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Study Geography »Conducting yourself professionally

Behaving appropriately when you are at your place of work should be the foundation of your professional life. You can build up your reputation by following a few simple principles to make sure that people remember you for all the right reasons.

Many employers take basic professional behaviours for granted, so you may not be given guidelines in your job contract. There are, however, are a number of the essential points which you should consider when thinking about how you conduct yourself at work:

  • Be respectful – it is important to be polite, courteous and considerate of colleagues and everyone with whom you come into contact
  • Make sure you are prepared whenever possible – if you are going to a meeting with colleagues, check the topic and work out what questions might be directed your way, or if there are materials that you might be asked to distribute
  • Reliability is important – you are more likely to be given important projects which will help to advance you career, if you have proven that you can be depended upon to complete them successfully
  • Pay attention to your personal presentation, and dress appropriately for your workplace. If you are not sure about the dress code, ask!
  • Be punctual, whether arriving at work or turning up to a meeting
  • Have a positive attitude to everything you do – if you are pleasant to be around then people will enjoy working with you, and want to collaborate with you on future projects
  • Be honest. If you do not think you will meet a deadline for a project, better to say early and help by thinking of possible courses of action with your manager
  • Do not be afraid to use your initiative. For example, employers will appreciate being given forewarning of any possible issues so that they can be addressed before they become problematic for the organisation
  • If you have made a mistake, acknowledge it, apologise to those affected, and learn from it 
  • Always recognise the contribution made by others – you should never take credit for work that you have not done
  • Respect the privacy of anyone who shares information with you in confidence - discretion is expected and always appreciated by employers

If you are at the beginning of your career path, you might also be interested in our advice about employability and finding jobs.

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