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Your first time in a professional work environment can seem intimidating and tricky. But there are a few things that help make you seem, and eventually become, that true professional employee.

Dress Code

Dressing well regardless of your uniform, dress code, or preferred style is one of the most important things. Your attire is your first impression. It is how people view you in the workplace. The CEO wears a suit. The receptionist wears a cardigan.

You need to dress accordingly to your position — but amp it up! For instance, my place of work does not have a super strict work place dress code but I still make sure to adhere to business casual attire and make myself look presentable. You never know who may stop by your workplace. You could receive a visit from the president of the company and you really don’t want to be looking like a disheveled mess. Looking good is part of being professional.

Personal Hygiene

This one probably seems like a no-brainer but honestly, it has to be said. Shower. Please.

Whether you have your own office, share one, or are in close proximity because of a cubical situation you need to smell fresh. The best compliment is to have someone enter your work space and immediately go, “wow, it smells great it here.” That could be because of you and your great hygiene, or because of some air freshers. But seriously, keep it fresh. Fresh = professional.

Customer Service & Professionalism

People make fun of my “customer service” voice. But with any job — even if you sit at your desk and most days don’t have to talk to anyone — eventually, you will be put in a situation where you will need to speak with someone to resolve an issue. Maintaining your composure on the phone, or in person, is key. Remaining call exudes professionalism. Especially if someone, even your boss, is upset at you or a situation. Take a deep breath, realize it’s more about them than it is you, and remain calm. You can vent about it when you’re home with your bestie or significant other — or to your cat.

Work Space Drama & Gossip

We all know it is hard to not gossip or talk about that one person in your office who seems to do nothing and still gets paid. It’s hard not to talk about how rude your co-worker is, etc. (just examples!)

Staying out of the drama makes you seem like the ideal employee. It elevates your status as a co-worker because you are seen as loyal, honest, and, honestly, non-problematic.

Here is a great article about how to deal with “mean girls” at work by the Business Insider.

Be Honest

The last thing you need in your work place is to be caught in a lie. Be honest with your employer, be honest with your co-workers, and be honest with yourself. White lies are different. But big, career-ending lies are a serious no no.

If you hate what you’re doing you need to break it to someone — and that someone is your employer. You need to be realistic about your own skills and your mindset within your department. Your employer expects professionalism and honesty just as you should expect the same from them.


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