Recently I was asked to participate in two PRSSA events – PRSA Cleveland Student Day and a PRSSA chapter meeting at Marietta College. As a recent graduate myself, I was given the opportunity to share my story with students on how I got started while helping to provide career advice, resume editing and answer questions regarding agency life.

While meeting with students I couldn’t help but think of the importance of a first impression. It’s powerful and lasting, and regardless of how good your resume is, if your first impression is not favorable, you probably aren’t going to get the job. Here are four missteps I saw a few students make:

  • Don’t swear when talking with a professional. This seems like a no brainer, but I did have a student use a curse word in his ten minute resume review session. To me (and any professional) that’s a huge red flag.
  • Bring extra copies of your resume. You never know who may be joining you, and you want to make sure no one has to share a copy. This is true in the working world as well – ALWAYS print 3-5 extra copies of anything before leaving for a meeting.
  • Use your manners. Saying “please” and “thank you” go a long way when you’re first meeting someone. (Just please don’t call me “ma’am!”)
  • Showcase your grammar. Don’t use phrases like “ya know” as part of the conversation. Speak in full sentences and avoid any and all slang terms. No one wants to send an employee to a client meeting if they speak like they’re at a bar in college.

Of course every professional’s opinion is going to vary, but I think these are some tried- and-true tips to help make your first impression memorable and favorable.

What are your tips to help students make great first impressions?