A Handshake: Leaving a Lasting Impression

by Kristy Amburgey

handshakeIt takes approximately three to seven seconds, depending on the research you find (one article suggested that it is even a blink of an eye), to make a first impression.  One of the most prominent rituals in the U.S.-based business world is a handshake, and a new contact can develop an immediate impression of you based on your handshaking skills.

How to shake hands is probably a well-known action for most job seekers, but there are several tips that you should be cognizant of when shaking.  First, you should stand when introduced to a new person, and you want to stand prior to shaking hands unless there is a physical need to remain seated.  It is best to introduce yourself before or as you shake hands.  Ensure that you hands are not too sweaty or wet from a drink; a quick wipe on your pants or napkin can be helpful.  Extend your hand perpendicular to the floor, and avoid rotating your palm up or down as you reach for the person’s hand.  Also, avoid a double handed shake as this could signal an attempt at dominance.  A firm handshake is appropriate where you are not squeezing too hard or offering a limp hand.  In addition, you don’t want to hold on to the shake too long; two to three pumps of the hands are appropriate.  Don’t pull the person’s hand toward you where it throws him or her off balance.  For anyone meeting a group of people, shake hands with everyone, not just the person who initiated the introduction or conversation.

One important note is that there should be no difference in how a man or woman shakes hands in the business world in this day and age.  In the past, there were often different etiquette rules, but everyone should receive the same, firm handshake from you.

A great handshake can leave any new acquaintance feeling confident in your abilities.  Paired with a smile and eye contact, you can leave a positive, lasting impression with one firm handshake.  Here is one final thought from Katie Gilbert in Psychology Today, “The best way to convey a solid image of yourself right off the bat, hands down, is with a solid handshake.”

Kristy Amburgey is the Associate Director of Career Services – Daytona Beach campus and currently manages marketing and employer relations for the department.  She has been with Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University for approximately 10 years and with Career Services for nine years.

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