We’ve all heard the saying to be successful you need to be professional. But what does being professional actually mean?
Well, to some it might mean dressing smartly for a job, while other people might take it to mean having degrees and certifications or simply maintaining a professional attitude at work by being reliable, respectful and competent.
Regardless of how you interpret it, professionalism is important if you want to be a success in life, as much as in your career.
But how does one go about being professional and engaging in professionalism? Professionalism encompasses a number of common attributes; these are but a few of them.
Follow the dress code
Unless you work in a bank or have some high-flying corporate job, you don’t necessarily have to wear a business suit to be professional. Simply follow the dress code that comes with the job. However, whatever you do, never ever, under any circumstance, under estimate the importance of personal hygiene. Showing up sloppily dressed, with unkempt hair isn’t acceptable.
In other words, don’t be late. If your job starts at 9a.m., don’t rock up at five minutes past! Ideally aim to be at work 15 minutes before you’re due to start. And don’t take advantage of lunch breaks either. An hour means an hour.
Own up to your own mistakes
At the end of the day, we’re all human. And that means we make mistakes. But a true professional believes in accountability, and will take ownership of their successes and failures. Be honest and have integrity.
Get the job done
And that means staying focused. Your productivity will suffer if you get side tracked. Write a “to do list” for the day and keep focused on your responsibilities. And avoid unnecessary distractions, like logging on to Facebook and engaging in office gossip. Leave browsing the Internet and attending to personal matters for your lunch break.
Be polite and respectful
Manners go a long way. Being respectful and polite will make a significant impact on everyone you come into contact with, whatever their position and role. Have respect for others if you want that respect to be returned. These attributes will provide you with longer lasting working relationships.
Okay, so you already have the knowledge and skills to help you do your job well. Now all you need to do is not let them become out dated. Knowledge comes with learning, and skill comes with experience. It’s important to keep developing and improving. By keeping your skills up-to-date you’ll continue to deliver good work. And don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it, either.
And be open to learn from others
No matter how good you are at what you do, you don’t know everything. So don’t behave as though you do. Demonstrate a willingness to learn from others will take you far.
Quotes from professionals about professionalism
“If you think it’s expensive to hire a professional, wait until you hire an amateur.” – Red Adair
“I take work very seriously and telling the truth in my job and professionalism.” – Brittany Murphy
“I value professionals and professionalism. But it never matches to what I call intelligence and intellect.” – Unknown
“If your profession is something you love, then you’ll never work a day in your life.” – Anonymous
“Professional is not a label you give yourself, it’s a description you hope others will apply to you.” – David Maister
“Being a professional is doing the things you love to do, on the days you don’t feel like doing them.” – Julius Irving
This article was originally written for the Chung Wah Magazine