How to Become a Professional

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With a certificate, diploma, or college degree under your belt, you have opened the door to many career opportunities in your future. In addition to the information and skills you learned in the classroom, there is more to know when it comes to how to become a professional.

Here are some tips on developing a professional manner appreciated by both employers and colleagues:

A Professional Appearance is Key

Many clichés come to mind when you think about how to become a professional, including, "the value of a good first impression" or "dressing for the job you want, not the job you have" or, simply, "dress for success." As is the case with most clichés, there is some truth to them: you can take the first step to becoming a professional by having a polished, conservative, and meticulous appearance.

  • Be well groomed, clean and pressed, head to toe, everyday.
  • If you have a moment's doubt about whether something is appropriate to wear in the workplace, don't wear it.
  • Avoid clothes that are too tight or revealing.
  • Use restraint with cologne and perfume.
  • Hide tattoos.

A Good Character is a Professional Character

To be successful at your job, you always need the skills and knowledge to perform your duties and responsibilities. In addition to intelligence, expertise, and education, employers value the willingness of an employee who goes above and beyond simply completing the assigned tasks. Displaying a strong character and integrity is crucial to your growth and success as you walk the path to become a professional.

  • Be honest.
  • Be reliable.
  • Be positive.
  • Be true to yourself.
  • See your job as an extension of who you are.

Effective Communication is Essential for Professional Success

Intelligent, effective communication in the workplace is the driving force to any successful business. Knowing how to speak and write clearly and concisely and being an active listener are invaluable skills if you want to become a professional.

  • Speak clearly and in a light, friendly manner.
  • Pay attention to others and what goes on around you.
  • Communicate honestly and directly but always with tact and respect.
  • Express your beliefs even if you don’t agree, but remain positive and supportive to the organization.
  • Communicate with care via telephone and email since that is often the first contact others make with you and your company.
  • See the big picture and make connections between people and events.

Represent the Organization

An important thing to know is that whether you are on the job or at the grocery store, your employer considers you a representative of the organization at all times and your behavior reflects on that organization. Conduct yourself at every moment with thought, care and dignity to become a professional that others will want to emulate.

  • Demonstrate a vested interest and commitment to your organization.
  • Clearly and accurately articulate your company's mission.
  • Take pride in your work.

Professional Relationships Require Emotional Intelligence

One of the greatest challenges of any workplace is developing work relationships with co-workers, customers or clients. You may find yourself working with people that have different backgrounds, opinions, viewpoints, politics, religions or work styles than you and that can be difficult. Relationships are bound to rouse some emotion at some point. To become a professional you must handle your emotions with grace and intelligence.

  • It is natural to feel angry with others, even on the job, however it is never appropriate to act out on anger.
  • Take responsibility for your actions.
  • Develop solid working relationships by showing kindness and respect to all.
  • There can be incidents on the job or co-workers that may cause you unhappiness or harm. Figure out how to promptly, calmly, and matter of factly discuss this with the appropriate party, avoiding drama and tattling.
  • Avoid gossip.

Care About Yourself, Care About Your Job

In our country we are a busy group; striving to look good, have fun, enjoy families and career satisfaction, yet in many ways our own health can get lost in the shuffle - and what could be more important? Being healthy means taking care of your body as well as your mind and spirit. The more strong and healthy you are in all of those ways, the better you will be at anything and everything in your life, not just your job. To become a professional is to become a strong and whole person.

  • Eat and sleep well. If you don't know how to do that, there's no better time than the present to learn!
  • Know yourself. Take the time to slow down and reflect on your strengths and weaknesses, triumphs and mistakes, developing a realistic, non-judgmental and non-egotistical view of yourself.
  • Look for the lessons in every experience, positive or negative.
  • Slow down. It is difficult to have a sense of your well-being if you are never still.
  • Exercise for improved overall health, energy and happiness. Enjoy looking good as the by-product, not the goal.
  • Healthy people who know how to take care of themselves are attractive people and that quality gets noticed. If you care about yourself, you will be better able to care about your job and that will impress any employer.