Being a professional doesn't necessarily require wearing a suit or having an advanced degree. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, being a professional means conducting yourself with responsibility, integrity, accountability and excellence. In addition, it means communicating appropriately and always finding ways to be productive. It is essential to keep these ideas in mind both in your role as an employee and as a student.

Components of professionalism

Looking at your phone while someone is speaking to you is rude and unprofessional. Let the speaker know that you hear them. When it's your turn to speak make sure that what you say is appropriate for the individual and the situation. If you're in the workplace, in an interview or at an event where you don't know many people, it's probably best to leave politics, religion and very personal information out of the conversation.

Dress for Success

When job hunting first impressions are critical. Before you say a single word to the interviewer you will have already made an impression based on how you're dressed. That is why it is important to pay attention to how you dress for an interview. Typically, how much you dress up will be determined by the type of job you are applying for, but a good rule of thumb is to be more dressed up than less. Always dress conservatively and avoid anything tight, bright, short or sheer.

Dress for success checklist

Make sure you have:

  • clean and polished conservative dress shoes
  • well-groomed hairstyle
  • cleaned and trimmed fingernails
  • minimal cologne or perfume
  • no visible facial and body piercings
  • well-brushed teeth and fresh breath
  • no gum, candy or other objects in your mouth
  • minimal jewelry
  • no body odor
  • shirts tucked in
  • no odors on clothes; don't smell like smoke
  • conservative colors and prints
  • ironed clothes
  • minimal and natural looking make up
  • clean shaved; if you have a beard make sure it is neat and trimmed.

Interviewing skills

The interview is one of the most critical pieces of the job search, typically being the most vital criterion for hiring. While the employer evaluates your qualifications, personality and ability, you assess the opportunity and the company. Therefore, understanding the purpose is the first step in being prepared and handling the interview with confidence.

Interviewing tips

Resume and cover letter