Professionalism in the Workplace

by Courtney Hisey, Career Counselor

Business Meeting
Making the transition from the classroom to the workplace can be challenging and intimidating. In your first professional job, it can be difficult to know what your employer expects from you on a day-to-day basis. There’s a certain code of behavior that’s expected by most employers, and your adherence is key to being a successful employee for your company.

It starts with something that was drilled into your head as a child: Use your “pleases” and “thank yous.” These basic courtesies are still appreciated. As simple as this may sound, they can do wonders for your professional image.

In addition, maintain a positive attitude, follow through on things in a timely manner, communicate openly and honestly, and display a high level of ethical standards. These are among the most highly valued qualities within organizations today.

Making personal phone calls while at work is sometimes necessary, but keep them to a minimum. Some companies prohibit it altogether. If at all possible, conduct personal business during your break. Whether you’re making a call to a friend or scheduling an appointment, it’s essential that you do not disturb others around you. In other words, make those calls out of eye and ear distance of customers and co-workers.

Most companies offer vacation, personal, and sick time. The process by which you can take these days off varies by company, so it’s essential that you learn about this process within your first few days on the job. Whatever that process may be, most employers appreciate—and some even require—that you give a certain amount of notice before taking vacation or personal time. Doing so helps your employer ensure there’s adequate coverage during your absence.

It’s sometimes hard to see the impact of your efforts when you’re in an entry-level position. But no matter what you do for an organization, it’s a fact that someone, somewhere is depending on you to do your work so they can do theirs. If you can’t make it to work because of illness or an emergency, your manager needs to know. If you’re going to be late or need to leave early, be sure to notify the appropriate person within a timely manner. It’s essential that you be on time to work every day to show your company that you’re dedicated and responsible.

Most employers allow 30-minutes for lunch, although some will give you an entire hour. It’s important to schedule your lunch during a time that doesn’t leave your company’s staff shorthanded. Your supervisor will help you determine the best times for you to take a lunch break—and will appreciate a wave as you walk out the door each day. .

The same applies to your start and departure times. Some organizations have set hours and expect you to work those hours, and sometimes more. Some have more flexibility in the workplace: You can come to work, do what needs to be done that day, and leave. That could be seven hours or 12. Salaried employees typically do not get overtime for working more than eight hours, so don’t expect extra compensation if you have to work late one day.

Your appearance is also an important factor in your success in your first professional position. Many employers require either “business professional” or “business casual” dress. Business professional usually means a suit and tie for men and a skirt or pant suit for women. Business casual is typically a step down from a suit and tie. For women, dress pants and a nice blouse are suitable. For men, dress pants and a collared shirt or button-down shirt are acceptable. In addition to a dress code, some companies have hair policies. For example, for men, some do not allow any type of facial hair; others require hair to be above the ears. For additional information, check out the article “What You Wear Can Get You Somewhere or Nowhere,” here.

It’s important to review your company’s policies on all of these issues, and don’t be afraid to ask your supervisor or human resources representative if something isn’t clear to you. Making the transition into the workplace can be difficult at first, but when you adhere to these common rules and are knowledgeable about your company’s expectations, professionalism in the workplace can become second nature.


2 comments so far

  1. […] Professionalism in the Workplace « The UCMC Job Blog […]

  2. ajay handa on

    enjoyed your article a lot ! you have almost covered all the basic points and for a fresher this article is going to help a lot ! for me it is valuable !

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