April 20, 2014

Perfecting The Perfect Handshake

If you’re a job seeker, we highly recommend networking more. Life is all about who you know. Every contact you make has the potential to set you up for success. Be social. Meet people. Shake hands.

Shaking hands has been a social ritual dated as far back as 5th century BC in Greece. Now it’s an everyday occurrence. Handshakes are a universally accepted way to meet and greet. How many times per day do you shake someone’s hand? A dozen? Two dozen? More?

Every time you meet or greet someone you should shake their hand. While a handshake is an often overlooked part of an introduction, it says a lot about you. It’s always a good idea to make a good first impression.

Think back on all of the handshakes you’ve had over the years – especially the ones in a professional setting like an interview, business meeting, or networking event. How do you feel after a good handshake? How about after a bad one? A professional handshake is important.

Luckily, it’s easy to nail the perfect handshake. First you have to eliminate the limp grip and sweaty palms. Add in a little confidence and you’ll be well on your way to be a handshaking champion.

There are many types of handshakes out there. In the professional world, you need to keep it simple. Here are a few pointers to help you dial in your professional handshake:

  • Adjust Your Grip Strength – A firm handshake exudes confidence. Avoid a bone crushing grip or the wet noodle.
  • Know When To Extend – Handshakes are almost always appropriate whenever you meet someone new, greet a person you know, or when a hand is extended to you. Never leave an extended hand unshook.
  • Use The Correct Hand – Shaking hands with your right hand is the common practice, but be ready to shake with the left too.
  • Be A Shaking Expert – Two shakes from the elbow is ideal. It’s a simple up and down movement. One or three is okay, but when you shake four times or more it becomes a bit excessive.
  • Maintain Eye Contact – Maintain eye contact and smile throughout the handshake.

Now that you know what to think about, get a friend (maybe someone else who is perfecting their handshake) and practice. Shake hands. Get some feedback. Do it again. It may sound ridiculous, but it’s time well spend – especially if you’re a job seeker. A bad handshake is the quickest way to ruin a job interview. That first impression is super important.

Dial in your handshake before the next job fair, networking party, or job interview. You’ll be glad you did.

About this Author 

Derek Lennon is a skier and writer who lives, works, and plays in the mountains. He travels the globe in search of snow and adventure. Life has allowed him to live and work all over the world doing cool jobs and loving every minute of it.

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