An Ultimate Guide to Professionalism in Your Workplace.
Professionalism: If you want to get ahead, be taken seriously, and have your boss think of you as an asset to the team, professionally doing things is vital. This article will help you better understand professionalism so you can ensure you’re behaving most professionally throughout your job search and career.
What is Professionalism in the Workplace?
Professionalism has to do with the way a person conducts himself or herself in the workplace. An individual who shows consideration and respect for others demonstrates a commitment to professionalism. Likewise, a person who keeps his or her word demonstrates loyalty and exceeds expectations is demonstrating professionalism.
How can you show your professionalism? Follow these dos and don’ts:
1. Dress Appropriately
Whether you have to dress up for work or you can wear more casual clothes, your appearance should always be neat and clean. A wrinkled suit looks no better than a ripped pair of jeans does.
Choose the type of clothing your employer requires. If there isn’t a dress code, pick attire that is the norm for your place of employment.
Save flip-flops, shorts, and tank tops for the weekends, along with clothes that are better suited for a night out at a club.
2. Make It a Priority to Be on Time
When you arrive late for work or meetings, it gives your boss and co-workers the impression you don’t care about your job and, if it affects them, it’s like saying you don’t value their time. Pay attention to the clock. Set alarms if you have to. Show up at least a few minutes before you are supposed to start work and return from your breaks on time.
3. Don’t Be a Grump
Leave your bad mood at the door when you come to work. We all have days when we aren’t feeling our best. Remember not to take it out on your boss, your co-workers, and especially your customers. If work is the thing that is causing your bad mood, it may be time to think about quitting your job.
If that isn’t a good option for you right now, find a way to make the best of the situation until it is.
4. Offer Assistance to Your Colleagues
A true professional is willing to help their co-workers when they are overburdened or facing a challenge at work. They aren’t afraid to share knowledge, opinions, or simply an extra pair of hands. One person’s success reflects well on everyone in their workplace.
It is important not to be too pushy, however. If your colleague rejects your offer, don’t push it. They may prefer to work alone.
5. Don’t Gossip
While you may be tempted to tell your cubicle neighbors what you heard about Suzy or Sam down in accounting, gossiping makes you look like a middle school student. If you know something you simply must share, tell someone who has nothing to do with your workplace, like your sister, mother, or best friend.
6. Watch Your Mouth
Swearing, cursing, or cussing—whatever you call it—has no place in most workplaces. Unless you know it is okay in yours, refrain from using foul language, particularly if those who you might offend are present. Here’s a good rule of thumb to follow: If you wouldn’t say it to your grandmother, don’t say it at work.
7. Try to Stay Positive
Negativity is contagious. If you complain incessantly about your workplace, it will bring others down. Your boss certainly will not appreciate a drop in morale among their employees.
That does not mean you shouldn’t speak up about things you think are wrong. If you see something that should be fixed, give your boss feedback along with a plan for how to make improvements. If you are just complaining for no reason, stop.
8. Always Fight Fair
You will inevitably have occasional disagreements with your co-workers or even your boss. You may think that something should be done one way while someone else will believe another way is better.
Don’t let yourself get angry. It doesn’t matter how upset you are or how strongly you believe you are right, screaming in the workplace isn’t allowed, nor is name-calling or door slamming. Calmly explain your opinion and be ready to walk away if you cannot sway the other person or if they begin to lose control.
Of course, you should always avoid physical contact.
9. Don’t Hide From Your Mistakes
As hard as it may be to do, own your mistakes and then do your best to correct them. Make sure you don’t make the same one twice. Never blame others for your errors, even if they deserve it. Instead, set an example so that those who share responsibility for the mistake can step forward and admit their part.
10. Don’t Air Your Dirty Laundry
While confiding in a close friend at work is usually okay, sharing too much information with the entire office is not. Be judicious about whom you talk to, particularly when it comes to discussing problems you are having with your spouse or other family members. If you do decide to share something personal with your co-workers, don’t do it where customers and clients might overhear you.
11. Don’t Lie
Dishonesty always makes you look bad, whether it’s lying on your resume or calling in sick when you aren’t. A true professional is always upfront. If you are unqualified for a job, you have two choices.
Don’t apply for it at all or submit an application that reflects your real skills. If you choose the second option, explain how your other strengths compensate for the missing requirement. As for lying about being sick, if you need a day off, take a personal or vacation day.
Why is Professionalism Important?
Mastering professionalism in the workplace is critical for anyone hoping to sustain a long and successful career. Acting, dressing, and communicating professionally helps your employer, coworkers, and clients view you as a trustworthy and hardworking individual.
Not acting professionally can damage your reputation and cause people to view you as sloppy and unprepared—so start your career on the right foot.
Being a professional isn’t hard, but it can take time to cultivate the wisdom and foresight to master, especially when you’ve never been exposed to a formal workplace environment.
Going to college can help prepare you for the professional world, as well as hone other vital workplace skills. But professionalism isn’t the only soft skill you’ll need to succeed in your career. One of the most important skills of all is the ability to think critically.
