Professionalism is one of the key elements needed to succeed in a career. Professionalism is about being trusted to do your job and produce work to a high standard. Whether you’re in a full time position, part time job or you work for yourself on a freelance basis, coming across as professional will only benefit your work life.
For the most part, it isn’t difficult to act professional, but there is a balance between being professional and being a stick in the mud. Finding the balance is a skill in itself and can only be worked on by you. Vice versa, there’s a balance between being fun and creative and coming across as unprofessional.
A common misconception is that professionalism required you to be less human and more robotic. That it requires you to take the emotion and humanity out of certain things. This is simply not true. Whilst different employers look for different demeanours; being professional in the workplace doesn’t have to mean that you can’t be friendly or that you have to be perfect all the time. The concept is based mostly on the trust felt between boss and employee, and provider and customer.
An integral element of professionalism is that of time management. As the idea of being professional is based on trust, it’s vital that you produce the work you’re offering and deliver it in a timely manner. This is especially important if you are set or set yourself deadlines. Not being able to meet such deadlines will undermine your image of professionalism and thus, damage that sense of trust felt between you and your customer or employer.
One thing that many people highly appreciate is being kept in the loop with what is going on, particularly when they are directly paying for a service. It’s an excellent practice to regularly update employers and/or clients on how you are progressing with your work. Doing this allows them to build a solid foundation of trust with you and will heighten your chances of gaining a returning customer. A simple update in an email can go a long way in this sense.
High Quality Work
This is a given, but being a professional means producing high quality work that either meets or exceeds the standards expected of you. The simple essence of it is that you won’t give a good impression to either customers or employers if you constantly underperform with your work. This can be especially detrimental to the self-employed because their work is exactly what is bringing them business. High quality work, along with determination, will get you a decent momentum going in terms of business.
Adapting Your Demeanour
In this context, being professional means adapting the way you act to become suitable for the workplace. A simple example could be using appropriate language and watching what you say. Another could be building trust by going the extra mile and providing evidence that you are a professional in the form of criminal background checks being carried out. Things like this can be reassuring for customers and a lot of employers require it (depending on your job role and the company) so it’s worth considering. In short, acting professional is vital in order to excel in your career.