What Is a Professional? (It’s Not About Getting Paid!)

You have the degree. You have the skills. But your professional image and attitude are what make you the “complete package” to employers. What image are you projecting?

  • Take a look at your resume. Are the skills and job duties listed tailored toward the tech job you want, or does it seem like you’re looking for any old job in any field?
  • Is the layout and font style/size of your resume as crisp and professional as it can be? Paying attention to details on your resume shows employers that you will pay attention to details on the job.
  • How are your phone manners? Do you sound tired or bored during conversations, or are you respectful and interested in what the person has to say?
  • Does everyone in your house know that you are job searching? Do they know to give you accurate phone messages? When they call you to the phone, do they yell, or respectfully put the phone down or put the caller on hold?
  • Is your answering machine message that of a professional giving a name and/or phone number, or is it a confusing message with music or jokes?
  • When employers call you, do you promptly return their call, even when you are not interested in the position? Ignoring an employer is not only rude, but it usually “blacklists” you from being considered for future positions with that company.
  • Is your e-mail address a simple variation on your name? Is it too confusing for an employer to copy accurately, or a variation of an unprofessional-sounding or inappropriate nickname?
  • How’s your appearance? Everyone knows to wear nice clothes to an interview. But does your hairstyle, fingernails and grooming everyday show that you take pride in yourself and command respect?
  • When you talk with employers and other professionals, do you speak to them using the same language you do with your friends? Or do you remember to speak clearly, think about your responses, and not use slang? Getting too “familiar” or comfortable with an employer might be seen as a lack of respect. Take your cues from the interviewer and don’t be more casual than they.
  • When you talk to friends, family and networking contacts about your job search, do you sound like your unsure of your skills or apologizing for your lack of experience? If you don’t have confidence in your abilities, why should an employer have confidence and hire you? Be proud of your accomplishments and willing to explain your experience and skills to those who might help you find work.

The number of professional-level jobs you’ve had doesn’t matter. Your skills and desire to succeed in your field are what make you a professional. If you act like a professional, people will treat — and hire — you as one.

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