How to always be seen as a professional
Acting professionally is possibly one of the greatest job skills a recent college graduate should work on cultivating. Having just come out of school, maintaining a professional appearance in public can be a different experience, one that does not necessarily come naturally. Especially at a small school like Luther, where a majority of the students know each other in some way, it is almost impossible to work on the professionalism you must display in a work environment in order to succeed. Continue reading for some tips on how to increase your professional appearance:
1. Dress the Part
Whether it is an interview, meeting, first day on the job, or a school conference out of town, make sure to always wear business clothes. Cultivating a professional attitude begins with looking professional. No one will take you seriously as a potential employee if you are wearing ragged jeans and an old T-shirt. Click here to learn how to learn more about dressing for success.
2. Honesty is a Virtue
Lying is a sure way to get your professional reputation tarnished. Even small things can backfire- if someone finds out that you fibbed about what you did last weekend, it ruins your credibility and calls into question your character. If you make a mistake, own up to it. If you sat at home last night and watched movies, don't tell your boss you went out for drinks with a client. Simple, but worth the honesty.
3. Don't be Late!
Lateness is often cited as one of employers' biggest problems with workers. Not only does being late affect your co-workers and their ability to do their job, but it also makes you look disorganized and sloppy. Obviously it is impossible to always be on time. Continual tardiness, however, is a quick way to get on your employer's bad side, and maybe miss out on some great career opportunities down the line. Professionalism means being on time and always ready to work.
4. Have Tasteful Humor
In the workplace, sometimes jokes that your friends would think are hilarious turn out to be offensive to at least one of your co-workers. Make sure that your jokes and comments avoid topics such as race, gender, appearance, religion, nationality, or other personal characteristics. Even if you are good friends with the person, that does not meant that someone else will not get offended. Work is not a place to test people's threshold or see what kind of humor your colleagues enjoy. Keep it tasteful and classy- if you offend someone, it becomes hard to escape the stigma of "that person who made fun of someone" and offended people.
5. Be Polite
Manners are an important aspect of professionalism. How you act around others and treat your equals tells your employer a lot about who you are as a person. Holding doors open for people signifies respect, and having good manners shows that you are comfortable with the position you have in life. Acting superior or arguing with a co-worker makes you seem as though you need to pull someone down in order to push yourself up in other people's eyes. Showing respect to those around you and being polite to those you encounter give you not only a good first impression, but increase your likeability and professionalism.
6. Know when to Keep Quiet
This is true throughout life, but is very important when college students are entering the workforce. Nothing can be more damaging to a new employee than if he or she engages in office gossip and drama. Talking about your co-worker, boss, friend, or customer behind their back shows immaturity and insecurity. There will ultimately be workplace drama, but try and stay above it. Don't spread stories at work, keep politics and religion at home, and keep personal problems to a minimum. You are there to work, not to have a gossip hour, and what goes around comes around. When something is told in confidence, one of the worst things you can do for your professional reputation is to spread it around. Whether it is told to you by your boss and relates to work, or told by your co-worker about your best friend, discretion is key. Talking can be fun, but it comes back around.
Those are just a few of the things to remember when entering a new job or professional setting. These tips apply not only for jobs but internships, interviews, or anywhere that you could potentially further your professional career. And if you have an opportunity to further your career, you ultimately have the opportunity to create a setback in your professional development. Be cognizant of where you are and who you are with, and remember these tips!