5.1 Professional Deportment

“Professionalism has a universal culture, irrespective of language, religion or country.”
– Sukant Ratnakar

Questions to consider:

  • What does professionalism look like?
  • What is your professional “brand”?
  • How to develop a positive professional self?

Aboriginal Art, Aboriginal Painting

Image Source: www.pixabay.com

What is professionalism and professional deportment?

Professionalism is commonly understood as an individual’s adherence to a set of standards, code of conduct or collection of qualities that characterize accepted practice within a particular area of activity” Universities UK et al. 2004  (Source: www.queenssu.ca)

Professional deportment is the act of presenting oneself in a professional environment. Communication, attitude, and integrity are all components of professional deportment. It also requires you to demonstrate how prepared, responsible and reliable you are. Professionals working in a field are responsible for acting in a manner that demonstrates adherence to the code of ethics and standards of practice of that profession.

It is critical to demonstrate professionalism as a student and a future employee. Becoming aware of and developing these skills is necessary for your success during your upcoming field placement. You will learn about the importance of this valuable experience in the next chapter.

Professionalism in the Workplace

The key components of demonstrating professionalism in the work place include several factors such as your attitude, your actions, your understanding of cultural norms, the ethics and standards of practice of your chosen careers. All of the points mentioned below, will depend on these foundational factors. It is important that you review each of the points below and reflect on your own attitude, behaviour and cultural scripts to better understand professionalism in the workplace.

The following is a list key components of demonstrating professionalism adapted from the article Professionalism in the Work Place, created by  CENTENNIAL COLLEGE CO-OPERATIVE EDUCATION AND EMPLOYMENT RESOURCES, Sprint 2007

Have a Positive Attitude and Be a Strong Team Player

Be an enthusiastic team player who loves to learn from others and enjoys contributing to his/her team. As a placement student it is often about your determination to work well with others more than your individual achievements.

Dress Professionally

Make a positive first impression by dressing in accordance to your workplace’s expectations. it is important to review the dress code policy of the agency and when in doubt always ask about what is the agency’s dress code.

Adjust To Your Work Schedule

College and work schedules are quite different. As a college student you are already used to a time table or semester schedule. You may have early classes, late classes and no classes during a typical study week. When it comes to work schedule, you will be expected to work a typical 40 hour week  from Monday to Friday or based on the center’s working schedule.  Adjusting to this new daily routine may take some time.

  • Arrive early . You should be there a few minutes prior to your start time
  • Be flexible. Stay a little late or be prepared to work some overtime if necessary
  • Don’t be a “clock watcher”. If doing the job right means putting in extra hours, consider it an investment for future promotions
  • Familiarize yourself with your center’s break and lunch schedule
  • Be on time for meetings and appointments
  • Demonstrate an excellent attendance record

Take Notes/Ask Questions/Ask for Help

During meetings or training sessions, take notes. Ask intelligent questions – questions that demonstrate that you have attempted to find the information or solve the problem but now require assistance. Listen and learn from your mentors. Do not be afraid to ask for help when necessary.

Communicate Clearly and Professionally

Strong communication skills are very important in the workplace. Prepare for meetings and presentations in advance. Always speak clearly, whether you are conversing in person or over the phone. Know when to listen. You can learn a lot by listening to colleagues and superiors. Proofread all letters, memos and emails before distributing to others.

Maintain Confidentiality

“Confidentiality involves a set of rules or a promise usually executed through confidentiality agreements that limits access or places restrictions on certain types of information.”
(Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Confidentiality)
It important to avoid  sharing confidential information with others unless authorized by the agency. Show respect by keeping conversations and information private and limited to authorized personals only.

Take Responsibility for Your Actions

You are ultimately responsible for your actions. Ask for directions when necessary and do not be afraid to admit you do not know something or you have made a mistake. However, make sure you can demonstrate your eagerness to learn and your ability to solve problems.

Learn About Your Workplace

You should already know a lot about your workplace as a result of your interview preparation. Now that you have access to internal information, gather as much company literature as possible (policy manuals, reports, memos, etc.). Review the policies and procedures and ask questions to seek clarify when necessary. Get to know the names of all members of the agency such as the center supervisor, mentors, clients, genitor, cook, etc.

Take Initiative

When possible, ask for additional assignments or volunteer for extra projects. Make sure that your basic responsibilities are all met promptly and professionally.

Be Organized/Set Objectives

Take an appointment book/planner and notebook with you. Record all important dates to help you meet deadlines. Make notes of your tasks to help you avoid asking your employer to repeat instructions. Complete your assignments ahead of or on schedule. Your tardiness in completing your tasks could also affect others.
Set SMART objectives for yourself and review them periodically. SMART = Specific, Measurable, Adjustable, Realistic and Time bound.

Track Accomplishments

Retain positive feedback from your superiors, colleagues and clients. This information will prove helpful for future job interviews, reflective practice and simple personal satisfaction.

What Professionalism Skills are Employers looking for?

Hear from our panel of industry experts on the importance of demonstrating professionalism on the job.

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T0JS5z4DT8s


Developing Your Professional Brand

You bring your own unique set of skills on the job. Determine what sets you apart from other jobseekers to establish an impressive professional identity, or brand, which you can present to potential employers.

Your professional brand is a brief statement that summarizes your unique strengths, values, skills and how you differ from your competition. It assists in defining who you are, what makes you great, and why you should be hired. Your brand communicates your reputation and value to an employer. During the upcoming field placement experience, it is time to start thinking about how you want to showcase these unique skills, as this will increase your employability.

Key Takeaways

  • Your professional deportment encompasses the way you carry yourself, your attitude and the ways you communicate with others.
  • Being professional can ensure a positive first impression and help create successful interpersonal relationships both personally and professionally.
  • Professionalism relates directly to the profession’s code of ethics and standards of practice.

Attributions and References

Image Aboriginal Art Aboriginal Painting by esther1721 from Pixabay. Sourceed from https://pixabay.com/users/esther1721-534895/

Professionalism in the work place adapted from https://www.centennialcollege.ca/pdf/gradsuccesspack/JobOffer/Professionalism%20in%20the%20Workplace.pdf

Developing your Professional Brand (https://www.impactgrouphr.com/insights/5-ways-to-demolish-informational-interview-roadblocks)

Wikipedia: Confidentiality (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Confidentiality

Definition sources:


Confidentiality https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Confidentiality

Attitude https://www.lexico.com/en/definition/attitude

Cultural norms https://www.globalcognition.org/cultural-norms

Cultural scripts https://www.yourdictionary.com/cultural-script




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