What can this year’s graduating students do to give themselves a chance of a successful transition to professional life? A heads-up about the common business attitudes and behaviors expected in the workplace would be a start.
Here are 30 tips on being professional, whether as an intern, on a work placement or first graduate job…
1. Be Punctual
Set the alarm clock on your mobile phone. “I overslept” won’t cut it. Turn up for meetings on time. Colleagues will judge you on it.
2. Know the Dress Code
Are you wearing the right clothing that fits with the culture of the company?
3. Learn Business Etiquette
Learn basic manners, what to call people, acceptable behaviors for making phone calls, emails and participating at meetings.
4. Show Confidence and Energy
An employer will determine your confidence and energy levels within 30 seconds of meeting you. Shake hands firmly, make eye contact, stand up straight; be heard and match your tone to the situation. Confident does not mean cocky!
5. Be Friendly and Sociable
Behavior breeds behavior. Don’t leave the best of you at home. Bring it to work.
6. Be Positive and Enthusiastic
Show a ‘can-do’ attitude. Think again before saying “I don’t know” or “That’s not in my job description.”
7. Show Pride
Show pride in your work and company. Talk things up.
8. Show Serious Intent
“There is no time for divas, drama, victim statements or whining” says Mark Babbitt, CEO of YouTern.com. Don’t try and be the office comedian until you’ve proved yourself.
9. Take Personal Responsibility
Own your job and reflect the values of the company in the way you behave. Stand up for what you believe in and say it skillfully. Make decisions. Don’t abdicate.
10. Take the Lead
You don’t need to ask – leaders do the right things and inspire others. Leaders help shape the culture and know when to follow.
11. Show Genuine Commitment and Dedication
Meet commitments to standards set by the employer. Keep your promises and go the extra mile when needed. Don’t let others or yourself down.
12. Be Accountable
Meet or exceed the expectations of your boss or customers. Do what you say you are going to do, on time to the required quality, stand up and be counted for your actions.
13. Show Personal Integrity
Deliver on promises. Be consistent in what you say and call people back. Also, ensure your intent, words and actions are aligned.
14. Be Open, Honest, and Transparent
In your dealings with people inside and outside the business, show respect by treating colleagues, customers, suppliers and partners as you would like them to treat you.
15. Be Reliable and Trustworthy
Don’t cut corners and keep confidence.
16. Get on the Front Foot
Stay off Facebook when there is nothing to do. Instead, find something that needs doing.
17. Show Smart Effort with Impact
It’s less about what effort you put in and more about the results you achieve and the attitude you show. Your performance will be judged on it.
18. Get Your Hands Dirty
Showing up isn’t enough. Get on with solving a problem, making a customer happy and help your colleagues.
19. Be Accurate and Thorough
Be consistent. Show concern for quality and attention to detail.
20. Offer a Solution
We all have an imagination. Apply yours to problems facing the business.
21. Be Curious
Show you want to learn by asking great questions. Show “Relentless dissatisfaction with the status quo” –Richard Pascale
22. Commit to Personal and Professional Development
Join a professional association or group and put yourself forward for projects, roles and opportunities. Take a personal risk occasionally.
23. Develop Greater Resilience
Accept tough love. Take failure and difficult feedback on the chin and bounce back. No-one likes a sulk. Learn from experience, be humble and courageous in the face of setbacks.
24. Be Flexible
To changing circumstances, information and the needs of the customer; be prepared to ‘give and take’.
25. Manage Your Career
Take control of your destiny. Make decisions based on how you want to feel in your life. align it with what the business also needs and wants.
26. Communicate Well
Be articulate, coherent and concise. Listen to understand and not to refute. Muddled communication leads to muddled thought. Don’t use text-speak. Remember your grammar and use the spell-checker. Be tech-savvy.
27. Develop Your Personal Brand
Be known as professional at both what you do and how you do it. Develop a positive reputation. Also, be strategic about your identity and public image. Don’t bitch about people, the job or the company behind backs or on Facebook. What do you want to be known for?
28. Network Online and in Person
Network within the company. Network with customers, suppliers, and industry players to help you learn the ropes and settle in. Build your own confidence, the confidence of others in you and the company you represent.
29. Be a Team Player
Move away from ‘I’ and start thinking about ‘We’ and ‘The customer.’ Pitch in when there’s a crisis. Make your unique contribution.
30. Embrace Diversity
Consciously manage your relationships with people who have different personalities, preferred work styles, values; age, gender, ethnicity and sexual orientation.
So… time to get started!
What does “professional” mean to you? How have you developed your professional skills? Perhaps most important: what do you still need to learn?
For this post, YouTern thanks our friends at Learning to Leap!
About the Author: David Shindler is the author of “Learning to Leap, a Guide to Being More Employable”. An experienced coach and people development expert, David specializes in developing and accelerating employability. He also runs the Employability Hub (a social learning community and resource center), the Learning to Leap group on LinkedIn and Facebook fan page. Tweet David, or contact him via his website.