Wednesday, January 30, 2013

7 Seconds to Success, or Failure

Photo by Casey Marshall, Creative Commons

What can you do in seven seconds?  You can refill your dog's food bowl in seven seconds.  You can update your Facebook status in seven seconds.  You can eat a Clif Bar in seven seconds.  But, can you make a good first impression in just seven seconds?  

Jay Frank, owner of digital record label DigSin and author of the book Future Hit.DNA, was quoted in a recent Nashville Business Journal article as saying songs that are hit-worthy are ones that grab listeners in the first seven seconds.

Human resources staff who review hundreds and even thousands of resumes initially spend only about seven seconds glancing at one resume before making the decision to keep it in the "yes" stack or trash it.

And finally, research has shown that everyday people make judgments about others in the first seven seconds of meeting face-to-face.  What do they have to go on in those first seven seconds?  Nothing more than what they see and maybe enough time for an exchange of names.

No matter if your audience includes music fans, hiring managers, or even your future soul mate, first impressions and judgments are made about you and your abilities faster than you can download the latest Zac Brown Band album.  Is this fair?  No!  Is this the reality of human nature?  Yes.

In the face-to-face interactions, these judgments are made based on the data coming into the brain through the eyes.  This is why putting in a little effort and taking pride in your appearance and grooming is so important.  Here are a few tips on how to improve the first impressions you make on others in face-to-face interactions:
  1. Always wear a smile, not a grimace.  The more approachable you look, the more people will want to find out about the real you.
  2. Dress one step above what you feel like dressing.  That nice pair of jeans takes just as long (less than seven seconds) to slide on as those faded holey jeans lying on your closet floor.
  3. Wear clothes that fit and flatter your body type.  Don't know how to do that?  Come to the "Dress Your Best" workshop and find out!
  4. Follow Adam and the Ants' advice and "Put on a little makeup, makeup..."  Just a little really does go a long way.
  5. Check out this great article by Claudia Reynolds on how your image and an updated wardrobe can help you get ahead. 
Next week, I'll share some tips on how to make a good first impression with your written materials including bios and resumes.  Stay tuned!

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