When young people reach mid-20s, they reach a kind of mid-life crisis. They become relatively old to be students but are very young to be considered as professionals. To make a smooth transition to the professional age, students must inculcate professional habits in them so that they are taken seriously at their workplace.
Professional habits are more than merely saying, ‘Yes Sir,’ or ‘Yes Ma’am.’ This article provides students with 17 tips on how to develop professional habits so that by the time you reach mid-20s, you are ready to face the professional world and complete the transition.
1. Arrive early
The first impression of a professional that comes to mind is that he/she always arrives on time. It is a very difficult task to master. So, it is advisable that you leave for the workplace early and reach the office premises at least 5-10 minutes earlier than your scheduled work time.
Reaching early has its benefits like –
1. Showing your employers that you are enthusiastic and ready to work for the day. This is a tried and tested method of entering and remaining in the good books of employers.
2. You can start your work without any hurry. Being early to work makes you feel happy and stay calm from the beginning to the end of your day. This calmness rubs off on your overall mood and keeps you content and cheerful all the time.
3. Punctuality is also an indicator of your reliability because a punctual person will always have sufficient time to complete the task. Not only employers, but also clients, acquaintances, colleagues, friends and even family regard punctuality highly.
2. Make and follow an everyday to-do list
An everyday to-do list is like a blueprint for your daily tasks. It is the single most useful tool to help manage your time. Once you develop a habit of creating and maintaining a daily to-do list, you will discover that your tasks are being completed right on time and maybe even before the set deadline!
All the theories and principles of management have one component in common – Planning. It has always been an essential component of any task. It is more so in the professional world where sometimes even 24 hours are insufficient. Therefore, employers would naturally prefer a professional who can manage time perfectly and deliver quality work at all times.
3. Organize your desk
All of us have read Internet posts and photographs which emphatically declare that intelligent people often keep their things cluttered and disorganized, think haphazardly, and have bad handwriting. It is a massive misconception because disorganized people always find it difficult to search for important things which cause considerable delays in their tasks. They may produce good quality work, but it will always lack something because of the disorganization involved.
Therefore, it is vital for professionals to organize their desk and keep it neat and tidy for easier access to important things. If files and other important documents are kept within reach and neatly labeled, it automatically becomes easier to find and utilize them without any delay. Professionals should also organize their computer’s desktop in an orderly manner for a similar kind of accessibility that reduces the possibility of any delay or error.
4. Update yourself with current relevant industry news
A knowledgeable and well-informed professional is a prized asset for any organization. And as every professional’s goal is to become a prized asset for the employers, acquiring relevant updated knowledge about the industry becomes essential.
- Professionals should always read current magazines and newspaper articles pertaining to the industry they are working in.
- They can also converse with industry veterans and acquire a working knowledge of their profession.
- Reading about your own organization’s influence or position in the industry can allow you to make suggestions for further improvements. These suggestions and solutions will help you in climbing the professional ladder in no time.
The best part about acquiring industry-related information is that it need not be done exclusively in office hours. If you are passionate about your work, you can subscribe to magazines and newspapers to read in your leisure time. This will create more working time and assist you in completing your tasks in time with the best utilization of knowledge and resources.
5. Always dress professionally
This is one of the professional habits that should become an involuntary reflex action rather than a conditioned one. Dressing professionally makes an instant aesthetic impact on anyone who comes in contact with you while you are at work. It shows that you mean business.
Women should wear clothes that are not too revealing while men should wear collared shirts with a tie and a suit and should be well-groomed.
6. Maintain e-mail folders
Nowadays, e-mail accounts are flooded with unwanted messages. Segregation of unwanted and important mail becomes vital for a professional to conduct daily business. Organizing your e-mail is very similar to organizing your desk or desktop.
You can maintain separate e-mail folders for each client, colleague or superior if it is viable and necessary. This ensures direct and easy access to important messages from a particular source. Also, organization of e-mail folders saves you from the embarrassment of sending a message to the wrong recipient.
7. Replace old informal habits with new formal ones
We all know of the proverb that says, “Old habits die hard.” Yet, you must dispose of your old informal habits and adopt new formal habits as part of the workplace etiquette.
Informal habits comprise of –
- Greeting people with words like ‘Hi,’ ‘How are you doing’ and ‘What’s up?’
- Slapping a person on the back as a patting gesture
- Sneezing without a handkerchief or your hand to cover your mouth
- Speaking in conversational and colloquial language.
You should change these habits and adopt a more formal approach to conversation and other body gestures. This will ensure that people will take you and your work more seriously. Also, it will help you in earning respect and a good reputation at your workplace.
8. Respond to e-mails preferably within 24 hours
How would you feel if your message is not replied to within a particular span of time? You would feel that you have been neglected. Therefore, you should respond to mail and messages within 24 hours of receiving them. Reply earlier if your message is necessary to maintain the workflow or chain of command.
