A bad hair day, a hangover or red eyes and a runny nose from hay fever… these are all things we want to, but most likely can’t hide when at a company lunch or careers fair. We all know that first impressions are key, and so it is normal to experience sudden stage fright when standing in front of the recruiter of your dream company and you're not looking on point. Well, what if we told you that we’ve discovered how you can hide these things and put yourself in the spotlight with a great first impression…

Meet online! There’s a reason Tinder and Happn still dominate the charts in the App Store today, and that’s because meeting online is becoming much more common. It is a lot easier to hide the sweaty palms and nervous giggles when meeting someone for the first time online. So why should connecting with employers be any different? You want to impress your potential boss just as much as you want to impress that cute guy or girl from your thursday afternoon lecture, right?

But for a first impression to count, you need to be prepared… and what better way to put yourself out there than with a strong first message. Luckily for you, we’ve got a few pointers to help you out.

1. Keep. it. short.

In the time it took you to reach this paragraph, recruiters are able to scan through 6 (!) CV’s. That’s because, on average, a recruiter takes 5 to 7 seconds to look at a CV and judge whether the candidate is qualified or not… and a message isn’t very different. That is why it’s important to make it clear from the very beginning why you are reaching out (read: get to the point immediately!). Start by explaining why it is you messaged them; the motivation and your personality can come right after that.

2. Show more of you than just your picture

Having a profile picture definitely helps with a first impression, but make the impression count even more by showing some personality. Keeping it short does not mean you should. type. like. this. It means you should get to the point, but not forget to show who you are as a person. Recruiters are much more likely to answer a message when they can see personality and enthusiasm in your language as opposed to a generic job application message you got off the internet. However, be sure to keep a balance between personality and professionality:

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3. Don’t be afraid… recruiters don’t bite

It may feel odd messaging a recruiter who you don’t know (yet) and don’t have any personal connections with. But we’ve seen that recruiters value students who reach out first because they show initiative and interest. Don’t be afraid! If you’re not sure what to send them, ask them if they have time for a cup of coffee or a tour of the office. That way you can build your connection and use it when you finally decide to apply for that traineeship or starter’s position! Remember: you have a lot more to gain from this than to lose.

In the end, how you spend your time getting ready for the job market is up to you. But I know what I would do if I could choose between meeting my future employer from the comfort of my own bed or dragging myself to the countless number of company lunches and careers fairs ;-)