Professionalism is a skill that must be practiced in order to excel in your career. For many young adults, professionalism is something they have yet to master, unless they were proactive during college and honed this skill before graduation. Most people learn through trial and error as they begin their careers, but you can get ahead of the game with some valuable tips and ideas about professionalism that many other young adults do not know.
Receive criticism gracefully
When you’re starting out in your career, there are some tasks you won’t do perfectly. Co-workers and managers will likely criticize your work. Most of the time, they’re trying to help you, so learn to take their advice with humility and grace. Do not get upset, but think carefully about where you can improve.
Be honest with people
When you were younger, it was easy to get away with fudging the truth. You could skip class and claim you were sick or tell your parents you were studying, when in reality you spent almost all night partying. While a fib may seem harmless at work, never do it. Lying has a way of catching up with you and in the professional world, it can ruin your entire career.
Keep your promises
Much like being honest, people will value you more if you show them you follow through when you give your word. If you promise to work on a project, then do it. If you tell your manager you can make the early meeting, be there. Don’t say yes to something you know you won’t actually do. The only time you can shirk these promises is when an actual emergency arises, like your car breaks down on the way to work or you’re seriously ill.
If you want to advance professionally, you need to stand your ground. Learn how to ask for a raise and don’t be afraid to ask for more opportunities to learn and grow. Put your ideas forward during meetings and ask questions if you aren’t sure about a task or a company policy.
Dress for success
The way you present yourself is more important than you can imagine. Stock your wardrobe with plenty of professional pieces that fit your field. Get rid of those clothes from college that you’ll never wear again and make sure whatever you wear to happy hour with co-workers isn’t something you’d be embarrassed if your boss saw it.
Learn proper etiquette
Do yourself a favor and buy one of those books that covers basic etiquette. Nothing can be more mortifying than going to an office dinner (especially with clients) and realizing you have no idea what you’re supposed to do with the forks. Know how to send a professional email and whether or not a behavior is appropriate for work. A lot of it will likely be common sense, but many people don’t realize the intricacies of etiquette.