The first social impression

As most job applicants know, social networking and micro-media sites are increasingly becoming a must check for employers when recruiting new talent. It’s not unusual for a recruiter to begin following you on Twitter, befriend you on Facebook…and then do a little behind the scenes audit of your content, thoughts and personality. Consider this the precursor to your first impression.
Fast forward to that first official job-related introduction or conversation with a potential employer. In most cases, this takes place via an email or telephone call, either just before or just after you’ve submitted a resume. Also, let’s say that you have exchanged tweets from time to time. How formal should you be?

A word of advice – err on the side of formality.

While casual conversations are the norm socially, they’re not such a great idea in many professional (or formal) situations – especially with a potential employer. A socially acceptable “Hey (fill in the name)” is almost never an appropriate salutation in business, especially if you have never met the person you are addressing. While this may be acceptable if you’re emailing a colleague whom you know quite well, it’s not ok to use when speaking with someone for the first time.

Social networking has encroached on the respectful formality most mid-career and older professionals associate with introductions. This holds true especially for the younger generations (I’m talking to you Gen Yers, although yes, there are always a few exceptions to the rule.) Ask yourself: do you really want to tweak a new business contact’s sense of propriety, when that contact (likely a Baby Boomer) is in a position to add you either to the staff, or place you in the reject pile?

You control this first wave of communication. Don’t drown in it because of inappropriate informality.

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