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9 Tips To Be More Professional in The Office

9 Tips To Be More Professional in The Office

Being more professional in the office can help you in many ways. You can gain respect from others, and it can help with being promoted. Read nine of my biggest tips on being more professional at work.

Consider The Dress Code

There’s usually a dress code set for a workplace. This is different for men and women, and can be different for each company. To remain professional 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.

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 we need to work ten or twelve hour days. Adding an extra thirty or sixty minutes to your day will make 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.

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.

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.

Arrive On Time to Meetings

Meetings at work are common. While they can sometimes not be very useful, 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.

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. Whether this is organising 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. If you need to print documents for home, try to do it at home or somewhere else if possible. It looks better if you’re not wasting company time to do your own things, even if it is only short. Sometimes it can’t be helped, which is fine, but try to minimise it.

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 generalisation or perception about some of these things.

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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.

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 send a good impression to 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 good.

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 really necessary, and you don’t need to put anything like that on your signature.

Put Your Mobile Phone On Silent

Our mobile 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.

I hope these tips have helped. If you’re interested in being more professional at work, try a couple of these tips and see what your results are!

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Last Updated on March 25, 2020

How to Set Ambitious Career Goals (With Examples)

How to Set Ambitious Career Goals (With Examples)

Taking your work to the next level means setting and keeping career goals. A career goal is a targeted objective that explains what you want your ultimate profession to be.

Defining career goals is a critical step to achieving success. You need to know where you’re going in order to get there. Knowing what your career goals are isn’t just important for you–it’s important for potential employers too. The relationship between an employer and an employee works best when your goals for the future and their goals align. Saying, “Oh, I don’t know. I’ll do anything,” makes you seem indecisive, and opens you up to taking on ill-fitting tasks that won’t lead you to your dream life.

Career goal templates’ one-size-fits-all approach won’t consider your unique goals and experiences. They won’t help you stand out, and they may not reflect your full potential.

In this article, I’ll help you to define your career goals with SMART goal framework, and will provide you with a list of examples goals for work and career.

How to Define Your Career Goal with SMART

Instead of relying on a generalized framework to explain your vision, use a tried-and-true goal-setting model. SMART is an acronym for “Specific, Measurable, Action-oriented, Realistic with Timelines.”[1] The SMART framework demystifies goals by breaking them into smaller steps.

Helpful hints when setting SMART career goals:

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  • Start with short-term goals first. Work on your short-term goals, and then progress the long-term interests.[2] Short-term goals are those things which take 1-3 years to complete. Long-term goals take 3-5 years to do. As you succeed in your short-term goals, that success should feed into accomplishing your long-term goals.
  • Be specific, but don’t overdo it. You need to define your career goals, but if you make them too specific, then they become unattainable. Instead of saying, “I want to be the next CEO of Apple, where I’ll create a billion-dollar product,” try something like, “My goal is to be the CEO of a successful company.”
  • Get clear on how you’re going to reach your goals. You should be able to explain the actions you’ll take to advance your career. If you can’t explain the steps, then you need to break your goal down into more manageable chunks.
  • Don’t be self-centered. Your work should not only help you advance, but it should also support the goals of your employer. If your goals differ too much, then it might be a sign that the job you’ve taken isn’t a good fit.

If you want to learn more about setting SMART Goals, watch the video below to learn how you can set SMART career goals.

After you’re clear on how to set SMART goals, you can use this framework to tackle other aspects of your work. For instance, you might set SMART goals to improve your performance review, look for a new job, or shift your focus to a different career.

We’ll cover examples of ways to use SMART goals to meet short-term career goals in the next section.

Why You Need an Individual Development Plan

Setting goals is one part of the larger formula for success. You may know what you want to do, but you also have to figure out what skills you have, what you lack, and where your greatest strengths and weaknesses are.

One of the best ways to understand your capabilities is by using the Science Careers Individual Development Plan skills assessment. It’s free, and all you need to do is register an account and take a few assessments.

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These assessments will help you determine if your career goals are realistic. You’ll come away with a better understanding of your unique talents and skill-sets. You may decide to change some of your career goals or alter your timeline based on what you learn.

40 Examples of Goals for Work & Career

All this talk of goal-setting and self-assessment may sound great in theory, but perhaps you need some inspiration to figure out what your goals should be.

For Changing a Job

  1. Attend more networking events and make new contacts.
  2. Achieve a promotion to __________ position.
  3. Get a raise.
  4. Plan and take a vacation this year.
  5. Agree to take on new responsibilities.
  6. Develop meaningful relationships with your coworkers and clients.
  7. Ask for feedback on a regular basis.
  8. Learn how to say, “No,” when you are asked to take on too much.
  9. Delegate tasks that you no longer need to be responsible for.
  10. Strive to be in a leadership role in __ number of years.

