In today’s career field, it’s not enough to have the skills to do the job. Employers have realized that it’s easier to train someone to do a task than find people with solid work ethics and professionalism.
This shift in the perspective of hiring has driven millions of success-minded people to learn about soft skills. These are characteristics of a person, not knowledge or abilities they have to do a job.
If you want to get that dream job, keep the one you have, or move up the ladder, focus on soft skills. These nine essential tips will teach you how to be more professional in the workplace by developing traits that all employers want.
1. Start With Your Attitude
Your attitude is the key to success everywhere in life, especially in your career. It’s important to recognize both your good traits to capitalize on them and your bad traits so you can fix them.
Take a second to think of your work history.
Have you been in the job field for a while, and every place you go to is full of problems? If so, you might want to check your own attitude before you keep searching for the perfect place to work.
Try to approach it from a neutral, unbiased stance. Most of us have a hard time seeing where we contribute to the problem because we are naturally biased in favor of ourselves.
Do you tend to befriend coworkers and then get in arguments with them? Are you always finding the mistakes other people make and pointing them out? Or bringing your personal problems into the job place?
These are all red flags that you should try to work on your attitude to get — and keep — your dream job.
Employers want workers who prefer to avoid becoming friends with coworkers. This almost always leads to drama. Unless it’s your job to supervise others, ignore their errors. And make sure you leave your personal problems at home as much as possible.
2. Check Your Clock Habits
Punctuality is enforced through time clocks and warnings, but the ability to naturally be on time is a soft skill.
Your reputation includes more than how well you do the job. It’s a combination of things, such as your attitude and aptitude. The characteristic of being on time for all deadlines, meetings, and daily work is part of reputation, as well.
Being late might not be a big deal to you. You know you can still get the job done, or you don’t mind losing a few dollars off your check.
But when you’re late, others are the ones who pay for the tardiness. They have to wait for you to do your part of the work, or field messages meant for you, and so on.
Always strive for punctuality, and your professional reputation will soar.
3. Encourage Teamwork
“Works well with others” used to be a footnote on report cards in elementary schools. It was a coveted comment from the teacher that many parents preferred to see over good grades.
The ability to collaborate is not something everyone has naturally. Our egos often get in the way of listening to others’ ideas or taking constructive criticism.
Conflicting beliefs and personalities make it difficult sometimes to work as a team. But when you encourage this through your own behavior and actions, employers see it as a leadership characteristic.
4. Be Someone Others Can Depend On
In your life, you probably have at least one person you know you can turn to for help — no matter what. And you probably know other people who, if you ask them to do something, you have to follow up to make sure it gets done.
Not everyone is naturally reliable. They have other priorities, are busy, forgetful, or just don’t care. Dependability is another soft skill someone must work to cultivate.
This doesn’t mean you run everyone’s errands and are the go-to when someone is in need. Being dependable in the workplace shows up as always doing your job efficiently.
Turn your work in on time, do your job well, and be willing to help out in times of need. But make sure you have boundaries, so you aren’t a doormat for everyone to drop their workload on you.
5. Learn the Art of Juggling Schedules
We all have work and personal lives. Sometimes, those two crucial parts of our schedules intersect. When that happens, the professional reputation you have will determine the results.
Say you have no choice but to have a medical procedure done during work time, or your child has an important school function they want you to attend. If you’ve used up all your grace at work by taking off to sleep late or run for coffee, you might not get time off for these necessary things.
Try to keep your personal appointments and errands separate from your work duties as much as possible. That way, when the need to take off for an important event or problem comes up, your boss will be more likely to be lenient with you.
6. Avoid Multitasking
With so many things to distract us today, multitasking is almost as natural as breathing.
Studies show that this common trait leads to less productivity in the workplace and can even damage your brain.
Centuries of research has consistently stated that your brain can only focus on one thing at a time. Allowing several avenues of input to enter your mind at once reduces your efficiency and performance.
Instead of operating at 100% for one thing, you’ve split your attention and, thus, your ability to do the task optimally.
7. Learn and Adapt
Change is part of life, even at work. How you adapt to the changes placed in your path is part of what determines how successful you are.
You can have a routine in your job. It’s expected in most places, actually. But when new things come up, the ability to handle those fluctuations without undue stress is essential.
You’ve probably already made a to-do list for the day, and when something throws a wrench in your plans, it’s frustrating. Of course, it is! Your annoyance is valid, but if you can’t do anything about it, it’s time to adjust your schedule.
This flexibility will pave wide paths for you at work and in your personal life. Make sure you’re able to adapt when an issue arises. If you need to learn a new skill to do so, look at it as an opportunity to improve your knowledge base!
8. Mind Your Appearance
Good hygiene habits are essential in the workplace. You don’t have to dress to impress, but you should look professional.
Follow your workplace dress code and then strive to be slightly better attired. For instance, if jeans are the norm, make sure yours are clean, free from tears, and fit you well. Then pair them with a more professional top and shoes.
How you take care of your body is also part of your appearance. Regular bathing and good oral hygiene habits are a must. Tend to your hair and skin.
This shows that you care about yourself and your health. When you let your appearance go, it’s a red flag to others personally and professionally.
9. Improve Your Communication Skills
Communication skills go two ways: how you talk to others and how you listen to them. Both of these require finesse and respect for both parties.
Speak to other people as though you value their participation in the conversation. Listen to them to hear what they are saying, not just to respond.
You can communicate through your actions as much as your words. If you don’t want to come across as unprofessional, watch your own behaviors. Slamming things around, rolling your eyes, and crossing your arms in front of you are physical traits of irritation.
In fact, by studying the psychology of body language, you’ll significantly increase your people skills. It’s a talent that will take you far in your life!
If you want to be more professional in the workplace, it all starts with you! By learning to understand your strengths and weaknesses, you can begin applying these nine tips to your life.
You will probably notice that they help you in every part of your life, not just your career!
Caitlin Sinclair is the Business Manager at Harvest at Fiddyment Ranch. With over five years of property management experience, she begins and ends each day loving what she does. She finds joy in helping current and future residents and makes Harvest at Fiddyment Ranch, a place everyone loves to call home.