How to Project the Right Image at Work

business_manWhat qualities must be in evidence before you are seen as “professional”? Focus on those characteristics that are most important in your particular job and with your boss, rather than those making up some general list. Keep the organizational culture in mind as you consider this. This may dictate factors such as being respectful or ethical are important. To take a simple example, consider dress codes. You may work in an environment where a range of formality is acceptable; but you still need to decide where on such a scale you feel you should be seen to be.

You should be clear about what is right for you and to make analysis more manageable, it may help to see your list grouped into three categories:

  1. Your inherent qualities: those that shine through and need no great attention (they may be an ongoing part of your work and always in evidence)
  2. Qualities that do need acquiring or could use some strengthening (for example, if being a good communicator is important, maybe a useful first step might be to improve your report-writing style)
  3. Qualities that can benefit from some exaggeration

This last-exaggeration-is a valid technique, but should not be overdone. In some professions extreme exaggeration is endemic; for instance, many an actor has rued the day they listed an ability to ride a horse or motorcycle on their resume, and has the bruises to remind them.

Making people aware of how you operate and what you have to offer is an active process.

Three additional points may be useful:

Firstly, one caveat: do not overdo things here. You do not want a reputation for being unpleasantly “pushy”. But this is not what is meant here. For example, you might decide that being seen as someone who gives attention to detail is important (maybe with certain people or projects). The way to do this, or anything else for that matter, is not to say so, it is to show it. If this goes beyond your natural tendencies then you may need to enhance the ability and exaggerate it somewhat.

Secondly, you might also list and work on characteristics that you should avoid and be seen not to embrace. For example, few managers appreciate time-wasters, whingers or people who spend half their office life engaged in office politics or conducting private business on the Internet.

Lastly, explaining what you are doing may avoid negative impressions or enhance positive ones. For example, you might be noted as, wasting time on the Internet or you might explain that you are using your lunchtime to do some research (valid research, that is; the internet contains many unsuitable distractions-some of which have cost people their jobs)

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