For Switching Career Path

  1. Pick up and learn a new skill.
  2. Find a mentor.
  3. Become a volunteer in the field that interests you.
  4. Commit to getting training or going back to school.
  5. Read the most recent books related to your field.
  6. Decide whether you are happy with your work-life balance and make changes if necessary. [3]
  7. Plan what steps you need to take to change careers.[4]
  8. Compile a list of people who could be character references or submit recommendations.
  9. Commit to making __ number of new contacts in the field this year.
  10. Create a financial plan.

For Getting a Promotion

  1. Reduce business expenses by a certain percentage.
  2. Stop micromanaging your team members.
  3. Become a mentor.
  4. Brainstorm ways that you could improve your productivity and efficiency at work
  5. Seek a new training opportunity to address a weakness.[5]
  6. Find a way to organize your work space.[6]
  7. Seek feedback from a boss or trusted coworker every week/ month/ quarter.
  8. Become a better communicator.
  9. Find new ways to be a team player.
  10. Learn how to reduce work hours without compromising productivity.

For Acing a Job Interview

  1. Identify personal boundaries at work and know what you should do to make your day more productive and manageable.
  2. Identify steps to create a professional image for yourself.
  3. Go after the career of your dreams to find work that does not feel like a job.
  4. Look for a place to pursue your interest and apply your knowledge and skills.
  5. Find a new way to collaborate with experts in your field.
  6. Identify opportunities to observe others working in the career you want.
  7. Become more creative and break out of your comfort zone.
  8. Ask to be trained more relevant skills for your work.
  9. Ask for opportunities to explore the field and widen your horizon
  10. Set your eye on a specific award at work and go for it.

Career Goal Setting FAQs

I’m sure you still have some questions about setting your own career goals, so here I’m listing out the most commonly asked questions about career goals.

1. What if I’m not sure what I want my career to be?

If you’re uncertain, be honest about it. Let the employer know as much as you know about what you want to do. Express your willingness to use your strengths to contribute to the company. When you take this approach, back up your claim with some examples.

If you’re not even sure where to begin with your career, check out this guide:

How to Find Your Ideal Career Path Without Wasting Time on Jobs Not Suitable for You

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2. Is it okay to lie about my career goals?

Lying to potential employers is bound to end in disaster. In the interview, a lie can make you look foolish because you won’t know how to answer follow up questions.

Even if you think your career goal may not precisely align with the employer’s expectations for a long-term hire, be open and honest. There’s probably more common ground than they realize, and it’s up to you to bridge any gaps in expectations.

Being honest and explaining these connections shows your employer that you’ve put a lot of thought into this application. You aren’t just telling them what they want to hear.

3. Is it better to have an ambitious goal, or should I play it safe?

You should have a goal that challenges you, but SMART goals are always reasonable. If you put forth a goal that is way beyond your capabilities, you will seem naive. Making your goals too easy shows a lack of motivation.

Employers want new hires who are able to self-reflect and are willing to take on challenges.

4. Can I have several career goals?

It’s best to have one clearly-defined career goal and stick with it. (Of course, you can still have goals in other areas of your life.) Having a single career goal shows that you’re capable of focusing, and it shows that you like to accomplish what you set out to do.

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On the other hand, you might have multiple related career goals. This could mean that you have short-term goals that dovetail into your ultimate long-term career goal. You might also have several smaller goals that feed into a single purpose.

For example, if you want to become a lawyer, you might become a paralegal and attend law school at the same time. If you want to be a school administrator, you might have initial goals of being a classroom teacher and studying education policy. In both cases, these temporary jobs and the extra education help you reach your ultimate goal.

Summary

You’ll have to devote some time to setting career goals, but you’ll be so much more successful with some direction. Remember to:

  • Set SMART goals. SMART goals are Specific, Measurable, Action-oriented, and Realistic with Timelines. When you set goals with these things in mind, you are likely to achieve the outcomes you want.
  • Have short-term and long-term goals. Short-term career goals can be completed in 1-3 years, while long-term goals will take 3-5 years to finish. Your short-term goals should set you up to accomplish your long-term goals.
  • Assess your capabilities by coming up with an Individual Development Plan. Knowing how to set goals won’t help you if you don’t know yourself. Understand what your strengths and weaknesses are by taking some self-assessments.
  • Choose goals that are appropriate to your ultimate aims. Your career goals should be relevant to one another. If they aren’t, then you may need to narrow your focus. Your goals should match the type of job that you want and the quality of life that you want to lead.
  • Be clear about your goals with potential employers. Always be honest with potential employers about what you want to do with your life. If your goals differ from the company’s objectives, find a way bridge the gap between what you want for yourself and what your employer expects.

By doing goal-setting work now, you’ll be able to make conscious choices on your career path. You can always adjust your plan if things change for you, but the key is to give yourself a road map for success.

More Tips About Setting Work Goals

Featured photo credit: Tyler Franta via unsplash.com

Reference

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