catherine McNeil has earned a Bachelor’s of Business Administration with a focus in Management from Robert Morris College and holds a Master of Arts in Industrial/Organizational Psychology from the Chicago School of Professional Psychology. She excels at new employee training, instruction, supervision and job knowledge in the areas of Customer Service, Leadership, and Administration. She has over fifteen years of experience and applied knowledge from management and leadership roles inside the Collections, Not for Profit, Real Estate and Construction arenas.