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Seven seconds. According to Business Insider, this short amount of time represents the time frame in which you make a first impression. How you speak, carry and present yourself will determine your success in these seven seconds. Whether at an interview, job site, trade show or in the office, practiced communication and presentation will help you establish a positive first impression in all realms of professional interactions.

First comes landing the job. These seven seconds will seem even shorter when presenting yourself during an interview. A solid resume is important (it got you to the interview), however, at the point of the interview, your presentation of who you are matters the most in relation to how you will represent the company as a potential employee. While we would all like to think that people don’t judge based on our exterior appearance, during the seven second impression time, your exterior comes first. That’s life. Know the situation and how you should dress. When in doubt, overdressed always wins over underdressed in an interview setting. In addition, while punctuality may not represent how you look, being late will definitely count against you, starting the interview off on the wrong foot. It should go without saying that your phone should stay out of sight, either off or on silent for the duration of the interview.

Whether first meeting during an interview or coming across a new coworker after you have landed the job, always lead with a firm handshake and remain mindful of eye contact. While too much eye contact may come off as “creepy,” an absence of eye contact displays a lack of confidence. A solid first impression is more important than you think. A negative first impression in the office can lead to missing out on a job opportunity or cause potential issues later in your career. According to Business Magazine, companies tend to hire based on your attitude rather than your work experience. Carry yourself with confidence, speak with poise and dress for the situation.

After successfully representing yourself during the interview, first impressions won’t stop when you get the job. From your first day in the office to conversations with co-workers, on job sites and at trade shows, the seven seconds to make a positive impression will follow you throughout your career. Keep your handshake firm and keep the positive attitude going. Avoid the usual controversial subjects. Be a team player. Mention your willingness to help coworkers if they ever need an extra hand. Overall, keep an open dialogue and continue to portray yourself with the poise and confidence that lead your employer to choose you to represent their company.

Jill Gerwig and Amy Paschke represent the membership, marketing and editorial departments of the Minnesota Builders Exchange.