Why do hiring managers decide in the first 8 seconds if they’re going hire a candidate or not?* The First Impressions. From handshake to hairstyle, wardrobe to watch, each component of a candidate is dissected in a matter of minutes. As an author it reminds me of the adage Don’t judge a book by its cover.”

The handshake

Everyone knows the limp fish shake that makes you think the person’s decision-making might be as weak as his handshake. Then there’s the clammy palm creating a discreet, desperate move to wipe your hand on the nearest surface and plot the goodbye handshake escape within the first 10 seconds of hello. And, then, the perfect medium-firm handshake walks through the door and bells ring, butterfly wings flutter, aha, I’ve been hoping you’d arrive.”

The outfit

Smudged glasses, wrinkled shirt and pants two inches too long make a strong first impression. The few minutes it takes to iron a shirt (or pants) and the $15 investment in nicely tailored pants provide great return on your personal brand and job search. An outfit conveys as much about a person’s professional acumen (e.g. if they care about the attention to detail in their appearance they will care about it with their duties, as it does) as their experience.

The arrival

An unexpected car accident that creates distracting traffic or food poisoning from a bad order of take out the night before; when these things happen the majority of people are understanding. Heavy traffic, inclement weather, poor planning, arriving 5-10-15 minutes late, getting lost; these types of excuses are merely excuses that, with proper planning, can be avoided. If this happens, call at least 15 minutes before your scheduled interview time to advise you’ll be late in order to minimize the damage to both your personal brand and first impression.

From the moment we meet, before a word is spoken, our eyes glance over each other to determine where we file you in our mind. Are you intelligent? Sophisticated? Charismatic? Creative? Mostly, do we ‘fit’ together? Companies and individuals dating are much alike in this way. Go forth and date, I mean, job hunt and prosper.

* Source: Career Sudoku: 9 Ways to Win the Job Search Game