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PayScale’s VIP Blog Roundup: Fix a Bad First Impression

Topics: Career Advice
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In a perfect world, you’d never be late, or put your foot in your mouth, or make a mistake with a new boss or client. But you live in the real world, and every now and then — despite your best efforts — you’re going to make a bad first impression.

This week’s post begins with expert advice on how to redeem things after a bad start. That, plus email tips for job searchers and an answer for an Ask a Manager reader who wonders if it’s OK to knit during meetings, in our roundup.

Dorie Clark at Talent Culture: 4 Ways to Overcome a Bad First Impression

Why is it so hard to reverse a bad first impression? Blame human psychology.

“In a psychological phenomenon known as the ‘fundamental attribution error,’ humans are quick to ‘essentialize’ the behaviors of others,” Clark writes. “You might have simply been having a bad day, or you might have been off your game because of a recent breakup or death in the family, but your new colleague isn’t likely to extend that generous of an explanation. Instead, they’re far more likely to assume that your subpar performance is an essential trait — making it extremely challenging to overcome their negative perception. But, as I discuss in my book Reinventing You, it’s not impossible to change how others view you.”

Here are four ways to get started.

Do You Know What You're Worth?

Susan P. Joyce at Work Coach Café: 6 Rules for Smarter Email for Your Job Search

“Put yourself in the position of the recipient of your message. Why would they read your message? How will they react if they do read it?” Joyce writes.

Remember that an email is never just an email, when you’re sending it to a hiring manager or a recruiter. You’re being evaluated, right from the start. Fail to follow instructions, for example, and you could come off like someone who doesn’t care about the rules … or is too scattered to notice them. Find out how to prevent other common mistakes, in this post.

Alison Green at Ask a Manager: Can I Knit During Work Meetings?

In what might be my favorite Ask a Manager question ever — and that’s saying something — a reader writes in to ask Green if it’s OK to knit during meetings:

I work in a federal agency. I’ve been in my current position for about five years, but have recently taken on some responsibilities that require me to be in several all-day meetings per month, some with coworkers in my office, and some with colleagues from other state and federal agencies.

I realized several years ago in college that I can focus a lot better if I have something to do with my hands and took up knitting and crochet. Without that, my mind tends to wander and I click to another window on my laptop or open my phone. If I’m knitting, I can remain an active participant in the discussion.

That said, I’m concerned that knitting might be seen as too “crafty” and unprofessional, or may be misinterpreted that I’m not paying attention. Should I limit it to situations where the team already knows me, or not do it at all? Or should I trust that after a few meetings, it’ll be clear that I’m able to knit and participate at the same time? Until now, most of my long meetings have been conference calls, so it hasn’t been an issue because people couldn’t see me.

Green’s answer offers insight not only into this question, but figuring out office culture in general (whether or not you’re a knitter).

For what it’s worth, I think I’d rather have my colleagues knit in meetings, and pay attention, than disappear into multitasking madness on their laptops and tablets. But I’d love to hear what you think in the comments.

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Jen Hubley Luckwaldt
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