By Melissa Lee, A.S., CCR, CRI
In life we are granted but one first: our first step, our first day at school, our first kiss. Firsts are so important, in fact, that it has been said that there is never a second chance to make a first impression. With that thought in mind, think about this: Potential employers often use Google and Internet-based social websites to glean information about an applicant they are considering for employment. If a picture is worth a thousand words, what do the pictures on your social media accounts tell a future employer about you, and what kind of first impression will they be left with?
When you graduate, your transcript will not be the only thing you are selling. You, too, become a part of the product you are marketing. Your behavior represents not only yourself, but your future employer and your court reporting community as a whole. The activities you choose to participate in, your dress and appearance all become indicators to others of the person you are long before your work product is ever seen. In fact, most people will come to know of you before they know you personally strictly based on a reputation that precedes you in a field where honesty, integrity, and discretion are paramount.
Knowing this is another important “first”; that is, the first step toward making first impressions that demonstrate to others who you are and that you are who they want. Start by guarding your name and your reputation the same way you would guard your Social Security number. Be mindful not only of the things you choose to post and say on social networking sites but the things you choose to allow yourself to be a part of or to participate in.
With that said, remember that it is not always the picture you post on your Facebook or Instagram account that can have a detrimental effect on the impression you leave with others; it can be the picture you allow to be taken of you that is later tagged on someone else’s social media account. Be mindful of the things you allow to be written on your wall. While you cannot control others and their opinions, you do have control over what is on your personal page and, presumably, reflects your opinions as well. While not always fair, some will be judged guilty by association; so choose your associates wisely.
While an ounce of prevention may be worth a pound of cure regarding one’s reputation and first impressions specifically, those who do have an embarrassing hiccup in their personal histories should remember this: Do not allow yourself to be defined by your mistakes but, rather, by how you choose to overcome them, never forgetting your lessons learned today and applying them to all your tomorrows. Own your past and the mistakes it holds so they won’t later own you. Be forthcoming regarding those errors in judgment so that you will never be presumed guilty of lying by omission.
While we strive for perfection, we will never be perfect. And while no firm is looking for perfection in an applicant, they are looking for someone that represents them, their values, and their company in a way they can be proud of and that they can sell to others. Begin this day becoming the reporter you want to market in your future by developing a reputation that you can be proud of and making first impressions that will convey to others the important asset you will be to their team.