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How To Be Professional at Work

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Employers expect definite skills, education and expertise from their employees, but they also value certain “soft skills” that add up to professionalism. Employees who behave in a professional manner at work are valued and earn the respect of their bosses and peers. These employees are most likely to receive raises and promotions and to survive company layoffs and downsizing.

Here's Looking at You

“Dress for the job you want, not the job you have” has become a cliché because it is true. You are making an impression on your boss, your co-workers, clients and other outsiders while you are at work, and they may be judging you -- even unfairly -- if you aren't well-groomed. Men’s clothing should suitable for their profession and should be clean and pressed. Women should also dress appropriately in outfits that are not too tight, too short, or too revealing. If your workplace has a dress code, follow it carefully. Even casual workplace style doesn’t mean sloppy.

Beyond the Job Description

An employer will value your willingness to go beyond simply completing your assignments. If you're new to the job, watch how things are done and follow the example. Later, you can show initiative by finding new and more efficient ways to perform your job and complete certain tasks. Offer to help colleagues when needed, and volunteer to fill in for absent co-workers. Remain upbeat and optimistic. Be flexible when problems and challenges arise. Stay focused on your job, and avoid personal phone calls and other interference from your outside life. Avoid engaging in, or even listening to, office gossip, and don’t even think about an office romance.

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Personal Qualities Count

Honesty, integrity, trustworthiness and reliability are qualities that will serve you well in any job. Show your boss your commitment to the job and the organization. Professionals continue to learn and expand their knowledge. Become an authority on your field or learn to master a new skill. Get to work and meetings on time and finish projects before the deadline. Without being boastful, show that you take pride in your work and the company. Conversely, don’t attempt jobs beyond your skills, and don’t be afraid to admit when a task is out of your element. Own up when you have made a mistake, and come up with solutions to make it right.

Get Along With Others

In any job, you're likely to find it difficult to work with certain individuals, including perhaps your boss. Your job may put you in contact with co-workers of different ages, backgrounds, politics and work habits, so it's important that you learn to show respect for others and to handle differences with dignity and grace. Listen carefully to other people. Remain calm in the face of conflicts and learn how to deal with difficult co-workers and customers.

About the Author

As a long-time newspaper reporter and staff writer, Kay Bosworth covered real estate development and business for publications in northern New Jersey. Her extensive career included serving as editor of a business education magazine for the McGraw-Hill Book Company. The Kentucky native earned a BA from Transylvania University in Lexington.

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