Confessions of A Legal Recruiter: Subtle Ways People Judge You

Like they say, first impressions are often correct.

It’s human nature to judge people the first time we meet them. We do it unconsciously, and that’s why first impressions are so important in every aspect of our lives. Within the first seven seconds of meeting someone, most will form an impression of who you are.

Logically one would conclude that we make judgments based upon the content of conversations. Actions, not words are how we judge others. Subtle behaviors such as handshakes and body language shape our opinions about others, more so than any other criteria.

Learning how to master these subtle behaviors can help further potentially successful relationships.

Confessions of a Legal Recruiter TM .001

Here are the top ways to make a good first impression:

Actions Speak Louder Than Words
People will draw conclusions about your character based on how you treat others. How you treat people is a true indicator of your disposition. When at a restaurant or at the grocery store how we interact with supporting staff speaks volumes of what type of person you are.

“Most candidates play nice when they’re speaking to the hiring manager or the principals of the firm, but often get caught treating others with disdain or indifference when hailing a cab or out at on the town,” said Shari Davidson, President of On Balance Search Consultants.

Don’t Worry, Be Happy
Nobody likes a “Debbie Downer”. A persistent climate of negativity can bring down an entire organization. Flashing a smile when you meet people can go a long way toward conveying a positive attitude.

Business Etiquette (see also, Business Etiquette: Boardroom To BallroomThere’s nothing more disrespectful that texting or taking a call during a business meeting. Doing so conveys a lack of respect, attention, listening skills, and willpower. When taking a meeting you must give your audience your undivided attention.

Nervous Ticks
Taping your fingers are touching your nails or face are nervous twitches indicating you are either nervous, overwhelmed or insecure.  Keep your hands folded when seated and by your sides while standing.  Don’t use excessive hand motions while talking and maintain a cool, confident composure.

It’s Not About You, But Them
The best way to win someone over is to get them to talk about themselves. Let’s face it, people who only talk about themselves tend to be loud and self-absorbed.  Learn about the other people in the room, listen and ask good questions. You’ll be surprised how well people think of you when the conversation is about them.

“When we feel we are not being listened to, we feel devalued”, said Shari Davidson. Maintain good eye contact, lean forward in a discussion, and comment from time to time to reassure the speaker that you’re paying attention.  

The Universal Greeting
People associate a weak handshake with a lack of confidence or lack of respect towards the other person. A firm handshake equates with being less shy, less neurotic, and more extroverted.

Value Time
Being late holds everyone up, nothing can get started until the team is on hand. Being tardy indicates a lack of respect, being lazy or simply that you are inconsiderate.

Nobody likes having to wait on anything. People form negative impressions when given time to think why you are late. A proactive person will be there on time, because they are self-motivated, mentally organized, and value time.

Walk The Walk
Body language is a reflection of your inner self. Are you slumped and slouching, or standing (or sitting) tall and confident? Is your posture open or closed? Are you aware of others around you and mindful of them in your movements?

What You Wear Is Who You Are
How you dress instantly provides others with a sense of your style and attention to detail. Dress for every occasion, never dress down and remember that a well pressed shirt and polished shoes make all the difference.

Maintain Good Eye Contact
Before you begin talking, establish eye contact. Don’t look down or look at something before you begin speaking. Establish eye contact right away and then begin talking.

Final Thoughts
The ways others perceive you has much to do with no one other than yourself. Making unconscious changes may take some time and effort. The good news is that most of these encounters are staged, so you can prepare yourself mentally before heading into a situation. Remember the basic behaviors that you must convey during the meeting.

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About On Balance Search Consultants
On Balance offers great insight and industry intelligence. Shari Davidson, president of On Balance Search Consultants, advises law firms on how to take a firm to the next level and helps rising talent make the transition to the right law firm. Contact us today. Call 516.731.4300 or visit our website at

Please note that the content of this blog does not constitute legal advice and is only intended for the educational purpose of the reader. Please consult your legal counsel for specifics regarding your specific circumstances and the laws in your states.

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