Could you be leaving a smelly first impression?

Photo by NDomer73

In this age of networking, emphasis is on how to create a great first impression. But compared to 10 or 15 years ago, that first impression is created in new and different ways. First impressions matter in business, building personal and networking relationships, and of course, in a job search or interview.

The Olden Days of In Person First Impressions

In the “olden” days, I primarily coached clients on how critical it is to make a good first impression in person. If someone planned to drop off their new resume right after they left my office, I often emphasized that you should be prepared for an interview at any point.

Running in to drop off your resume wearing your old smelly gym sweats, 3 days growth of a beard, or greasy hair doesn’t make a good first impression. Imagine your horror, if the manager happened to be walking through the office and wanted to do a quick interview.

Just a quick recap of recommended social protocols for in-person contacts or interviews:

  1. Shower daily – should be common sense but if you suffer from sinus conditions that make it hard for you to breathe normally or just have an incredible bad sense of smell, you could be repelling people without knowing it.
  2. Use deodorant  to avoid body odor – I know there are some people who are allergic to different types of products but find one that works for you and use it daily.
  3. Check your feet for foot odor – The quality of foot odor is often reported as a thick, cheesy smell which can be extremely unpleasant. Did you know Brevibacteria are considered a major cause of foot odor. The brevibacteria is also what gives cheeses such as Limburger, Bel Paese, Port du Salut, and Munster their characteristic pungency.
  4. Brush your teeth and use mouthwash and potentially keep gum or breath spray in your pockets for those times between brushing to avoid bad breath.
  5. Dress Appropriately when going to an interview – find out ahead of time what the corporate culture is and dress one step above that level. Even if everyone wears blue jeans, don’t wear them to the interview. Corporate casual might be the directive but you still are best to stick to a little more formal style but not as formal as a 3 piece suit or power suit unless you know the position requires it.

A whole different kind of first impression

In this day of online applications, you may not be walking your resume into an office as frequently but now you have even more places that you could be creating a “stinky” first impression. Even if you are not in a job search, you could be creating that “smelly” poor first impression that will follow you into personal relationships, business networking, or potential growth opportunities.

How you ask? You can be checked out by almost anyone anywhere when you have an online presence. You have perhaps heard of digital dirt, I talked about that in the Law of Subtraction post. Here are some other scenarios.

  1. You’re looking for a new man or woman in your life. You have a bad experience on a date or worse, you get stood up. You whine about it on Facebook or Twitter.  You just condemned everyone of the opposite gender in one fell swoop. But you don’t realize that other potential dates are reading your comments.
  2. You are looking to build contacts for your new business launch. You spend all your time on social media pushing your particular political agenda. Politics have their place but if you are in building or growth mode, you don’t know who would rather stay out of the fray. Don’t blow those relationships.
  3. You are trying to connect with people who can help you find a new job. You spend most of your time cutting down your past employer or worse blasting off about the people in your last interview.

Let the skunk rule the smelly wars! You can smell like a rose both in-person and online!


  1. Melissa Cooley on March 1, 2011 at 11:55 pm

    All great suggestions, Julie!

    I just wanted to add one — the overuse of fragrance. While the person using it may think they smell wonderful, they could be causing someone else to be wheezing from the strength of it. They should go really lightly with the scent, or better yet, not at all.

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Julie Walraven, Design Resumes

Julie Walraven

Professional Resume Writer

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