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Professionalism is the conduct, behavior and attitude of someone in a work or business environment.  A person doesn’t have to work in a specific profession to demonstrate the important qualities and characteristics of a professional.  Professionalism leads to workplace success, a strong professional reputation and a high level of work ethic and excellence.

In a recent study on Career Readiness conducted by NACE (National Association of Colleges and Employers), employers who hire college graduates were asked which professional competencies were essential to workplace success.  Professionalism/work ethic topped the list with 97.5% of respondents identifying it as either “absolutely essential” or “essential” for a new college hire’s success.

Here are 12 ways you can develop and practice professionalism:

  1. Be productive
    Use your time productively at work.  Focus on your job responsibilities and avoid getting pulled into social media, web browsing and phone activity while on the clock.
  2. Develop a professional image
    Project a professional presence and dress appropriately for your industry and organization.  A good rule of thumb is to dress in the position you aspire to have.
  3. Take the initiative
    Ask for more projects to be given to you or think of assignments that will meet your organization's goals.  You don’t want to be under-utilized.
  4. Maintain effective work habits
    Prioritize, plan and manage your assignments and projects.  Follow up and follow through with your supervisor and team members.
  5. Manage your time efficiently
    Establish priorities, set goals and create action plans to meet deadlines.
  6. Demonstrate integrity
    Be accountable for your work and actions while behaving ethically at all times.
  7. Provide excellence
    Produce work and results that reflect a sense of pride and professionalism, often exceeding expectations.
  8. Be a problem-solver
    When you run into problems and obstacles take the time to brainstorm a few solutions and alternatives before you meet with your supervisor.
  9. Be resilient
    Develop coping skills to manage setbacks and challenges with a positive and constructive attitude.
  10. Communicate effectively
    Practice professional on-line, in person and interpersonal communication skills.
  11. Develop self-awareness
    Learn to manage your emotions and gain awareness of your emotional triggers so you can manage your reactions positively and productively.  Accept and reflect on feedback to assist as you learn and grow.
  12. Build relationships
    Network with colleagues, customers and clients to build professional cordial relationships, work on teams and collaborate effectively.