By: Ryan Mazon
According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), Professionalism / Work Ethic is defined as: Demonstrating personal accountability and effective work habits, e.g., punctuality, working productively with others, and time workload management, and understand the impact of non-verbal communication on professional work image. The individual demonstrates integrity and ethical behavior, acts responsibly with the interests of the larger community in mind, and is able to learn from their mistakes.
Why is this important? I personally appreciate this competency because many people could find a reason not to be able to apply a competency to their life, but I think we could all be professional and have positive work ethic in whatever we do. As opposed to other competencies, one could see this skill as a lifestyle more than anything else. Thinking of influential, successful individuals, they are often exemplary professionals with inspirational work ethic.
That all sounds nice right, but how do we practice being professional and showing our work ethic? Whenever opportunity strikes, attempt to showcase your professionalism and explore your own personal work ethic. I will give you an example: when a student assistant recently started in our office, it happened to be one of our busiest times with events and projects having deadlines coming up. This student hit the ground running, checking in with us at the end of every one of their shifts to see if they needed to do anything before they left. This showed me one incredible aspect of their work ethic: their initiative.
Furthermore, this same student had to work with a family member who was less than happy about a new policy. The student demonstrated poise as she stayed calm, patient, and professional in her interaction with the upset parent. Her professionalism ended up cooling the situation down, and overall our team can now consider this student reliable after operating under such conditions.
It is important to be professional whenever you can, but professionalism and work ethic is established early, often as part of a first impression. Peter Schutz (former President and CEO of Porsche) shared simply: “Hire character. Train skill.” Many supervisors can relate: it’s nice to have a worker who can be coachable on relevant skills. However, one aspect of life a boss cannot always teach is character. Show your team you bring character to the table with your professionalism and work ethic!
Finally, if you are wondering what other specific tips and language you can use to set a memorable impression with your professionalism and work ethic, try these out. Then make them your own!
- Ask for feedback! Ask “Could I have done anything differently in that situation?” Or “How did I do there?” And “I am open to all feedback. I’m just trying to be the best _____ I can be.”
- Don’t be afraid to stay a little longer, or get there early to show your dedication. It is one thing to say you are motivated, but follow it up with actions. Let them speak louder than your words. For instance, if you ask for feedback and they don’t have any for you right then, encourage them to set up a meeting with you or approach you later if they think of anything.
- Take a few extra minutes out of your day to intentionally take part in the process of getting to know members of your team. This could be in person or virtually, and it does not take much. Most job settings are team-oriented, even if it does not feel that way all the time. I promise you won’t ever regret interacting with others to inspire you in your professionalism and work ethic.
Ryan Mazon is a Program Manager with ERAU Daytona Beach Career Services. He is a graduate of Florida State University and holds a Master’s in Career Counseling. Check out our podcast “Going Places!” that Ryan spearheads to learn more career development info.