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Starting an office job can be a huge transition from previous stages in life. Maybe you’re starting your first office job straight out of college, or as a high school student, or maybe you’re re-entering the workforce after raising a family. Whatever the case may be, here are some tips to help you appear more professional at work. As you’re adjusting to this new phase, use these tips to “Fake It ‘Til You Make It.” After you practice these skills, they will become habits, and you actually WILL be more professional!

1. Confidence

Confidence is yourself is key in the workplace. When you have confidence that you can do your job well, your customers and coworkers have confidence in you as well. Do what you need to do to build real confidence in your role. Show your customers and coworkers that you’re sure of yourself, and they will trust your professionalism more. Just remember: confidence is different than ego. Don’t be boastful or condescending in the process of trying to be confident in yourself.

2. Communication

Develop strong communication skills. If you have questions about your role or a project, figure out who to ask and how to ask in a tactful and professional way. Communicate your expectations (and make sure they’re reasonable) before you hold anyone to them. If something is unclear or you need help, ask. Talk through confusion rather than trying to guess what you’re supposed to do.

3. Composure

It is very important to maintain control of your emotions in the workplace. If you face a disagreement with someone, do not raise your voice or belittle them, even if you are right. Figure out a way to keep your tone even and either resolve or diffuse the issue. When you receive feedback in a regular review, keep your composure even when you’re offered criticism. In the case that someone else is behaving inappropriately toward you, make sure you communicate with a manager or human resources staff so that the issue can be resolved.

4. Curiosity

Always be learning. Ask coworkers about their roles and projects. Try to figure out how your role really fits into the bigger picture of your organization and how your skills may be most useful. Research your industry and work toward being a step ahead of your competitors.

5. Self-Awareness

Work on understanding how you work, what your quirks and triggers and pet peeves are. When you know these things about yourself you can tailor your habits to better enable your productivity. You can also work on improving things that you need to stop doing. Thorin Klosowski of Lifehacker says “You can read every productivity tip out there , you can adapt the routines of geniuses , and you can eat up every piece of self-help that comes across the computer screen, but it’s completely pointless if you don’t know yourself well enough to put the correct advice into practice.”

6. Follow-Through

Everyone wants to work with the person who actually gets things done. This is crucial to being viewed as a competent and capable professional. People want to know that they can trust you to finish what they’ve asked you to do, or the elements of your job description that their jobs also depend on. Start by not making promises you’re not sure if you can keep. Focus first on mastering the parts of your job that require the most follow-through. As you get that under control you can start to take on more.

7. Preparation

Be ready! This doesn’t just apply to the weekly meeting you’re supposed to be prepared for. Be prepared for your daily life as a working professional. Make sure you have clean clothes to wear. Make time to take a shower, pack lunches, and get to work on time. Get yourself a good calendar or planner and make a habit of writing down your obligations so that you are prepared for them before they happen.

8. Request Feedback

Self-awareness can only take you so far. You need to be aware of what your coworkers and supervisors think of your work. By asking for and implementing feedback, you show that you take your job seriously and you want to improve. You also show that you’re able to take criticism with composure like we talked about earlier.

9. Posture

Watch your posture and body language at work. If you’re slouching or leaning way back in your chair all the time, you may be perceived as less professional. It can seem as though you’re just relaxing and not taking your work seriously. When engaged in conversation with colleagues or supervisors, pay attention to your body language. Are your arms folded? Are you projecting an unpleasant attitude with the way you’re standing or sitting?


You’ve got this! Take this list and figure out where you can improve. What other ways do you try to seem more professional in a new job?