First impressions count – they really do …

You only have a matter of minutes, if not seconds, to make an impression.  In fact, Serenity Gibbons, writing for, a couple of years ago stated,

“Every entrepreneur knows that first impressions are important, but you may not know just how little time you have to actually make one. Within the first seven seconds of meeting, people will have a solid impression of who you are — and some research suggests a tenth of a second is all it takes to start determining traits like trustworthiness.”

You can read the full article by following this link:

You might also like to read this article, written in 2006 by Eric Wargo:

It’s fascinating stuff, and to put things into the context of a job search, I really want to highlight the importance of getting that first impression right from the moment you decide that you are looking for a new role – the moment that you open up your CV to ensure it’s up-to-date and a true reflection of who you are – yes, that’s what you need to do!  Time moves on, and your CV needs to move with you!

First impressions come in many guises.  They are as important over the phone (or Zoom, FaceTime, WhatsApp, as is now the case!) as they are in person.

When we meet someone face-to-face (whether in real life or on a screen), we have the opportunity to ‘assess’ them by their appearance, posture and speech. When we meet someone over the phone, only their voice will give us those clues. What you say and how you say it will determine whether your job search is going places or not.

So, when you are actively looking for a job and a call from an unknown number comes through on your mobile, regardless of whether you think it’s another pesky nuisance call (you can always hang up politely – they are only trying to make a living, after all), answer with a smile on your face and with a degree of enthusiasm.

It makes ALL the difference, it really does.  When you sound upbeat and engaging, the person who is calling you will be keen to talk to you further.

In today’s digital world, where job applications are made online and recruiters are regularly calling candidates that they have sourced via job boards such as or (to name just a couple), you will receive calls from unknown numbers.

That call may well be a recruiter from a recruitment agency, a member of a Human Resources team, or even the owner of a business calling you to discuss your application for a role they are advertising, or for a position they are recruiting for that, having seen your CV, they feel that you may be suitable for.  It is therefore important to be mindful of the way you sound when you answer the phone to that unknown number – you just don’t know who is calling you until you engage in conversation.

So when you do, do it with a smile.  Be mindful of the tone of your voice, and your posture – sitting upright will produce a more assured voice, which will show that you are keen to build rapport. Remember, you have literally seconds to make that first impression a good one!

I called someone recently who had applied online for a role I was advertising on behalf of a client.  She made no effort whatsoever, and was very difficult to engage with or build any level of rapport.  I don’t like to judge, I didn’t know her personal circumstances after all, but I spent longer than necessary attempting to nurture some level of engagement.  However, it was evident that she didn’t have the natural ‘oomph’ that my client looks for when recruiting, as they need people who can operate within a fast moving and ever changing environment.

Interestingly, and this brings me back to ensuring your CV is up-to-date, there were inaccuracies on her CV.  It implied that she had 18 months of relevant experience, where, in fact, (after some difficulty extracting the information), it came to light that she only had 2 months’ worth, having omitted to put on an end date.

This meant she lacked the level of expertise needed. As such, I couldn’t progress her further.

It really isn’t going to help your application, or give a good first impression, if the experience you are purporting to have isn’t true.  Yes, some CVs can be out of date, but over a year out of date when you are actively looking for a new job isn’t going to help your case. In fact, you are going to feel worse as you get rejected for a role that you think you stand a chance of getting.

Employers want to recruit honest employees and those who are, as a rule of thumb, engaging.

The story about the candidate I couldn’t progress doesn’t end here.  When I started to explain why I was unable to progress her further, based on her lack of experience, she suddenly became more animated and suggested that they ought to give people a chance to gain the experience.  In all fairness, my client is willing to do this with certain roles, but not fixed-term contracts where they need someone who can hit the ground running and requires little hand holding, particularly whilst they are all working from home.

So it turns out that she did have a little bit of ‘oomph’ /more personality than she initially displayed but, due to the lack of initial engagement, evasively answering questions, and not having the required experience, it was far too late.  On the flip side, had she been upbeat, honest and open, and engaging from the get-go, I might have been able to help further in some respects.  However, I just wanted to get off the phone (and that’s talking as a recruiter who gives far more time to candidates than most if they are not suitable for a job).  And as a coach, I don’t judge; I want to help.  But my first impressions drove the outcome of this particular situation.  Enough was enough!

The old adage ‘You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink’ springs to mind!

However, I am hoping those of you who are reading this article will take note and be mindful next time you are answering the phone when looking for a new job.

Top tips:

  • Be prepared – ALWAYS!
  • Answer the phone with a smile – and enthusiasm
  • Make sure your CV is up-to-date!


You never know who is on the end of the phone, and how that conversation could change your life!