If you are facing a severe time crunch, just send a simple confirmation or short reply so that the sender’s communication is not neglected. If you are going out on a vacation, ensure that you inform important contacts about your unavailability for the particular period. Send a ‘thank you’ note as a follow up to every conversation to let the receiver know that he/she is valuable to your organization. Remember, response to communication is essential in the workplace and even outside of it.
9. Increase your professional network using every possible medium
Limiting your communication to just your team of co-workers will stagnate your professional life. Take the initiative to communicate with all kinds of people in the relevant industry. You can even communicate with and increase your network to people of other industries as well.
This initiative will go a long way in ascertaining your value and position in the industry. Also, maintain relations with people from your past and present like professors, teachers, friends etc. You never know who or which organization can lead you to your next career objective with more lucrative tasks and remuneration.
10. Always honor deadlines
Opportunities of more and better work come only to those who meet deadlines regularly. Thus, meeting deadlines is an essential task for professionals.
The benefits of honoring deadlines are –
- A natural increase in reputation due to timely completion of work
- A deadline that is honored is always followed by good publicity
- The good publicity brings in more opportunities of work that may fetch more remuneration
- You and your organization will gain the trust and confidence of your clientele.
11. Prove that you are reliable
For any employer, having a reliable employee is like having possession of gold. Professionals should always strive to be more reliable so that their employers trust them and have complete confidence in their abilities.
Habits like arriving early, completing work on time and delivering regular high quality work will allow you to be perceived as a responsible and reliable employee that can be trusted with the organization’s important tasks. It also helps you in gaining promotion and achieving a high position in the organization. So focus on exceeding your expectations and set yourself a high work ethic to help you become more reliable.
12. Have a mentor
You will become one of the best only if you learn from someone whom you want to emulate. If you have a person in mind that is the benchmark for your career goals, talk to that person and make him/her your mentor. Nobody refuses a friendly chat over a cup of coffee, especially when you have told them that you want to emulate them in a few years’ time.
Having a person like this will make you feel secure about your career decisions as the mentor will suggest the best steps to take for success. The mentor will also help you in acquiring and honing requisite skills along with providing you practical knowledge about your industry.
13. Ask for feedback from seniors and juniors
You can only improve when you know what to improve upon. You may not be able to discover all your shortcomings by yourself. That is why you need to get feedback from both your superiors and juniors to know what you are lacking in your approach to work.
Your seniors will give you feedback regularly, but you have to constantly ask your juniors or subordinates for feedback on your style of work. Remember, professionals always maintain a balancing act between their superiors and subordinates to keep a healthy working atmosphere.
14. Attempt a task yourself by researching thoroughly
There may be times when you feel that you desperately need assistance in completing a certain task. You may feel that the task is beyond your scope of functionality. Do not ever lose hope and conduct step by step research for a solution. What solution is not available on the Internet nowadays? Utilize search engines, YouTube videos and other self-help websites to get the job done yourself. Not only will it give you confidence, but also earn you accolades from your employers for showing the tenacity to complete the work without assistance.
However, if you think that a little assistance is required for you to understand a part of the work, do not be hesitant in asking for help. Your employers will find this feasible than receiving incomplete or bad quality work.
15. Update your resume regularly
Keep updating your resume with newly acquired skills and projects that will be of utmost importance in the next annual review or the next job application. It does not matter whether you are looking for a job or not, you should always update your resume regularly.
As a convention, you should update your resume every 4 to 6 months so that you include all relevant details of your work as they occur to avoid their omission. You also get the opportunity of removing unnecessary information from your resume that might detract potential employers.
16. Keep an accessible professional address book
Keeping a digital or non-digital professional address book makes it extremely simple for you to find contacts and communicate with them without delay. All your contacts are valuable to you in your career. Even when you are leaving a job, your previous company’s colleagues and superiors may play a vital role in getting you a new and better job. Therefore, it is very important to keep an address book to access any one of these professionals at any time.
Also, this habit can be a part of organizing your desk/desktop and can provide the same benefits.
17. Alter your social media privacy settings
Alter your social media profiles’ privacy settings in such a manner that you can easily regulate the material visible to your co-workers, employers and future employers. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter etc have introduced new and improved privacy settings that will allow you to stop the above mentioned people from viewing your party, beach and other informal photos and posts.
It is good to be honest and forthcoming, but these things should best be left in the blind spot of your professional contacts.
These tips should be followed keeping in mind the situation of your workplace and the kind of people that are present. For example, if your superiors are attempting to be friendly with you, do not give them the cold shoulder and talk formally. Adjust and adapt to their language and behavior. Professionalism is all about improvisation and quick thinking. The more you adapt, the more receptive and welcoming your listeners will be to you.
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