On The Job: From Paper To Pro Page 4

Deb Shinder

Building and Maintaining a Professional Image

What, besides experience, distinguishes a "professional" from a "paper" certification? One of the most important factors is the image you project. I have taught many MCSE classes and have seen many students venture out into the IT workplace. The piece of paper they have is the same - but there are some glaring differences between those who succeed in quickly getting a job and getting subsequent promotions, and those who don't.

Most of it boils down to the image you project to a potential employer. Ask yourself these questions:

  • Do you come across as someone who is easy to get along with, or do others see you as whining, demanding, and/or self-absorbed?

  • Do you focus in job interviews on what you can do for the company, or is every question you ask concerned with how the company will benefit you?

  • Do you project a professional image?

What are the elements of a professional image, you ask? Interestingly, it's often the little things that count, that brand you as a pro - or not. Just a few things that I, as a hiring authority, see as important in a candidate I'm considering for a position include:

  • Your Language and Demeanor

  • Your Professional Presentation

This article was originally published on Sep 18, 2000

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