#AskIvanka: Good Impressions
Actions speak louder than words.
There’s a reason first impressions are so important. You subconsciously size up a person in the first few moments after meeting, based on how they treat you and the things they do—or don’t do. Whether you’re making a first impression in a job interview, or cementing an already existing perception, there’s an art to finding favor—and we asked Ivanka to weigh in on your questions on the topic.
Q: “How do you express interest in moving up in the company without giving off the wrong impression?” —Brad Talk
A: When you’re young, I think the number one way to show that you have the capacity to do more, is to do more. Take on things that you’re not being asked to do; be the first one in to the office, pick up those tasks that are falling by the wayside because they’ve never really been allocated a point person. Show a capacity for thoughtful execution. Over time, people will give you more to do when you’ve earned their trust and confidence and the greatest way to do this is to be a good surrogate and to take on functions that they’re seeking to outsource but haven’t found the person to delegate to yet.
Q: “What can you do to make your resume look better when you lack experience?” — Lorraine Yanick Bell
A: The reality is that when you’re young, you lack experience. I don’t think there’s this high level of expectation that in your early 20s you should have accomplished enormous feats in a professional capacity; but I think there are a lot of things you can do to connect with the person interviewing you and generally make yourself come to life on paper, if that’s the first opportunity to get in front of them—that resume they get sent via email or by mail. The first way to start is to articulate interest. I wouldn’t get too cute about it, unless you’re going for a very creative opportunity, but if you know how to speak French, even a little bit, write it down. Mention that you’re somewhat proficient in a foreign language. Talk about things that interest you. It may be as simple as you love going to museums and therefore have a fascination in art and a high curiosity level. I think using adjectives to describe and define yourself is really important. Are you a serious person, are you an incredibly diligent person, are you a curious person, are you outgoing and friendly? The more you can bring yourself to life on that little piece of paper, the more likely you are to elicit a reaction that makes somebody want to pick up the phone and bring you in for an actual interview.
Q: “What is your advice to someone still in high school?” -- Sara McDonald
A: For somebody still in high school, I’d say two things. Obviously, get great grades, that’s important. You’re creating the foundation for your life and seeking to go to college, and I hope you do; having great grades is very helpful in that capacity. But high-school and college is also a time to really discover yourself as a person—to try new things, to try internships, to take an art class; to try things that become harder to free up the time to do when you’re an adult and you have more responsibilities. So try those after-school curriculums. Try to spend time just being with friends and enjoying life, because those moments are amazingly fleeting. Work hard. Try and hone in on what it is that you want to do with your life. It probably won’t be clear right now; and maybe not even in several years, but experiment with a lot of things and see if you can start to get little signals about what it is that you’re passionate about.
Q: “How do I deal with a situation when I'm approaching a deadline, but missing information from another office? I can't tell my boss that it's someone else's fault, but I don't want to be blamed for being late.” — Nastassia Serpefsky
A: On a basic level, if you miss a deadline you’re expected to meet, you will be blamed, so you have to be thoughtful in advance. If you know somebody consistently disappoints you, you have to sit down with them and tell them about how their not meeting your expectation is causing you to disappoint your boss and not meet their expectation. If they do it more than once, I think you do have a responsibility to tell the person you work for if you’re unable to complete the task because you’re unable to get the input you need. I think it’s really important to work in a collaborative environment where you’re able to resolve these things peer-to-peer, but if you’re still not getting the response you need and it’s putting your job in jeopardy, then I think it’s something that you have to talk to your boss about. Missing deadlines is not good; it’s really not good. There are often consequences and it diminishes your credibility in the eyes of your superiors. If it truly is your responsibility and you’ve been proactive in talking candidly to the person who continues to let you down, then you don’t have much of a choice.