Today's Job Market: Workplace professionalism involves more than just knowledge of the job
by Rick Creasy
May 26, 2013 | 1331 views | 0 0 comments | 13 13 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Each year, the York College of Pennsylvania conducts a nationwide study on the state of professionalism in the workplace.

The study seeks to determine employers’ experiences with recent college graduates during the hiring/interviewing process. Hiring managers, human resource directors, supervisors and CEOs are asked to evaluate and assess the job candidates’ workplace professionalism.

Employers define professionalism in the workplace as an employee who demonstrates these qualities: work until a task is completed competently, strong interpersonal skills, appropriate appearance and attire, punctuality and regular attendance, communication skills, honesty and focused attentiveness.

What’s missing?

Do you notice anything missing from this list? Few employer respondents to the 2013 survey mention expertise in one’s field as being a major focus of “professionalism” in the workplace. While an employee’s subject matter expertise may be a given, the results demonstrate how important professional “soft skills” are to employers.

Major findings

A reoccurring theme in the research over the past four years is the sense of entitlement which new hires demonstrate.

“Hey, look at me, I’m a college graduate!”

Younger job seekers and applicants falsely believe they are owed something from the employer in terms of higher wages and more benefits. In other words, job applicants are focusing on what the employer will do for “me” instead of the more appropriate attitude of “this is what I can do for you.”

Employers want to know what the applicant brings to the table which will help increase profitability and production. And remember, it was “commencement” rather than a graduation; you’re just beginning, no one owes you. The degree does not “entitle” the recipient to anything.

Respondents to the survey believe this sense of entitlement stems from overindulgent parents, privileged childhoods and political/cultural attitudes.

Have you ever been in a meeting or personal conversation with a co-worker and they suddenly “check out” and start typing away to answer a text message? It’s rude and it’s unprofessional.

It’s no surprise that abuses of technology continue to plague the workplace. The most common types of abuse, which are considered unprofessional, include text messaging at inappropriate times, inappropriate Internet use, excessive twittering/Facebook, excessive cellphone usage for personal calls and texting/emailing when direct conversation is more appropriate and effective.

Technology is here to stay and we appreciate all the benefits technology brings us, but it can be a major distraction whether you’re in an important meeting or trying to carry on a face-to-face conversation with a co-worker.

Want to keep your job?

So what does all this mean? If you want to keep your job, make your employer happy and advance your career, you’ll need to dress, look, talk, focus, be honest and be punctual in a professional manner.

Do you want to be hired?

If you are looking for a job and land an interview, make sure you arrive a few minutes early.

Poor personal hygiene will negatively impact your chances of being hired. Dress appropriately for the job, remove your nose ring, don’t use your cellphone, and you might consider leaving it in the car.

Prepare for the interview by researching the company and tell the employer how you can help increase profitability and production.