Professional Attributes

Professional Attributes That Help You Excel at Work. Every working professional needs professional attributes that make them appealing to clients and coworkers. Discover key characteristics of professionalism, from solid communication skills to technical competence to a positive attitude in work environments.

What Is Professionalism?

Professionalism refers to the code of ethics, responsibility, and competence that great employees bring to their jobs. Companies pride themselves on high standards for workplace professionalism. In job interviews, recruiters screen applicants for professional attributes such as poise, self-confidence, self-awareness, work ethic, adaptability, technical skills, and the soft skills that foster teamwork.

7 Professional Attributes

True professionals possess seven personal attributes that help them thrive in their professional life. Those key characteristics of a professional are:

  1. Technical ability: Top professionals need technical skills to perform their job without constant supervision or correction. When you bring technical ability to your job, you inspire trust from other team members, including those who supervise you.
  2. Time management: Time management encompasses punctuality and effective use of your work day. When you show up for work on time, you demonstrate respect for your fellow team members. When you complete assignments and projects on time, you build trust with your team as you work toward a common goal. Make time management a centerpiece of your professional growth.
  3. Adaptability: Top professionals must exude flexibility. In the world of business, plans change, and difficult situations present themselves. Teams must adapt, then using critical thinking to incorporate new strategies and tactics. Employees who cannot pivot to new realities will find themselves left behind as more adaptable professionals rise to the challenge.
  4. Teamwork: Few qualities of a professional matter more than a team-centric mindset. Organizations need team players who go the extra mile to help colleagues succeed. Demonstrate teamwork by putting organizational goals ahead of your own and pitching in whenever a need arises.
  5. Respect: Great companies are built on a foundation of respect. True professionals view their colleagues as assets and collaborators, not annoyances or obstacles. Demonstrate your respect for your team by showing up on time, working productively, and also embracing an array of perspectives.
  6. Boundaries: Coworkers can be friends, but they must respect work boundaries and separate company business from personal business. A reliable professional keeps their conversations focused on work. They eschew inappropriate language, sexualized messages, and prying questions about someone’s personal life. Many organizations have a code of conduct outlining professional behavior and roping off certain topics from workplace discussions.
  7. Appropriate attire: You send a message via your professional appearance; for some people, professionalism means dressing in a certain way. Abide by your office’s dress code if it has one. Typically you’ll need to dress in adherence with one of four workplace dress codes: business formal, business professional, business casual, or casual. As a general rule, avoid clothing with political messages, vulgarity, or that doesn’t match your workplace context.

3 Examples of Professionalism

Ethical behavior manifests in many ways in an office and in remote settings. Here are three examples of professionalism in the workplace.

  1. Greetings: When first meeting someone, a seasoned professional makes eye contact and shakes hands if appropriate. They employ effective communication by asking curious questions and actively listening to others’ responses.
  2. Workday conduct: When working with other employees, professionals make a concerted effort to be polite. They do not talk over coworkers or dominate conversations. They continually treat others with respect, even in tense situations. They complete tasks on time and make themselves available to help others complete their own tasks. They use their interpersonal skills to support their colleagues and ward off conflict.
  3. After work: When the workday is done, the scope of professionalism pivots to respecting people’s personal time. This means not disturbing colleagues at home (with emails nor work-based phone calls). While work is important, so is decompressing and recharging. Professionals understand this, and also they give fellow team members space to enjoy their personal lives.