When you’re trying to land a job – first impressions counts. Can you impress a recruiter before even meeting them? It’s possible. Here are some tips on how to create a great first impression (before you even get to the interview).

Clean up your online presence

Here’s a fact: whenever you apply for a job, a hiring manager will Google your name and check out your social media profiles.

Don’t panic. While you can’t completely control search results, you can make sure that your online presence is as professional as possible. First, take stock of all your social media profiles, and remove anything that might be inappropriate. If you’re not sure what constitutes inappropriate, put yourself in the shoes of the hiring manager; would you call yourself for an interview based on the things you’re sharing on Facebook?

Scrubbing your social profiles, however, is not always enough – especially if you have a common name. To stand out on the search results page (which can be a good thing when you’re applying to jobs), consider creating a personal blog or website. Whether you’re creating original content, or simply presenting your resume, skills, and past work, a personal website can be a valuable tool to control the things inquisitive hiring managers find online.

It can also be quite handy in your quest to…

Become a thought leader on social media

Many people today are using social media to establish themselves as thought leaders in their fields. This, of course, is easier said than done. To become a thought leader requires a lot of time and effort. It isn’t something that can happen overnight. Becoming a thought leader involves creating and posting original content, engaging in discussions with professionals in your industries, and then sharing and liking their content.

Thought leaders are usually also active members of relevant Facebook and LinkedIn groups, and platforms like Twitter, Quora, Yahoo Answers, Inbound, Reddit, and more. Whatever channel you choose, the important thing is to be consistent. To establish yourself as an “expert” in the field, you need to provide consistently valuable solutions or ideas on a regular basis. The more value you can bring to people, the more you’ll become a trusted source, with a solid list of contacts, and an archive of great content – all of which will be very impressive to a hiring manager.

If you’re not sure what sort of content you should focus on, ask yourself a few questions: What is your area of expertise? Are there any tips you could share with people in the industry? Is there an issue that no one is talking about? Aside from addressing these issues on your website or social platforms, you can also pitch them to magazines and blogs. Guest blogging can be an easy way to get your name out and increase your credibility.

Emphasize your unique value proposition

In case you don’t know the term, the unique value proposition of a service, product, or person is the differentiating factor that describes its unique benefits. For example, Uber bills itself as “the smartest way to get around.”

“As an applicant, a unique value proposition can create a significant difference between you and your competitors,” says Dana Michaels, HR manager at Careers Booster. “Take your unique value proposition and place it everywhere online. Your website, your LinkedIn, your Facebook profile – they should all say it loud.”

Get as many referrals as you can

Referrals matter. Do you know any of the employees that work for the company you’re applying to? If you do, you have a huge advantage, as the word of an already-established employee will have a big impact on the recruiter’s opinion (and attention span). If you get recommended by an insider – even if he or she doesn’t work in the same department you’re trying to get to – you’ll stand a much better chance of getting hired.

But what if you don’t have an inside connection? In that case, you should start looking for mutual connections on LinkedIn. If you can find someone, ask this person for a referral (or an introduction). This can be an awkward thing to ask, but don’t be shy. There is no shame in putting yourself out there; you might just be able to repay the favour someday. If you’re at a loss how to do this properly, the Muse has an e-mail template for how to properly ask someone for a referral.

These tips do require some prep work and dedication, but the more time you put in, the better your chances of finding your dream job. Good luck!


Eva Wislow is a career coach and HR expert from Pittsburgh. She focuses on helping people break down their limits to find their dream job. Follow Eva on Twitter.