When you’re unemployed, you will meet a lot of people as you network and interview to get your next job. Naturally, you can expect to shake a lot of hands.
Sure, a typical handshake only lasts a few seconds and is easily forgettable. Can you remember your last handshake with someone? Who was that person? Was it memorable? You have probably experienced a handshake with someone who had a weak grip. Maybe it was your fault that you grasped the other person’s fingers instead of their whole hand. Has someone ever grasped your hand incorrectly or squeezed too hard? What was your impression of that person?
If the average handshake is so easily forgettable, what’s the point of even discussing it? Well, have you ever had a bad handshake? Yes. You can remember those pretty well. From dead fish handshakes to finger-crushing ones, they tend to stick around in our memories.
As a job seeker, your handshake is probably the most neglected tool in your networking arsenal.
What’s the big deal?
Almost subliminally, a bad handshake can affect someone’s entire opinion of you. After meeting with you, do you want an employer to reflect back on you, thinking “they seemed great, but something was just off about them…”?
Additionally, if an employer makes note of your lousy handshake, it could affect the hiring process in a whole different way. Would an employer really want an employee interacting with customers if they’ve got a clammy grip? Probably not.
What can I do?
The handshake is so simple to do, right? So why does the bad handshake still happen? Don’t let a bad handshake keep you from the job of your dreams. Look out for clammy hands, misplaced grip, and learn how to impress with your handshake.
Clammy hands? Avoid clenching your fist, relax your hands palm down on the tops of your thighs, or keep your relaxed and open hands in your pockets.
Misplaced grip? You wouldn’t leave for an interview without looking at yourself in the mirror, would you? Practice your handshake right before an interview. A roommate, a parent, anyone who will give you the time of day and an honest opinion can give you practice and feedback on your handshake.
Is that it? The handshake is not slap or a high-five, and it is not an arm-wrenching motion like you’re pumping water from a well.
The perfect handshake is a smooth and swift, confident raising of your hand, which is placed firmly in the palm of your connection’s hand. It requires that you look that person in the eyes, hold a firm, but not too tight, grip and smile. Stifle your nerves and give a genuine smile with your eyes. When you smile you put the other person at ease, they smile, and you can both relax. This is your chance to connect with the other person. In the next few seconds, you will say something, ask a question, give a compliment, or comment on something you have in common, then release the hand, but hold that connection with the other person in the ensuing conversation.
Practice your handshake before your next interview. It is the best opportunity to make a solid first impression, and might just be the deciding factor that gets you hired.
How important do you think a good handshake is in the hiring process?
Tony Morrison is the Vice President at Cachinko, a unique professional community where social networking and job opportunities come together. His roles include sales, marketing, and business development. He is passionate about building B2B and B2C client relationships and brings this passion to Cachinko where he focuses on helping job seekers to find their ideal job and employers to find, attract, and engage their next rock star candidates. Find him on Twitter and Talent Connection. And, connect with Cachinko on Facebook or Twitter.