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How to Be More Professional at Work and Make a Good Impression

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How to Be More Professional at Work and Make a Good Impression

Any job you do, even those where you are able to work from a home office, requires being professional, whether it’s through how you dress, how you speak, or how you act. The best way to work is by paying attention to your level of professionalism. It will earn you a great deal of positive interactions with your boss and coworkers. 

Being more professional day to day in the office can help you in many ways. You can gain respect from others, and it can help with being promoted. Here are nine tips you can apply to help you be more professional in the office.

1. Consider the Dress Code

There’s usually a dress code set for a workplace. This is different for men and women, and it can be different for each company. To remain a professional person in the office, I would suggest dressing above the dress code. Let me explain what I mean by this.

If a company has a dress code that states employees must at least wear pants and a collared shirt in the office, then I would suggest wearing suit pants and a dress shirt. It meets the criteria, but it’s a little more professional.

You could add to this by even wearing a suit jacket. If the standard is suit pants and a dress shirt, add a tie or a suit jacket. This will make you stand out in a good way, as someone who is professional and respects the company they work for.

If you are a woman and the company you work for suggest a dress or skirt, you can always discuss this with your boss if you prefer to wear dress pants. Most companies will be flexible with this, so don’t be afraid to ask!

2. Work More Than the Minimum Hours

Most offices usually have a minimum working time period. This is the time that you should arrive to work by, and leave work after, at the end of the day. One way to improve your professionalism is to work longer than those hours.

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The ability to do this will depend on your commitments outside of work. I’m not suggesting you need to work ten or twelve hour days. Even adding an extra ten or twenty minutes to your day will help others perceive you as more professional and passionate about your job, which is a good thing.

Arriving before the required start time and leaving after the required end time will make it seem like you’re not watching the clock and are actually trying to improve at your job. When you do arrive early or leave late, don’t spend a lot of time sitting idly. Stay productive and focus on important tasks to create an even better impression.

If you’re still not convinced, this article talks about why it makes sense to arrive early when you have the opportunity to do so: 6 Reasons Why it Makes Sense to Arrive Early.

3. Maintain a Professional Attitude

Being professional at work is not just about arriving on time and dressing appropriately. It’s also about how you act. The things you say and actions you take can define how professional you seem at the office. You can act however you like outside the office, but to remain professional at work, it’s a good idea to keep a professional attitude[1].

This means what you think about and what you say should be considerate of your work environment. Try to refrain from offensive jokes and stories about drinking and partying on the weekend. Keep your focus on work while you’re there, and you’ll be perceived as being more professional.

Also, do your best to avoid talking down to your coworkers. If you feel they could improve or be more professional, try to suggest this in a respectful way or even through a professionally written email.

4. Arrive on Time to Meetings

Meetings at work are common. While they are often boring or seem to be useless, they still exist and can be helpful for team discussions. Meetings are scheduled for a certain time, and, depending on the subject, they can be quite important. Nobody likes to have their time wasted, and one of the biggest time wasters is not being able to start a meeting because people haven’t arrived yet.

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When you go to meetings, make an effort to arrive by the scheduled start time. This is to show respect to people you’re meeting with and not to waste time. Take into account any travel time you need, and any time you need to set up in the meeting, such as with phone conferences.

To go the extra mile, arrive four or five minutes early[2]. It will show your enthusiasm and your level of respect for your coworkers and your boss. It will also give you a moment to get yourself set up for the meeting without disturbing others.

This also applies to online meetings. If an online call is set for 3:00, enter the platform at 2:55. When the boss sees you’re early to arrive, you’ll make a great impression.

5. Separate Personal Time and Work Time

We’ve all got things happening outside of work. It’s part of keeping a healthy work/life balance. However, we should try to limit the impact that they have on our workplace in order to be professional.

Whether this is organizing an event, speaking to friends, or dealing with problems, it’s good to try and keep it separate from your work. It’s not something that other people need to see or hear you doing.

Step away from your desk if you need to make or receive a personal call. Try to limit your personal Internet browsing to lunch times, or leave it until you get home if you can. Try not to get on social media during the day if possible. If you need to print documents for personal use, try to do it at home or somewhere else if possible.

It is more respectful if you’re not wasting company time to do your own things, even if it is only for a short time. Your work space is for work.

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6. Consider Your Personal Grooming

A good way to improve your professionalism at work is to be considerate of your personal grooming and how it’s perceived at the office. Regardless of your feelings and thoughts towards grooming, other people may not feel the same way, and there is a generalization or perception about some of these things.

Men should aim to be clean shaven or have a maintained beard. Messy stubble or an untrimmed beard can look unprofessional and lazy. Keeping short hair is a good suggestion, as long hair can also look lazy to other people. For women, some basic make-up and neat hair is usually ok.

