8 Tips to Master The Art of a Winning Handshake

 

Ah, the handshake. A simple social grace toward which thousands of articles and seminars have devoted countless efforts deconstructing, analyzing, and perfecting. And yet, the notion of the “ideal” greeting seems to vary across the board. Some advocate a tight grip, a slight squeeze of the elbow, a flick of the wrist…alas, you may feel as though you are mastering sleight of hand in the end. Bear in mind, however, that all tricky, crafted handshakes aim only to appear simple, personable, and to the point.

So it is with this in mind that we distill for you a few basic tips to ensure you will confront your interviewer with a winning handshake to match your winning self.

1. Make a Strong First Impression

A handshake is part of a first impression. You get one shot. No do over’s on this one – if you creepily go in for the other guy’s hand again, you may inspire alarm. The handshake is a chance for you to connect with someone the moment of your very first encounter. Use this to your advantage. A handshake can at once be warm and friendly, which sets a great tone for the rest of your meeting.

2. Find a Happy Medium

What if someone asked you to stick your hand in a vice? Would you do it? Unless you’re being surly, the answer is likely “No”. So please, avoid extending the death grip toward your unsuspecting interviewer. A handshake shouldn’t be a show of bravado. Likewise, don’t be a wet noodle. Weak, floaty handshakes are awkward, and leave the person on the other end of them hesitant to make the next move for fear that they might break you. A good handshake is one that is firm without causing pain. Relaxed and snug. You get the idea.

3. Don’t Sweat It

Offering up a clammy hand may ruin an otherwise masterful handshake. A handshake should be over when it ends, not stick around with your sweat. Make sure your hand is clean and dry when you are introducing yourself to someone. If you tend to perspire when you’re nervous, keep a tissue or a handkerchief in your pocket.

4. Calm with the Palm

A solid handshake should last for about two to three shakes. After that, it can feel like manhandling. Don’t let your companion imagine that they’re holding onto an old school generator.

5. Eye Contact

Another simple rule: eyes meet with the eyes, and hand meets with the hand. Looking a person in the eye exudes confidence and is much more respectful. Avoid looking down at the other person’s hand while you go in for the shake – it comes off as insecure. This may seem like a tricky dance, but if you practice with a friend, you’ll have the steps and coordination down in no time.

6. Say Hello

There’s nothing worse than dead silence when you go in for a handshake. A handshake is a greeting, so greet the person with a friendly, “Hi, it’s nice to meet you.” Top off the routine by showing off your pearly whites.

7. Show Initiative

When you walk up to meet with an interviewer, extend your hand first. This shows that you are poised and ready to take action. It’s not the end of the world if you don’t make the overture, but never show hesitation when shaking hands. The gesture should be friendly and comfortable.

8. Seal the Deal

You walked in, made eye contact, smiled, said “Hello”, and executed an all-around wicked handshake. Now you get to do it all over again! (And you thought it was all over…) When you excuse yourself from another’s company, make sure to shake hands one more time. The great thing about handshakes is that they’re so versatile. Perfect for many a situation, and just as appropriate for a farewell as a greeting. A departing handshake reaffirms the kinship that you established with the other person, and serves as a final signing off.

And, once your hand is free from the clutches of another, don’t forget to wave goodbye!

Language Secrets for a Successful Job Search

By Alesia Benedict, CPRW, JCTC – GetInterviews.com

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On the job circuit, it is important to be yourself and clearly express your experience and ability in a way that will resonate with recruiters.  Sincerity is a critical component of being authentic, however you may need to massage your language to make sure the hiring manager is listening.  Of course you don’t want to deceive a potential employer with a trumped-up version of yourself.  That is very similar to padding your resume – a definite no-no in the world of successful job seekers. What you must do to ensure a receptive audience is to say all the right things – in the right way.

1.  Use the Language of Results.

Most CEOs are interested in how your behavior and enthusiasm can help the company move toward specific goals and objectives. An effective strategy includes researching the company for new initiatives, pet projects, or even community involvement and aligning your key work experiences with the activities receiving corporate attention.  Critical information will provide the frame for presenting your skills to the employer. Highlight strengths and experiences that parallel the business intelligence gathered in your research efforts.

Tailor your presentation to garner extra attention from a hiring manager.  Interest may be generated from shared efforts on a community project, HR committee work on social events (translates to improved morale in the language of the CEO), or attending city council meetings on zoning issues (the Division Manager will see you as a trusted representative of the company, as well as a Subject Matter Expert on community relations and regulations).

2.  Verbalize How You Get Things Done.

Gather several sample job descriptions for plum positions and study them for skill areas emphasized.  Sure, every position will share some basic skills that form the core of that profession, but each company has unique expectations within a specific corporate culture.  Compare the job descriptions with your personal work history, not just in terms of basic qualifications, but also in terms of added-value you bring to the table from your personality, extensive contacts, or significant accomplishments. Help the hiring manager understand how you will enhance the team’s functioning, levels of productivity, or bottom line when you deliver your significant skill set.

3.  Listen for Clues.

Many companies share an idiosyncratic language that reflects the corporate mission. Listen to how individuals talk and write.  By identifying trends, such as “do you see what I’m talking about” or “I hear what you’re saying”, you have tapped into clues about how individuals understand the world around them.  Neuro-linguistic Programming (NLP) suggests mirroring the language of those around you helps to create a bond of shared vision and direction. You will make a solid connection.

4.  Utilize Action Words.

Using powerful language conveys your individual influence and authority. It is not necessary to be in a position of authority to communicate that type of strength to others. When job-seeking, you may feel as though you are an underdog in interactions, but this is the time to step up your game and project your confidence and competence. Action words are a great way to do so. Your list of accomplishments may include “projects executed”, “costs contained”, or “profits accelerated”.

5.  Express Professional Passion.

Passion ignites interest. Define your professional passion by listing all the career-related activities that excite you. Don’t be afraid to express those professional passions by talking about what energizes you. Enthusiasm is contagious and most employers are drawn to candidates who are energized about the profession, their company, or the mere possibility of making a well-defined contribution. Whether you are a dreamer or a doer, you have specific skills to offer – get excited and don’t be shy about sharing.

6.  Incorporate Nonverbal Messages.

Remember the power of body language in addition to all other types of communication. Pay attention to your nonverbal messages as well as those of the hiring manager. In any face-to-face interactions, use the basics of good eye contact, a firm handshake, and an open stance.  If the body language of the other person doesn’t seem as open, try engaging him/her in conversation that is appropriately upbeat. If you are in the office, pay attention to objects on the desk for clues to possible conversation starters – a favorite sports team or plaque of recognition. Over the phone or email, introduce your interest in a special corporate project.

Put these secrets to work and you will be communicating with prospective employers at many different levels. Being able to effectively match the hiring manager’s communication style in multiple ways maximizes a sense of connection and shared vision. Speaking the same language helps the prospective employer see you as part of the team, getting you a few steps closer to landing that plum position!

About the Author: Alesia Benedict, Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW) and Job and Career Transition Coach (JCTC) is the President of GetInterviews.com, the country’s leading resume writing firm. They provide professionals with customized, branded resumes and career marketing documents. Her and her firm’s credentials include being cited by JIST Publications as one of the “best resume writers in North America,” quoted as a career expert in The Wall Street Journal, and published in a whopping 25+ career books. Established in 1994, the firm has aided more than 100,000 job seekers to date. All resume writers are certified writers. GetInterviews.com offers a free resume critique and their services come with a wonderful guarantee — interviews in 30 days or they’ll rewrite for free!