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Professionals say first impressions, attitudes, attire important in getting job

By Samantha Esgro
On September 25, 2012

  • Interns Brandon Smith, left, and Diana Ni model inappropriate clothing in this photo illustration as what not to wear for a job interview.

Social media, fashion and attitude. Aspects that are important among peers and friends are also what can make or break a job opportunity with professionals.
Whether looking for a job or just curious about what's out there, students can use the 2012 Fall Career and Internship Expo today in the University Center to network with potential future employers. Businesses of all types will have booths set up to provide students with information - and to watch for first impressions.
"People make judgments, and you can derail your job search unintentionally," said Clay Woemmel, associate director of career services.
Courtney Cook, assistant director of career services, said it is important to dress professionally when meeting potential future employers. This was one of the main points Woemmel made, too, and it is listed on the information page for today's career fair.
On the website, there are four links to help students make the right first impression.
The site describes how to make the most of a career fair, provides four-year checklists, supplies aids for writing résumés, has interview tips and details what to wear to a career fair or job interview - down to the pantyhose for women and suit buttons for men. There is a guided résumé-maker, sample cover letter and a list of action verbs to "liven up your résumé."
Woemmel said that when looking for employers, students should access University of Memphis resources such as on-campus listings of academic internships or online job posts. If a student is interested in education, he or she should search for internships and jobs in that field as opposed to an unrelated part-time job, Woemmel said.
Social media is another growing factor in job searches.
"Especially LinkedIn," Woemmel said. LinkedIn is a professional website used to connect and share business interests and skills with potential employers.
Some employers also look at Twitter when considering job and internship applicants. Woemmel said to "tweet things that are of professional interest."
Ryan Kahn, professional recruiter, career coach and internship coordinator for Dream Careers, had a television show on MTV in which he helped students get their dream jobs. He now offers advice about what employers look for in potential employees.
Kahn said employers look at how relatable an applicant is, or if the applicant is "somebody they feel like they can get along with. You are going to be spending 40 hours a week at the job, so you want to be sure you get along," he said.
Employers also look for problem solvers, he said. "They need someone who will be able to not ask a thousand times how to do something," Kahn said. "Someone who can look for answers themselves."
With the abundance of technologies and programs used nowadays, multitasking has become more common in the work place. Businesses look for people who can "typically do a lot at once," Kahn said.
"They also are looking for somebody who comes up with new ideas," he said.
Most businesses are constantly trying to bring in revenue, so employers may favor applicants who show they can come up with new ideas.
For students feeling overwhelmed about getting their first post-college job, Kahn offered guidance for making the right first impression.
He said that applicants should find out with whom they will meet by doing background checks on the person's LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook profiles before going into an interview. By doing this, an applicant can find out what they have in common with the interviewer, which Kahn said helps create rapport.
As for the day of the interview, "dressing smart is important," Kahn said. But that doesn't necessarily mean a suit and tie. Kahn said it is important to fit in with the surroundings. For instance, if the other employees wear jeans and a polo, the proper interview attire would also be jeans and a polo.
Kahn emphasized being confident and enthusiastic. He said companies want employees that are dedicated.
"Look like you want to work there," Kahn said. 

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