Career Center

Professionalism

Photo of an intern in historical preservation.
Professionalism in the Workplace


A vital part of being a successful employee is learning the type of behavior that is expected at your workplace. While having appropriate skills and knowledge is important, as critical is your ability to fit in with the environment or culture of the office. Employers value the new ideas and energy that young employees bring, but are seeking workers who are mature, dependable, and committed as well. Below are a few qualities of the ideal "professional" employee.

Enthusiasm: You demonstrate enthusiasm by looking for ways to contribute to the overall goal of the office through your tasks, putting thought, energy, and interest into your work.

Punctuality/dependability: You arrive punctually every day, stay on task, and complete work as promised and on time.

Ethics: You behave with integrity at all times, and follow ethical guidelines given by your employer. As a part of this, you avoid taking office supplies, making personal copies, sending faxes, etc. without paying for them.

Courtesy: You show respect to co-workers, supervisors, and clients or customers.

Appropriate grooming: You avoid allowing your appearance to distract from your work quality. You wear clothes that fit in with the environment, are attentive to personal hygiene and avoid scents.

Initiative: You suggest ways to improve the process by making it more efficient or effective, and offer ways that you can use your skills to support the mission of the office.

Time management: You work at a steady pace, completing your work in a timely manner.

Asking for guidance: You ask questions as needed rather than later having to undo your previous efforts, and you find the level of questioning vs. independence your supervisor prefers.

Leaving personal matters at home
: You avoid spending work time doing personal business, including texting, taking personal phone calls, answering personal email messages, or doing personal web searches. You keep your cell phone off or on silent to avoid being disruptive, and never look at it during meetings with others.

Breaks: You limit your breaks to those approved by your employer.

Meetings: You learn what is expected of you when attending meetings, and are prepared.

Social media: You avoid criticizing a current or former employer through social media sites and show good judgment in your photographs and posts.