Meeting Recruiters – The Perfect Handshake

First impressions are critical. Your first few seconds of interaction with a recruiter will likely effect how the recruiter perceives you throughout your interaction and handshakes can make or break first impressions. Here’s your guide the perfect handshake.

1. Introductions First – Extend Your Voice Before Your Hand
If you’re initiating an introduction with a recruiter (or anyone for that matter), begin with an oral introduction of yourself just before you extend your hand. Don’t be too hasty to go in for the handshake! The handshake should be the natural next step. You want your conversation partner to expect an incoming handshake. Going in for a handshake too early may result in an awkward handshake.

What to do if the recruiter introduces him/herself first and initiates the handshake (Recruiter:”Hi, I’m Sarah!”):
1) Repeat recruiter’s name as you begin to raise your hand and respond with your name as your hands meet for the handshake
2) Express that it’s good to meet them while shaking hands
e.g. “Sarah. Jake, good to meet you!” (The introduction should be short so the handshake does not extend for an uncomfortable period of time)

2. Extend Your Hand with Your Palm Facing Horizontally
Your palm should not be facing up or down. Upwards facing palms indicate that you are allowing your conversational partner to dominate the interaction. Downwards facing palms create the impression that you are going to dominate the conversation. Horizontally facing palms help initiate a conversation on equal grounds.

3. Look the Person in the Eyes
Strong eye contact conveys confidence and receptiveness to conversation. Avoiding eye contact will give the recruiter the impression that you are: 1) Not interested in the conversation with him/her, 2) Lack confidence, 3) Have just done something you feel ashamed or guilty of.

4. Give a Full and Firm Grip
When you grip make sure the webbing between your thumb and index is touching the webbing of the recruiter’s. This ensures a full grip. Your grip should not be limp, which conveys lack of confidence, or too firm, which conveys aggression. Your handshake should be firm enough to show confidence and warmth of personality.

5. Give 2-3 Pumps
When shaking hands aim for 2-3 pumps of the hand before releasing your grip. This is typically a long enough time to indicate your interest in conversing with the recruiter.

6. Shake From the Elbow, Not the Shoulder
When shaking hands, many people try to create a strong shake by using their shoulders to jolt the hand up and down. This handshake is too aggressive and lacks the controlled movement needed to convey real confidence. Such handshakes usually result in a large first pump and a short, jerky second pump. Using your elbow and forearm to control the pumps of your handshake allows you to maintain a steady upper body posture and create confident, uniform hand pumps.

7. Smile
A good smile says that you are open to conversation and looking forward to your interaction with the recruiter. However, forcing a smile can actually be a turn off to a conversational partner. A trick to producing a more genuine smile is to think of a funny or happy moment while smiling.

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