Maintaining A Professional Image

February 28, 2014

| Strayer University

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A degree provides a level of education that employers value.  However, presenting oneself in a professional manner is equally important in the workplace.  This includes everything from appearance to communication style.  This article is a guide on how one should develop and maintain a professional image.

Appearance

Traditionally, office dress code has been quite formal.  In recent years, however, business casual attire has become increasingly popular.  Regardless of the dress code, it is important to be clean-cut and dressed appropriately.  A myriad of situations may present themselves in the office when it is important to make a good impression.  Clients can drop in unannounced or upper management may request impromptu meetings.  Clean and pressed clothing looks the most presentable. Iconic fashion source, Harper’s Bazaar, suggests not showing too much skin and avoiding clothing that is too tight.  The adage “dress for the job you want, not the job you have” holds true.  Mark Twain knew that “clothes make the man” so, when in doubt, dress to impress.

Body Language

While body language may not immediately come to mind when thinking about one’s professional appearance, it can be increasingly important.  Eye contact shows interest, a firm handshake conveys confidence, and nothing indicates boredom or disinterest like slouching in a chair.  Forbes recently published an article titled 12 Body Language Tips for Career Success, which gives excellent advice on how to use body language to get ahead in one’s career.

Verbal Communication

In the office, both casual and professional conversations take place throughout the day and employees should know how to behave accordingly.  While colleagues may become friends, the office is not the place to have prolonged social conversations.

In an interview, speaking professionally is obviously important.  This is not the time to use slang words or be far too conversational.  Refrain from discussing personal problems or issues.  If they are inadvertently discussed, steer the conversation in a more positive direction.  Also, avoid those “um’s and ah’s,” as they are dead giveaways for confusion or doubt.

Written Communication

Writing is required in almost every profession.  From an IT executive writing an email to a journalist writing a headlining article, everyone must be able to write in a professional manner.  Poor spelling and grammar is, perhaps, one of the biggest mistakes people can make.  Proof reading any piece of writing is important.  The email you write to a friend in the next office could easily end up in the inbox of the department head after several people hit “forward.”  Be sure to keep the content of all emails in the workplace professional to avoid any embarrassing situations.

Everything people do, say and wear is part of their personal brand and contributes to one’s professional image.  Superior job performance will greatly contribute to how one is viewed in the workplace, however a positive attitude and a polished appearance can also make a lasting impression.


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