More and more workplaces are relaxing standards on things such as hair length, tattoos, etc., but this doesn’t mean you should let your personal grooming go completely. Show your personal style, but do it in a way that recognizes that you know how to be professional at the office.

7. Have a Professional Phone Greeting

How you answer your phone says a lot about your attitude to work. Your greeting is the first thing that people hear when they call you, and you want to make a good impression on them. There are better ways to answer your phone than “Yeah?” or “Hello.”

Try adding your name in there, as well as a greeting. Something like “Hello, Rob speaking” or “Good afternoon, this is Sally” is appropriate, professional, and not too long.

Your outgoing phone greeting should also send a good image. When you call someone, they will greet you, and you should have some kind of greeting back to start the conversation. Starting with a “Hello” and adding a reason for the call is a good place to start.

8. Use an Appropriate Email Signature

We all use email as part of our jobs. It’s an effective form of communication if used correctly. At the bottom of any email you send is your email signature. Setting one up that is effective and professional is a good suggestion.

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You should have your name, position, company, and contact details, such as email and phone numbers. This is quite common and standard for a signature.

There are other things you might see on signatures that don’t really belong there, and you shouldn’t use them either. Memorable or funny quotes, images, links to other sites, or advice aren’t necessary, and you don’t need to put anything like that on your signature.

9. Put Your Mobile Phone on Silent

Our phones are with us for most of the day, either in our pockets or on our desk. A good way to be seen as more professional is to have your phone on silent or vibrate mode at work.

You might have what you think is the greatest ringtone in the world, but others may disagree. Ringtones, especially loud ones, can be distracting and even annoying to others. Keeping it on silent or vibrate can make you look more considerate and professional at the office.

If the phone is next to you or in your pocket, turning off the ringtone will still mean you know when the phone is ringing. You can see the screen light up or hear the vibration on the desk. Having a ringtone go off in the office is just another distraction people don’t really need.

Final Thoughts

Paying attention to how professional you are at the office can go a long way in improving the level of respect your coworkers and boss have for you. Doing good work is a great start, and professionalism is the icing on the cake. Be conscientious and considerate; you’ll be amazed how far it gets you.

More on How to Be Professional

Featured photo credit: Hunters Race via unsplash.com

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Reference

[1] Career Trend: Displaying a Professional Attitude
[2] The Business Journals: 10 advantages to arriving early to meetings

More by this author

Ben Brumm

Ben is a business analyst and software developer. He shares career advice on Lifehack.

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Last Updated on August 25, 2021

Why Personal Branding Is Important to Your Career

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Why Personal Branding Is Important to Your Career

As a recruiter, I have met and interviewed hundreds of candidates who have no idea who they are.

Without a personal brand, candidates struggle to answer the question: “tell me about yourself—who are you?” They have no idea about who they are, what their strengths are, and how they can add value to the company. They present their CV’s believing that their CV is the key to their career success. In some ways, your CV still has its use. However, in today’s job market, you need more than a CV to stand out in a crowd.

According to Celinne Da Costa:[1]

“Personal brand is essentially your golden ticket to networking with the right people, getting hired for a dream job, or building an influential business.” She believes that “a strong personal brand allows you to stand out in an oversaturated marketplace by exposing desired audiences to your vision, skillset, and personality in a way that is strategically aligned with your career goals.”

A personal brand opens up your world to so many more career opportunities that you would never have been exposed to with just your CV.

What Is Your Personal Brand?

“Personal branding is how you distinctively market your uniqueness.” —Bernard Kelvin Clive

Today, the job market is very competitive and tough. Having a great CV will only let you go so far because everyone has a CV, but no one else has your distinct personal brand! It is your personal brand that differentiates you from everyone else and that is what people buy—you.

Your personal brand is your mark on the world. It is how people you interact with and the world see you. It is your legacy—it is more important than a business brand because your personal brand lasts forever.

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I have coached people who have very successful careers, and they come to me because they have suddenly found that they are not getting the opportunities or having the conversations that would them to their next role. They are having what I call a “career meltdown,” all because they have no personal brand.

A personal brand helps you become conscious of your differences and your uniqueness. It allows you to position yourself in a way that makes you stand out from the pack, especially among other potential job applicants.

Don’t get me wrong, having a great CV and a great LinkedIn profile is important. However, there are a few steps that you have to take to have a CV and LinkedIn profile that is aligned to who you are, the value you offer to the market, and the personal guarantee that you deliver results.

Building your personal brand is about strategically, creatively, and professionally presenting what makes you, you. Knowing who you are and the value you bring to the table enables you to be more informed, agile, and adaptable to the changing dynamic world of work. This is how you can avoid having a series of career meltdowns.

