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Get a Grip; What Does Your Handshake Say About You!

HandshakeI recently read a note about handshakes in a career journal and thought I would update and re-post the following that I wrote many years ago.

We assume everyone knows how to shake hands, right? Not so.

A recruiter shared with me the other day, how often he met college students and professionals who really did not know how to do a professional handshake.

It might seem silly, but your handshake is one of those things that people in general or hiring managers will remember about you. Your handshake says how confident or sure of yourself you are, even when you are nervous. If you are in the job search process or in the professional environment at all, keep these handshake tips in mind when you attend job fairs, meet managers or go to interviews:

1) Offer your hand while looking the other person in the eye. Smile, and share a quick introduction of yourself. eg. “Hello, my name is Jemal Student”.

2) Women should really be sure to offer a firm grip. Not hard. Just firm. The key is palm to palm contact. Limp fingers placed in someone else’s palm, with no movement does not make a handshake.

3) One, two or even three pumps of the hand, not too fast, will do.

4) Of course be sure your hands are clean, warm and dry. If you are like my daughter, whose hands are always cold, you may or may not want to say something about your own hands.

5) It’s all right to decline a handshake if you think you have a cold and want to be health conscious.  Usually that would be the only reason, unless you are in a place where culturally, the handshake doesn’t make sense.  We’ll deal with that in another blog post.

6) Don’t worry if you are the first to let go. It is perfectly appropriate to show you know when you are done.

A hearty handshake is one way to demonstrate your confidence and professionalism. Don’t be shy about extending your hand to as many people as you can and practice getting your handshake just right.

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