Mom always told you not to slouch, and she was right. But standing up straight isn’t the only way to use body language to your advantage — especially when you’re looking for a job. In a Fast company post titled “8 Body Language Tips for Jobseekers,” expert Carol Goman shares some terrific advice on how to present yourself in a professional setting.
She begins with the most obvious: “Fix your posture.” But her rationale may surprise you, as there’s actually a scientific basis for “holding your body in expansive, ‘high-power’ poses.” Turns out it stimulates the flow of the power hormone testosterone and suppresses the stress hormone cortisol, meaning you’ll look and feel more powerful.
You should also “open up” when sitting, Goman says, as you appear small and closed off when you cross your arms and legs. And while you’re parked at your desk, try tip No. 3: “Squeeze a ball in your left hand.” It’s something many athletes do, since automatic motor skills — the type you want to rely on during a big game — are associated with the left hemisphere of the brain.
Speaking of the brain, you can enhance cognitive control by walking backwards every now and then. That’s according to researchers at Radboud University in the Netherlands. As Goman reports, the scientists found that people faced with stressful situations felt more confident and able to cope when they took a step back.
The next two have to do with how you interact with others. Goman advocates “a little touch” — i.e. handshakes and quick touches to the arm or shoulder — and genuine smiles. The former make you seem friendly, while the latter will mark you as someone who’s trustworthy and cooperative.
Goman’s final two tips are all about communication. She encourages jobseekers to “get those hands moving,” as gesturing when you speak has been shown to promote clearer thoughts, and “keep it down,” or make a conscious effort to prevent your sentences from ending on a higher pitch. Goman goes as far as to recommend putting your lips together and making an “um hum, um hum, um hum” sound before a big interview.