Your Personal Brand Is Essential for Your Career Success

In her article, Why Personal Branding Is More Important Than Ever, Caroline Castrillon outlines key reasons why a personal brand is essential for career success.

According to Castrillon,[2]

“One reason is that it is more popular for recruiters to use social media during the interview process. According to a 2018 CareerBuilder survey, 70% of employers use social media to screen candidates during the hiring process, and 43% of employers use social media to check on current employees.”

The first thing I do as a recruiter when I want to check out a candidate or coaching client is to look them up on LinkedIn or other social media platforms, such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Your digital footprint is the window that highlights to the world who you are. When you have no control over how you want to be seen, you are making a big mistake because you are leaving it up to someone else to make a judgment for you as to who you are.

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As Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, once said, “Your brand is what people say about you when you are not in the room.”

In her book, Becoming, Michelle Obama writes about the importance of having a personal brand and her journey to defining her personal brand. She wrote that:

“if you don’t get out there and define yourself, you’ll be quickly and inaccurately defined by others.”

When you have a personal brand, you are in control. You know exactly what people will say about you when you leave the room.

The magic of a personal brand is that gives you control over how you want to be seen in the world. Your confidence and self-belief enable you to leverage opportunities and make informed decisions about your career and your future. You no longer experience the frustrations of a career meltdown or being at a crossroads not knowing what to do next with your career or your life. With a personal brand, you have focus, clarity, and a strategy to move forward toward future success.

Creating your personal brand does not happen overnight. It takes a lot of work and self-reflection. You will be expected to step outside of your comfort zone not once, but many times.

The good news is that the more time you spend outside of your comfort zone, the more you will like being there. Being outside of your comfort zone is where you can test the viability of and fine-tune your personal brand.

5 Key Steps to Creating Your Personal Brand

These five steps will help you create a personal brand that will deliver you the results you desire with your career and in life.

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1. Set Your Personal Goals

What is it that you want to do in the next five years? What will your future self be doing in the next five to ten years? What is important to you? If you can answer these questions, then you are on the right path. If not, then you have to start thinking about them.

2. Create Your Unique Value Proposition

Create your unique value proposition by asking yourself these four questions:

  1. What are your personality features? What benefit do you offer people?
  2. Who are you and why do people enjoy working with you?
  3. What do you do and what do people want you to do for them? How do you solve their problems?
  4. What makes you different from others like you?

The answers to these questions will give you the information you need to create your professional story, which is the key step to creating your personal brand.

3. Write Your Professional Story

Knowing who you are, what you want, and the unique value you offer is essential to you creating your professional story. People remember stories. Your personal story incorporates your value proposition and tells people who you are and what makes you unique. This is what people will remember about you.

4. Determine Which Platforms Will Support Your Personal Brand

Decide which social media accounts and online platforms will best represent your brand and allow you to share your voice. In a professional capacity, having a LinkedIn profile and a CV that reflects your brand is key to your positioning in relation to role opportunities. People will be connecting with you because they will like the story you are telling.

5. Become Recognized for Sharing Your Knowledge and Expertise

A great way for you to promote yourself is by sharing knowledge and helping others. This is where you prove you know your stuff and you gain exposure for doing so. You can do this through social media, writing, commenting, video, joining professional groups, networking, etc. Find your own style and uniqueness and use it to attract clients, the opportunities, or the jobs you desire.

The importance of having a personal brand is not going to go away. In fact, it is the only way where you can stand out and be unique in a complex changing world of work. If you don’t have a personal brand, someone will do it for you. If you let this happen, you have no control and you may not like the story they create.

Standing out from others takes time and investment. Most people cannot make the change by themselves, and this is where engaging a personal brand coach is a viable option to consider.

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As a personal brand coach, working with my clients to create their personal brand is my passion. I love the fact that we can work together to create a personal story that defines exactly what people will say when you leave the room.

Other People’s Stories

Listening to other people’s stories is a great way to learn. In his article, 7 TED Talks About Personal Branding, Rafael Dos Santos presents the best Ted Talks where speakers share their stories about the “why,” “what,” and “how” of personal branding.((GuidedPR: 7 TED Talks About Personal Branding))

Take some time out to listen to these speakers sharing their stories and thoughts about personal branding. You will definitely learn so much about how you can start your journey of defining yourself and taking control of your professional and personal life.

Your personal brand, without a doubt, is your secret weapon to your career success. As Michelle Obama said,

“your story is what you have, what you will always have. It is something to own.”

So, go own your story. Go on the journey to create your personal brand that defines who you are, highlights your uniqueness, and the value you offer to the world.

Featured photo credit: Austin Distel via unsplash.com

Reference

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