Professionalism – Career Development from

Professionalism – Career Development from

Professionalism - Career Development from

Developing This Vital Characteristic

You know that it’s essential to be professional if you want to be a success. But what does “being professional” actually mean?

For some, being professional might mean dressing smartly at work, or doing a good job. For others, being professional means having advanced degrees or other certifications, framed and dangled on the office wall. Professionalism encompasses all of these definitions. But, it also covers much more.

So, what is professionalism, and why does it matter? And how can you be totally professional in your day-to-day role? In this article we’ll explore all of these questions, so that you can present a truly professional photo in the workplace

Do you exhibit the six traits of a true professional?

Defining Professionalism

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines professionalism as “the conduct, aims, or qualities that characterize or mark a profession or a professional person”, and it defines a profession as “a calling requiring specialized skill and often long and intensive academic prep.”

These definitions imply that professionalism encompasses a number of different attributes, and, together, these attributes identify and define a professional.

So, what are these attributes?

Specialized Skill

Very first and foremost, professionals are known for their specialized skill. They’ve made a deep individual commitment to develop and improve their abilities, and, where suitable, they have the degrees and certifications that serve as the foundation of this skill.

Not all business areas have a stable core of skill (and the academic qualifications that go with this), not all areas request extensive skill to practice successfully, and not all professionals have top degrees in their field.

What matters, however, is that these professionals have worked in a serious, thoughtful and sustained way to master the specialized skill needed to succeed in their fields, and that they keep this skill up-to-date, so that they can proceed to supply the best work possible.


Professionals get the job done. They’re reliable, and they keep their promises. If circumstances arise that prevent them from delivering on their promises, they manage expectations up front, and they do their best to make the situation right.

Professionals don’t make excuses, but concentrate on finding solutions.

Honesty and Integrity

Professionals exhibit qualities such as honesty and integrity . They keep their word, and they can be trusted implicitly because of this. They never compromise their values , and will do the right thing, even when it means taking a stiffer road.

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More than this, true professionals are discreet &ndash, if a project or job falls outside their scope of expertise, they’re not afraid to admit this. They instantly ask for help when they need it, and they’re willing to learn from others.


Professionals hold themselves accountable for their thoughts, words, and deeds, especially when they’ve made a mistake. This individual accountability is closely tied to honesty and integrity, and it’s a vital element in professionalism.


They also stay professional under pressure.

For example, imagine a customer service employee who’s faced with an irate customer. Instead of getting upset or angry in comeback, the employee exhibits true professionalism by maintaining a silent, business-like behavior, and by doing everything that she can to make the situation right.

Genuine professionals showcase respect for the people around them, no matter what their role or situation. They exhibit a high degree of emotional intelligence (EI) by considering the emotions and needs of others, and they don’t let a bad day influence how they interact with colleagues or clients.

Looking the Part

Professionals look the part &ndash, they don’t display up to work sloppily dressed, with unkempt hair. They’re polished, and they dress appropriately for the situation. Because of this, they exude an air of confidence, and they build up respect for this.

How to Exhibit Professionalism

As you can see from these characteristics, professionals are the kind of people that others respect and value. They are a genuine credit to their organizations!

This is why it’s so significant that we work to earn a professional reputation in the workplace. True professionals are the very first to be considered for promotions, they are awarded valuable projects or clients, and they are routinely successful in their careers.

Now that you have a clear view of what constitutes professionalism, are you demonstrating these characteristics to the people around you? It’s likely you’re already showcasing some characteristics, but you may find yourself lacking in others: to build your own professionalism, concentrate on improving each of these characteristics. (Concentrate on one at a time, so you don’t get perplexed.)

Additionally, here are some further strategies that will help you be more professional in the workplace:

Build Expertise

Don’t let your skill and abilities get outdated. Make a commitment to build expertise and stay up-to-date with your industry .

Take our Bite-Sized training session on Building Pro Power to find out how to build and maintain your own accomplished power.

Develop Your Emotional Intelligence

Professionals can sense the emotional needs of others. They’re able to give clients and coworkers what they need, because they know how to listen actively and observe what’s happening.

So, if you want to improve your professionalism, concentrate on developing emotional intelligence .

Honor Your Commitments

Whenever you make a promise to your boss, colleagues, or clients, keep it. If it looks as if you won’t be able to meet a deadline, let your boss, team or client know as soon as sensibly possible. However, do what you can to avoid ending up in this situation!

Don’t make excuses &ndash, instead, concentrate on meeting expectations as best you can, and on making the situation right.

Be Polite

Be kind and polite and use good manners to everyone you come into contact with, no matter what their role is, and no matter how you’re feeling. This might sound unimportant, but it makes a significant influence.

Have the Instruments You Need

Do you showcase up to a client meeting lacking significant samples? Or arrive at work, only to realize that you left a vital file at home? Or do you find yourself operating in situations where you don’t have the abilities needed to do a good job?

True professionals are always ready. This requires advance planning, timeliness, and attention. Concentrate on improving your time management and planning abilities , so that you’re always in control.

Albeit professionalism means keeping commitments, doing high quality work, and having accomplished status, periodically the pursuit of these attributes might tempt you not to volunteer for projects that fall outside your “convenience zone.”

However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that you shouldn’t attempt! Analyze risks beforehand to minimize the consequences of getting things wrong, be fair about any abilities gaps that you have, and work to pack them. Then do the best you possibly can!

Key Points

Professionalism is a trait that’s very valued in the workforce. It has many attributes, including:

  1. Specialized skill.
  2. Competency.
  3. Honesty and integrity.
  4. Accountability.
  5. Self-regulation.
  6. Looking the part.

To improve your own professionalism, concentrate on improving in each of these areas.

This site trains you the abilities you need for a glad and successful career, and this is just one of many contraptions and resources that you’ll find here at Mind Instruments. Subscribe to our free newsletter, or join the Mind Contraptions Club and truly supercharge your career!


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