Impressions matter, and now science is proving that how you act outside of work is a reflection of how you might behave in the office.

We both judge others and are judged constantly across all realms of life. From the irritated glance you throw the rude driver who cut you off on your commute to the sweeping sense of peace that comes over you when you see a parent coo lovingly at their baby giggling in the stroller, we all react to the world around us one way or another. 

When we observe these moments — these small flashes of personality — it's natural to want to ascribe larger meaning to them. That driver who cut you off? Clearly an incompetent jerk — how does he even have a job? The attentive and loving parent, however, I'll trust with my entire net worth because a person so loving can only be capable of great things. 

This type of inference is so common that even job interviewers use it too. For example, many interviewers will be watching you on the sly to see if you're dismissive of the receptionist or rude to someone in the office. It's why our career expert, Amanda Augustine, advises

“Assume your interview starts the moment you wake up and treat everyone you meet — from your fellow commuters to the receptionist at the building — as though they were part of the interview process.”

These types of rationalizations about others' behavior were recently supported with a shot of spicy science, as well. A new study successfully demonstrated that our personal traits can be used to predict our behavior at work.

The study showed that across multiple different types of white-collar positions including police officers, financial advisors, chief executive officers, chief financial officers, those who use infidelity websites, like Ashley Madison, are significantly more likely to also engage in professional misconduct. Essentially, behavior in the workplace mirrors how one behaves behind closed doors. 

How you treat people matters, and the impression you give others matters too. If a hiring manager receives even the slightest signal that you behave with impropriety in your personal life, they'll extend that to your hypothetical job performance too. And in a world where our every move is categorized and searchable online, it's never been more important to protect and defend your stellar status. 

Check to make sure your online personal brand is highlighting — not hurting — your value by downloading our free checklist today.

How to put your best foot forward as a job seeker 

No one's perfect. Everyone makes mistakes, and unlike a potential hiring manager, we aren't here to judge if you have a few skeletons in your closet you'd rather your future employer not know about. We've compiled some of our favorite tips, tricks, and resources to help protect (and even recover) your reputation in the event you might be in need.

Clean up your online profiles… 

Before you send out a single job application, go through all of your social media profiles and give them a once-over to ensure the content reflects the brand you hope to put forward. Read more about how to perform a social media profile check here

...and don't make any new social media mistakes, either! 

Make sure your privacy settings are properly managed so prospective co-workers can't catch a glimpse of the wild party weekend you just had. Read all five social media mistakes to avoid here. 

Think carefully about which social accounts to include on your resume 

Do you include Facebook? LinkedIn? Twitter? It's hard to know which social media accounts are the right ones to include on one of the most important documents of your professional life. Our guide will walk you through how to select which social media accounts to include on your resume

The best apology is changed behavior

While science is starting to support the idea that bad behavior in one's personal life equals bad behavior in one's professional life, we believe that the best apology is changed behavior. Which is to say, a mistake or one crazy night won't define your career for the rest of your life, as long as you evolve and change your behavior too. We're here to help make sure that your professional documents — your resume, LinkedIn, and cover letter — show the person that you truly are, not the person one past mistake says you are. 

Are you sure your resume accurately reflects the person you are? Have TopResume give you free, objective resume feedback today!

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