Ohio University Office of Career Services


Professionalism In the Workplace for New College Grads by Christy R

Professionalism in the Workplace for New College Grads


New college grads need to start putting workplace professionalism higher on their list of priorities as they seek jobs, employers say, according to a recent poll conducted by York College of Pennsylvania’s Center for Professional Excellence. The 2010 Professionalism in the Workplace Poll discovered eight specific areas in which employers have found new grads lacking:

  • Accepting personal responsibility for decisions and actions.
  • Being open to criticism.
  • Displaying a sense of ethics.
  • Being competent in verbal and written communication.
  • Taking initiative.
  • Projecting a professional image.
  • Thinking independently.
  • Demonstrating passion for their work.

The first two traits (accepting personal responsibility and being open to criticism) are the ones listed as needing the most improvement. Information Technology etiquette is another area in which employers are noticing less-than-desirable habits. The growing trend among students to surf the internet, text message, and respond to cell phone calls during class is translating into the work world in ways that employers find unprofessional.

Professionalism in the workplace is not limited to corporate jobs or specific professions (business, healthcare, law, etc.). In answer to the question, “Are all positions considered capable of exhibiting professionalism?” the majority of respondents indicated that they think of professionalism “as being related to the person rather than the position. Anyone in any position has the potential to exhibit professional traits and behavior.”

As you seek to project a professional image, keep in mind the following traits which were mentioned most often as characteristics of the professional employee:

  • Personal interaction skills (includes courtesy and respect).
  • Ability to communicate (includes listening skills).
  • Work ethic (includes being motivated and working on a task until complete).
  • Personal appearance.
  • Self-confidence and self-awareness.
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