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Professionalism in the Workplace and 6 Easy Ways to Achieve It

When you think of a “Professional,” what kind of person comes to mind? A doctor, A lawyer? Maybe a CPA? It is true that the folks in each of these professions have sought higher education and professional licensing, professionalism in the workplace is not dependent on your choice of career. Being a capital-P Professional is something that we can all strive for and achieve. I know that most employees and job candidates have wondered at some point how to be more professional. Sometimes we just don’t know how to ask. So here are six relatively easy steps you can take to pursue greater professionalism in the workplace.

A man adjusting the button on a nice business suit as he walks down a staircase; the picture of professionalism in the workplace.

As we’ve established, the qualities that make someone a Professional are attainable. We should all be looking to improve on our personal presentation and workplace etiquette for those around us. But it’s not just something we do for everyone else. Professionalism in the workplace carries an added benefit. It makes the workday more productive and enjoyable. All while better supporting those we come into contact with on a daily basis. 

6 Tips for Professionalism in the Workplace

The following are a few actionable focus points you can use to start building your professionalism from the ground up. But remember: learning and practicing how to be more professional is a lifelong process!

Express Genuine Interest in Others 

As someone in the professional sphere, you absolutely need to demonstrate that you care about those around you. To the best of your ability, you should find out what they need to make their lives easier.

The best way to determine another person’s needs is to ask good questions and really listen to the answers. No matter what our jobs are, each of us today is likely in a position to provide value to our customers, our employers, or our co-workers. And when people feel like you’re hearing them; when they see that you care about addressing their needs, you become a valuable businessperson in their eyes. It’s a winning situation for everyone. How easy is that?!?

As you explore how to be more professional in your own day-to-day, try to give the impression to each person you speak with that they are the only other person in the room. Just let people tell you what they need and then do your best to make it happen. A huge part of building professionalism in the workplace is about being other-focused.  

As you explore how to be more professional in your own day-to-day, try to give the impression to each person you speak with that they are the only other person in the room.

Three women laughing, working, and generally demonstrating how to be more professional in the workplace.

Project Confidence and Positivity  

We all know that being around people with positive vibes usually puts us in a good mood. I don’t mean over-the-top cheeriness — that can be downright grating (at least until you’ve had your morning coffee). But folks respond well to someone who is friendly, direct, and ready to get things done.

Someone with these attributes is even capable of “resetting” the mood of the room by inspiring those around them. In general, people respect confidence and positivity when interacting with experts. It doesn’t matter what field you work in, if you want to be seen as a knowledgable professional, you need to be confident and positive. These attributes will directly reinforce the belief that you grasp the objectives of the project and can execute on behalf of your client, employer, or colleague. 

Practice Excellence 

Want to know how to be more professional immediately? Be the person that everyone can rely on. The best business associate is the one nobody has to worry about. When you give them a task, you have zero doubt that they will deliver on time and as promised. They go above-and-beyond whenever they can. People like this make it clear that they aren’t just going to help, but that they’re happy to do it. They smile! And they often give more than was even asked for. 

As one of Ohio’s top employment agencies, our team at People Groove screens candidates for this quality immediately. Why? Even if they lack some experience or they’re a little rusty on the interview, those who practice excellence in the workplace always rise to a challenge. Many things about professionalism in the workplace can be taught, but the drive to succeed by exceeding expectations is hard to instill. Unfortunately, it may also be the single greatest indicator of a strong candidate.

“The best business associate is the one nobody has to worry about.”

Meet Deadlines 

Do whatever you have to do to get projects done on time. Let me repeat that: Do whatever you have to do to get projects done on time. Don’t forget the promises you make (honestly, there is no quicker path to “unprofessionalism”). Set standards for how to be more professional with your email etiquette by answering emails in a timely fashion. Follow up with others so they don’t forget deadlines either. Also, be punctual in getting to work or clocking in from home. No matter how good your work is, it’s tough to achieve true professionalism in the workplace if you’re constantly dropping the ball on deadlines or AWOL during work hours.

Be an Effective Communicator

Whether in person, by email, or over the phone, learning how to be more professional means learning to effectively present your ideas. You might have a great plan, but if no one understands it, what good is that? Everybody had that one high school teacher who really knew their stuff but struggled to present the information in a way that students could understand. This phenomenon is equally present in the world of business, and it can be a real obstacle for some folks.

One way to combat this and practice professionalism in the workplace is by planning out your talking points. Not everyone is great on the fly, and that’s totally okay. If you find yourself struggling with clear communication in the workplace, try writing down three key points of your next big idea. Before you have a conversation about it, practice how you want to bring each point up. These are three things that, as long as someone takes them away from the conversation, they will have enough information to work with. If they don’t, that will be on them to ask for clarification.

Anyone who wonders how to be more professional should definitely take an objective look at their communication skills. Because most of us have ways we can improve in this area!

Four coworkers looking at a MacBook Pro and practicing professionalism in the workplace.

Be a Team Player

This is sort of a summing up of the last five points, but it’s critical to keep front of mind if you really want to know how to be more professional as a businessperson. As the English poet John Donne wrote, “No man is an island entire of itself.” We must all work together to achieve greatness in life and in business.

Professionalism in the workplace is an unspoken contract that reads, ‘I agree to put the common objective first.’ There are times to be selfish. There are even times to go a little rogue and try something untested. But at the end of the day, the team should always come first. Keep that in mind, and you’ll be well on your way to greater professionalism in the workplace.

More Questions on Professionalism in the Workplace?

Schedule a Call to find out about People Groove’s amazing work resources including interview coaching, resume writing, and local staffing solutions! Teaching people how to be more professional is a big part of our mission as a Columbus staffing agency.

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