First impressions happen only once, and in the recruiting world, a good first impression can go a long way in putting you a step ahead of your competition. We all have off days. We all say stupid things. However, a little preparation and research can be a game changer when it comes to making a bold, first impression (sounds like the same advice we give candidates, doesn’t it?). A recruiter can say a lot about a company. Are you delivering the right message to candidates in the first meeting?

5 Ways to Make a Great First Impression

1. Be Assertive (And Sometimes Aggressive)

Don’t be a stalker, but do be assertive. Let candidates know about your interest in them in a bold manner. Show up to conferences or networking events prepared. Have your information ready to share in a concise and readily accessible format. Don’t give the candidate bulky packets or papers to carry around, but make the most of the business card with tailored information that the candidate will need. Seek out candidates and let them know why you’re interested up front, and what your company can offer.

2. mix business with pleasure.

Focusing solely on job specifics or how great your company is to work does not make a lasting connection with a candidate. Connect with the candidate on a personal level and connect with the candidate on a professional level by talking about industry-specific topics and issues.

3. Don’t do all the talking,

Listen to what motivates the candidate. Stephen Covey gets it right with Habit 5: Seek first to understand, then to be understood.

4. Follow up face-to-face.

– preferably at events that are mutually beneficial. The social world is necessary, but social interactions are not always memorable and are easy to brush off. Face-to-face interactions will (hopefully) leave a better, more lasting impression. Coffee meetings are great, but they take more time and energy from your candidate, so invite candidates to conferences or networking events – it’s a win-win. If they’re not a great fit, you’ll still get something out of the event.

5. Don’t be fake.

There’s no formula or checklist for a great first impression. Don’t just copy what everyone else is doing. Know your own personality and use that to your advantage. There’s the stereotypical ‘go-getter’ recruiter who’s personality plus and high energy. But soft-spoken can also win the day. You want candidates to be themselves in an interview, so be sure you’re following that advice yourself. The same goes for how you present your company. Not everyone is Google – if flexibility and free lunches aren’t your thing, don’t pretend you can offer it. Play to your company’s strengths, but also be honest.



Want to make a great first impression on the Cleared Network? Complete your profile! On the bottom right-hand of your screen you will see your percentage of profile completeness. Click on ‘Steps to Completion’ to see you to improve your profile. One of the quickest, easiest things to do? Add a profile photo and cover photo!


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Jillian Hamilton has worked in a variety of Program Management roles for multiple Federal Government contractors. She has helped manage projects in training and IT. She received her Bachelors degree in Business with an emphasis in Marketing from Penn State University and her MBA from the University of Phoenix.