Showing Professionalism in Email
Once you’ve got the basic structure of an email down pat, and you know what mistakes to avoid, it’s time to focus on making your drafts stand out from the myriad emails most people get every day. Here are four strategies to take yours to the next level:
1. Think Positive
Sending an email that is remotely negative, or even neutral, can put you in a tricky place. And as with any written communication, there may be room for misinterpretation.
“In the absence of other information, our interpretation often defaults to the negative,” explains Dan Post Senning, an etiquette expert at the Emily Post Institute. “When you’re talking about negative communication, you’re [missing] the information that is the tone of voice, the twinkle in your eye, the good humor that you intend something with, or even the genuine care or concern with which you’re offering critique. So be careful. When something reads as negative to you, it probably comes across as even more negative to someone else.”
2. Personalize Each Interaction
You wouldn’t want to get an email that reads, “Dear [client],” or which references your work in public relations when you’re actually in sales because it would immediately show that the sender is either mass emailing you, or they didn’t do the proper research and find the right contact. Similarly, you’ll want to make sure that every email you send is crafted specifically for the recipient, and that you’re sending it to the right person.
So even though it may be tempting to use templates, it’s important to personalize it and keep in mind the communication style of the recipient before hitting send. To accomplish this, a quick Google search or a peek at the recipient’s LinkedIn or Twitter feed can do wonders. Before sending, try putting yourself in the recipient’s shoes for a gut-check on tone and content.
3. Follow Up — in Good Time
If you’re sending an email, you’re likely looking for a timely response. But with the large amounts of emails most people sort through each day, things can end up getting lost. As a general rule, a follow-up message should never come less than twenty-four hours after sending the initial email.
In other words: Don’t be the person who sends a follow-up request two hours after sending it. In extreme cases, that kind of behavior can even get you blocked. “When you’re taking more time and caring about the person on the other side of the email, you’re immediately going to see a much higher response rate. I had to learn that the hard way,” says Cole Schafer, founder, and copy chief of Honey Copy.
Showing Professionalism on Social Media
Like it or not, social media is here to stay. It also happens to be the best place to build your brand. It is also the place where recruiters and HR professionals are looking for red flags — risqué photos, bad language, signs of drug use — that would show them you’d be a less than ideal man or woman to have in their offices.
As you think about professionalism on social media, take note of these components of your profiles that will catch the attention of your boss or future employer,
According to career expert Halie Crawford, recruiters and hiring managers are concentrating their efforts on two sections of your Facebook page your “about me” section, and your photo albums.
About Me: “They will want to see how you describe yourself and if it matches up [with] how you have described yourself in your cover letter and resume,” Crawford says. Any discrepancies could cost you points pre-interview. What’s more, Crawford says, “they will also be looking for proper spelling and grammar” in this section, to see how seriously you take those skills.
Photos: When it comes to your photos albums, “a hiring manager will be checking not only your photos but also your descriptions,” Crawford warns. “A hiring manager wants to see if you professionally represent yourself.” To come off in the most positive pre-meeting light, “you will want to avoid using profanity, sexual or drug references,” Crawford says.
Who You’re Following: “Recruiters like to see if you have any mutual connections and if you are connected with others in your industry via Twitter,” Crawford explains. Following others in your industry is a smart thing to do no matter what — watching their feeds can give you a scoop on a new job opening, company announcements, the latest tech, and much more.
Tweets: “Recruiters will be checking to see if you share useful information, if you share information relevant to your trade or if you just use tweets to fight with others,” Crawford says.
If you’re applying for a job, take a look at your tweeting history and consider deleting anything that won’t show your best — and most thoughtful — self to a potential employer.
Followers: Recruiters will check out the kind of followers you attract on Instagram, Crawford says. Plus, they’ll want to see “how friendly and social you seem to be with your followers,” she says.
What you say to them and what you say back, she explains, “can also give them insight [into] your relationships and if you would be a good cultural fit for the company.”
Pictures: You probably figured this, right? But recruiters are looking to see more than your photography skills (or lack thereof). “They will want to see how you represent yourself,” Crawford says. For example, “if you are at a party, do you represent yourself in a dignified way?” Crawford asks, or, “do you post things that others would consider inappropriate?”
Posts: No one’s going to hire someone whose resume says they’re a “contentious worker.” (It’s conscientious, folks. Yeah, it’s a toughie).Especially on LinkedIn, common writing mistakes can damage your professional image.
But even on the more social networks, you can demonstrate that you’re a conscientious worker by taking time to proofread. Yes, even for cat videos. Getting your grammar right can be the fine line between “goofy cat lover” and “weirdo who doesn’t pay attention to human conventions.”
Profile: If your LinkedIn says “three years in finance” but your Facebook feed’s got a picture of you in a Starbucks uniform from last year, that’s a pretty big red flag.
Lying about your experience or qualifications is never a good idea, especially with the Internet there to give evidence one way or another. Tell the truth on your resume, and make sure your networks reflect that truth, too.
Developing your professionalism is essential for launching and advancing a successful career. While your industry and workplace environment has a significant impact on which aspects of professionalism are most important, adopting the characteristics and habits listed above can help ensure you’re prepared no matter where you work.
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