Career Resources

Make a Professional First Impression

Jerri Ann Lamb

How to make a professional first impression before uttering a single word

As a Registered Dietitian with 10 years of experience recruiting RD’s I have had the opportunity to speak with A LOT of Registered Dietitians and Dietetic Students. The most common questions I am asked have to do with topics on resume building (primarily concerned with the content and the length), interviewing, networking, job searching, career building, and salaries (talk about putting the cart before the horse). These are all VERY important topics but in the meantime there are a few equally important topics overlooked.

My first article for NutritionJobs will start with just that, an overlooked topic, “How to make a professional first impression before uttering a single word.” We have all heard the saying, “You never get a second chance to make a first impression”. It is simple. Your first impression can start before you even speak to a potential employer. Keep in mind perception is reality. However your first impression is perceived, it is reality for the employer, whether it is true or not.

Your email address is a first impression. Avoid email addresses like LazyLauren@… or KeggerKelly@… or weluvpuppies@… or luv2sleep@… I think you get the picture. Your contact information on your resume is a first impression. Most often you are concerned with the content and length of your resume and, although they are important, if an employer cannot find or read your contact information you could be the President of the United States and it would not help you get the job.

Your contact information should be updated and correct. Employers do not have time to find candidates with disconnected phone numbers and non-existent email address. ” Put your contact information at the top of the page in a 14 or greater font. Try to avoid changing phone numbers or email addresses, especially during your job search. ” If you have to make changes to your email address or phone number keep at least one of them the same, if possible.

Your voicemail is a first impression. When you want to portray a professional first impression you MUST have a professional voicemail. As a Registered Dietitian Recruiter I frequently come across voicemails that leave less than a professional impression to say the least. You be the judge. I have heard voicemails that start with 30 seconds of music then say something like “leave a message.. or not.. or whatever you want to do at the beep.” Recently I heard a message that had a gum smacker on the other end more worried about getting the lasting taste out of her juicy fruit than starting her career. It went something like this “Hi. SMACK, SMACK, SMACK, I can’t answer the phone. SMACK, SMACK, but leave a message. SMACK, SMACK, SMACK. BEEEEEP. Yes, I am serious. This really happened. I have also heard a young child singing, “I love you, you love me, we’re good friends as friends should be” we all know the song and although cute it does not give a professional first impression when your looking for the next big opportunity in your career.

A few voicemail suggestions:

  • “You have reached the Lamb Family and we’re sorry we missed your call, please leave a message with your phone number and we will return your call. Thank you and have a pleasant day.”
  • “You have reached the voicemail of ___. Please leave a message and your phone number and I will return you call. Thank you for calling.”
  • One final bonus tip on creating a voicemail. When making the recording, SMILE. You can actually hear someone smiling when they are talking and it leaves a positive, upbeat first impression. Really, it works.

There are many more nuances to creating a professional impression; these are just a good start for a first impression. Look for more great topics discussed in the future, like interviewing, resumes, negotiations, networking, portfolios, communication, public speaking, mentoring, and more.

Jerri Ann Lamb has been a Registered Dietitian for 15 years. Currently she is the only RD that has specialized in exclusively resourcing Registered Dietitians in Healthcare and Hospitality for more than 10 years. As founder and Operator of Dietitian Select Jerri Ann is passionate about resourcing Registered Dietitians. Visit Contact Jerri Ann at and 859-553-4187.

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