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Getting a job in today’s economy is tough. The dwindling recession is still characterized by unusually high levels of unemployment, which makes it harder than ever for the unemployed to get back on their feet and back into the workforce. There are too many people competing for too few positions resulting in a job search process that is often brutal, depressing and all too often unsuccessful.

It’s not enough to be qualified and to have all the right references. You often need an additional edge to separate you from the pack of other job applicants. You can get this edge through effective management of your body language.

Many job applicants are sabotaging themselves because they are non-verbally communicating low confidence and low self-esteem. To represent yourself successfully in a job interview, you need to project an air of confidence and ability. High confidence sells, while fear and doubt poison the impression you make on others. A lack of confidence manifests itself in your body language and can ruin your chances in a job interview.

How important is body language? Research points out that up to 93% of the impact you have is influenced by factors other than the words you use. It’s not enough to say the right things; you need to back up your words nonverbally with the right image and impression.

Try these five body language tips during your next job interview:

  1. Use a firm handshake – In the minds of most people, weak and limp handshakes equal weak character. Be sure you deliver your handshake with a firm grip while looking them right in the eye.
  2. Watch your posture – There is a definitive difference between a confident posture and a posture that communicates low self-esteem. The best advice is the same your mother gave you, sit up straight (ramrod down your back) with your feet firmly planted on the floor. Again, slumping equals low self-esteem or even disinterest.
  3. Make eye contact – Regular, strong eye contact is associated with confidence, honesty and boldness. Making eye contact is vital.
  4. Monitor your vocal delivery – Experts estimate up to 38% of our communication is conveyed by our voice and vocal qualities, which means you need to pay attention not only to what you say, but also how you say it. When we’re nervous, we tend to speak faster and at a higher pitch, which robs us of our authority. Take a tip from the acting profession and practice speaking slowly and deliberately.
  5. Pay attention to the interviewer’s body language – You want to convince the interviewer that you’ll be a good fit for the company and its values. You do this by reading the interviewer’s body language and responding appropriately. You need to show the proper amount of “social intelligence” and awareness to stand out from the other interviewees competing with you for the job.

So there you have it, five aspects of body language and nonverbal communication that will better your odds of succeeding in your next job interview. While having the correct body language might not win you the job, the wrong body language can definitely guarantee you won’t.

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