Conducting yourself in a professional manner shows a potential employer you are a serious candidate.
Professionalism consists of at least four categories.
- Begin emails with a greeting and end with a salutation and your name
- Use proper grammar and punctuation
- Professional format – greeting, middle, and end
- Write a clear and concise subject line with each word capitalized
- Appropriate greetings
- Dear Mr. Smith – formal first time email correspondence
- Hello Mr. Smith – less formal second time communicating
- Appropriate salutations
- Sincerely, – formal first time email correspondence
- Thank you, – less formal second time communicating
- All the Best, – less formal third time communicating
- Have a friend proofread your email
- Be polite – please and thank you go a long way
- Don’t let important email sit in your inbox for days
- Don’t forget to change your electronic signature for your phone email
- DON’T USE ALL CAPITALS – it looks like you are shouting
- don’t write in all lowercase
- Do not use conjunctions, abbreviations, or acronyms
- Don’t forget your punctuation.,!?
- Don’t forget to attach any documents you may be sending – Google labs to set notification
- Don’t use text speak
- Don’t send when angry, upset, frustrated
- Don’t write something you wouldn’t want forwarded to the entire school or company
Remember, once you send an email, you’re no longer in control of it.
During phone calls, the person you’re speaking to will not be able to see you and therefore read nonverbal cues. For this reason, you should make sure to speak very clearly and more slowly than you would normally. This will help reduce any confusion and make the experience better for both parties. If you are completing a phone interview, it is helpful to have your resume and the employer’s website in front of you for reference. However, make sure that you are giving the employer your full attention and ask for clarification, if needed.
Record a voicemail greeting and state your name so a caller knows they have reached the correct person. Example: “Hi, you’ve reached Sarah Sample. I’m unavailable to take your call right now. Please leave your name and phone number and I will return your call.” Also, be certain to leave your name and phone number when leaving a message for someone else. They might not have caller ID, so they will not know who called.
Speech and Tone
- Don’t use um or other filler sounds
- Don’t use slang
- Avoid interrupting the other person
- Avoid trailing off when speaking – finish your thoughts
Body Language and Nonverbals
- Maintain eye contact
- Show interest in the other person talking to you
- Nod your head
- Stand facing the other person
- Stand tall
- Be confident
- Stay engaged
It is important to send a handwritten thank you letter after you interview for a position or make an important connection. It’s acceptable to send a thank you email to those you had limited contact with.
Sample Thank You Letter
Dear Mrs. Spataro-Wilson,
Thank you for taking the time to speak with me this afternoon regarding your open position for Career Education Coordinator. It was a pleasure meeting you, Dr. Morton, and the rest of the interview panel.
After our discussion today, I believe I would be a very good fit for this position and for Shenandoah University. Due to my previous experience teaching a college course, I would thrive in this type of position that requires frequent class presentations. I can also draw from my expertise as a Winchester-native to better service Shenandoah University and its students.
I look forward to this opportunity and hope to hear from you soon. I can be reached by phone at 540-665-5412 or by email at email@example.com.
Be sure to dress appropriately for the organization and situation. Conservative business attire is usually best for screening or initial interviews. View examples on our Pinterest boards.
Here are a few basic tips on how to dress for an interview or professional occasion:
- Clothing and shoes should be in good repair and should fit properly
- Dress should reflect the level of professionalism of the organization or profession. Dress the part
- Wear appropriate undergarments
- Limit cologne/perfume. Wash hands after applying fragrances so that the employer will not get them on their hands
- Be mindful of piercings and tattoos
- No cellular phones, beepers, beeping watches etc. should be left active in an interview
- Conservatively cut and colored suit. Pants or skirt are acceptable
- Stockings in a neutral color
- Conservative medium to low-heeled shoes
- Limited jewelry/accessories-nothing that moves or makes noise is preferable
- Nails clean and a conservative length. Nail color is acceptable in conservative colors or clear
- Natural make-up. Be careful of overpowering colors
- Hair clean and conservatively styled
- Low-cut blouses, miniskirts, and tight clothing are discouraged
- Suit or sport coat and slacks. Make sure clothing is clean and pressed
- Conservatively cut shirt in natural fabrics and colors
- Tie to match clothing
- Leather shoes in good repair
- Limited jewelry
- Appropriate grooming, facial hair, fingernails, hair, etc
- Maintain frequent eye contact
- Shake hands with a person during greeting – this shows respect
- Express interest in the conversation by staying engaged and animated when speaking and through nonverbal cues
- Nonverbal cues should also show that you are engaged by avoiding the following behaviors:
- Looking at your watch
- Little or no eye contact
- Standing with arms crossed
- “Jingling” keys in your pocket
- Nodding in an impatient manner (i.e., nodding too much)
- Frowning, furrowed eyebrows
- Avoid interrupting the other person and speak only during appropriate, natural breaks in the conversation
- Engage in active listening – “listen to understand, not to respond”
- Clean up your social media
- Google yourself to see what comes up
- Take down questionable content
- Be careful who you follow
- Make sure your page is clean – if you wouldn’t show it to your boss or mother, don’t post it
- Images – that includes MEMEs
- Videos – that includes GIFs
- No profane language
- Update your privacy settings on all platforms
- Don’t post negative comments about classmates, professors, rotation sites
- Consider the pages and people you like/follow
- Be mindful of comments you leave on other people’s posts
Career Closet (312 Cooley Hall)
Students: The Career Closet houses a variety of gently used professional business attire such as blouses, pants, dresses, blazers, ties, and shoes. Students can email firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule a time for feedback on their professional attire.
Donors: The closet is stocked through donations of gently used attire from SU faculty, staff, and alumni. If you are interested in making an appointment to make a donation, email email@example.com. Donors can receive a tax exemption letter on behalf of the donation.