Whether you’re going for a new job or aiming higher at work, you might be wondering how to stand out to the right people and make a great impression.
And while skills and experience are important, your attitude and personal qualities can really help you make a great impression.
With that in mind, here are five qualities to focus on demonstrating if you want to make a positive and lasting impression.
- Express confidence
We’re not necessarily born with confidence, and feeling confident can be especially difficult if you’re facing a long job search or the pressure of an interview. But confidence is something you can build and demonstrate to others.
A simple greeting is one effective way to express confidence, says Robert van Stokrom, CEO of DFP Recruitment Services. “A smile and good eye contact during a greeting are enough to indicate the person you’re meeting is confident,” he says.
Confidence can help you make a memorable impression because it’s assuring. Confident people give off a sense that they know what they’re doing, and believe in it. Showing confidence can also include knowing your strengths, skills and the successes you’ve had, and being comfortable talking about them when you need to – such as in an interview, or when you’re pitching to take on a project.
To build confidence, try keeping a folder or list of milestones, accomplishments and feedback – big and small. This might mean recording positive responses from customers or clients, noting that you successfully ran your first team meeting, or writing down praise from a boss or colleague. This way you can remind yourself of what you’ve achieved and get a confidence boost when you need it.
- Show curiosity
Curiosity suggests that you’re eager to learn, explore new things or find a better way. It’s understandable that employers could see curiosity as a great quality – a strong desire to learn, problem solve or adapt to new situations could be really valuable in the workplace.
One of the simplest ways to express curiosity is of course by asking questions. Asking your own questions in a job interview can help you demonstrate your interest in the role. Prepare your questions thoughtfully to show that you’ve done research, and ask about topics that you’re truly interested in.
Interviews aside, when you meet new people or expand your network, asking questions can show that you’re interested in your industry, and can make for more interesting discussions. And in the workplace, demonstrating your curiosity by asking questions can show that you’re engaged, and willing to learn and improve. It might also help you come across new ways to solve problems.
- Demonstrate your passion
Passion is a term that’s become so common, it might feel overused. But passion is a quality that is still genuinely appealing in the workplace, because it can have a such a positive impact on the way you work and what you can achieve in a role.
“Passion is motivation and energy,” van Stokrom says. “It shows that a person is driven, is willing to work hard, has ambition, and is eager to learn.”
When you’re applying for a role or in an interview, don’t just say you’re passionate – demonstrate how you’re passionate by providing detail. For example, rather than saying, ‘I’m passionate about being a librarian’, you might explain, ‘I have a life-long love of reading, I care deeply about helping others to find the resources they need and I love to sharpen my research skills whenever I can.’
In an interview, if you’re asked the question ‘So, tell me about yourself’ it could be a good opportunity for you to talk about your passion.
In the workplace, demonstrating your passion could include finding ways you can understand the impact of the work you’re doing, taking on opportunities to learn, and researching trends or developments in your industry.
- Show that you’re proactive
Like being passionate, being proactive is often mentioned in position descriptions – but there’s good reason for it. It’s a quality that shows that you’re able to get things done, can be independent, and that you’re likely willing to challenge the status quo.
Van Stokrom says it’s an easily identifiable and very notable quality too. “When I meet someone who’s self-reliant, has an ability to take charge, is first to act, and responds well to change, I’m nothing short of impressed.”
To show you’re proactive in a work setting, you might look at ways to plan your time effectively so you can think forward and be ready for what’s next, rather than just responding to set tasks. Being proactive might mean factoring in obstacles that could come up in your work so you can deal with them effectively.
It could mean asking your boss or manager for feedback, rather than waiting for them to provide it. Or it might mean paying close attention to what’s happening around you and building up your understanding of the business, so you can spot opportunities to improve things.
If you want to show potential employers that you’re proactive, prepare examples that show this in action. For example, if you work in customer service and notice a certain query comes up repeatedly, you could make a ‘cheat sheet’ for you and your co-workers on how to handle it.
An interview question such as ‘Give me an example of a time you took initiative’ could also be a good opportunity to demonstrate this.
- Communicate clearly
Being a great communicator doesn’t mean you have to deliver a convincing speech or write impressively. All kinds of interactions give you a chance to show and improve your communication skills, whether it’s an email to colleagues, a phone call, or a team chat you have to plan work.
Communication is a two-way street, and great communicators are also good, active listeners. And no matter the work environment you’re in, great communication skills will always come in useful. “There’s no position in the world in which having a strong ability to listen, understand and then speak clearly isn’t a positive thing,” van Stokrom says.
If you want to focus on communicating clearly for an interview, practicing answers to common interview questions is a useful way to prepare and boost your confidence. And if you’re looking to brush up on your communication skills in general, try understanding your current style and improving your listening skills.
Demonstrating passion, curiosity, confidence, communication skills and that you can be proactive can be really valuable in helping you to make a great impression.
In the employment world, making a memorable impression won’t necessarily secure you a job or promotion. But it may help you to grow your network, do well in an interview or important meeting, and have people think of you for opportunities – things that could all make a real difference to your working life.