5 ways to be more professional now

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The looming onset of adulthood is always on the minds of BYU students whether they are freshmen or super seniors. Here are some simple tips to be more successful in any professional setting.

1. Handshakes

It’s commonly said you never get a second chance to make a great first impression and, especially in the professional world, this carries even more weight.

Did you know there is an etiquette to shaking hands? As a general rule, the person of highest rank should be the first to extend their hand. If rank is equal, then the older individual extends their hand. If rank and age are equal, the woman should engage the handshake.

Etiquette is all about facilitating easy movement and good relationships, so don’t freak out if things don’t work out perfectly. Even world leaders struggle with this.

2. Interviews

The key to being great in interviews is preparation. Take time to research the company and interviewer, so you will be knowledgeable and better able to form responses that will resonate. Practice answering questions aloud to develop muscle memory and gain more confidence.

Remember you have more control than you think. You are interviewing the company as much as they are interviewing you. Prepare several questions to ask your interviewer and be ready to take notes on their responses. If you are conducting a video interview, make sure your camera is level and the setting is well lit and professional.

Tip: Treat the secretary kindly. Besides the obvious reasons one should be kind, companies have been known to take treatment of others into account during the hiring process and people have lost jobs because of it.

3. The power of Thank You notes

Regularly expressing gratitude not only contributes to your own happiness and wellness, but it is a great way to be a memorable and well-liked professional. Thank You notes should be simple and specific. They can (and should) be sent to anyone: interviewers, mentors, co-workers, etc.

Example:

Date

Dear _________,

Thank you for __________________

I _______________________(name something specific)______

Thank you again __________________

Sincerely,

You’ll be surprised how big of an impact this can have. There’s a reason some people still have Thank You notes from decades ago.

4. Dress for the occasion

Don’t wear a suit on casual Friday, but don’t wear your tattered old jeans either. Observe what your professional superior wears for such occasions and try to mirror them. For all formal events, make sure you are clear on the dress code and ask if necessary. Clothes can influence productivity and confidence, so don’t overlook them.

5. When in doubt, ask or observe

“Fake it until you make it” is not the mentality to adopt in the professional world. If you are in a setting that is unfamiliar such as managing the silverware at a formal business dinner it is always better to ask. The key is to not draw attention to yourself. Quietly ask a co-worker or observe how others are acting.

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