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Professional Image

Opinions regarding your character, commitment and competency can be formed within a few seconds. Everyone from your classmates and professors to a hiring manager will be observing you. This is the time to start thinking about how you are perceived and how you want to be perceived. Impression management starts now with respect for yourself and those around you.

So take a moment before you write that email, introduce yourself or sign-in for that appointment.

  • Good eye contact and a smile is always appropriate. If you are seated stand up and extend a firm handshake.
  • During an introduction, repeat the person's name back in the greeting, "So nice to meet you, Ms. Smith."
  • Resist the urge to fidget, touch your hair or face, or any other unnecessary gestures. You will appear to have a short attention span and can appear uninterested and rude.
  • Always introduce a more senior-level person first to a junior-level colleague.
  • If you have business cards, use them! Otherwise, you will not only look unprepared, but also miss out on a potential business contact.

  • Never assume a familiarity that doesn't already exist. Correspondence should be professional, polite and to the point.
  • Always have a Subject line, Greeting and Closing to your email that includes your Name and Contact information.
  • Sarcasm and humor are not appropriate in professional correspondence. These are things that need to be observed in the context of a conversation with someone you have an established relationship with. Your statements could be easily misinterpreted, leading to disciplinary action, dismissal or worse! 
  • If using an email other than your university address, make sure it is professional.  Avoid anything silly (socool#[email protected] etc)
  • Remember emails are public documents and can be seen or shared easily- Think before you hit send!

  • Wear your name tag in the area below your right shoulder. If the name tag hangs around your neck- shorten it so that it is closer to eye level.
  • If you are handwriting a name tag, print clearly and large enough to be seen easily
  • Never place a name tag on your arm or leg. You are wearing it for a reason!

  • Have a professional voice mail message that includes your name and speak clearly
  • If you are in a meeting, class or other event put your phone on silent; and if you must answer, excuse yourself from the meeting before taking the call
  • Never put a call on speaker before asking their permission
  • Don't text, surf the web, or check email if you are waiting to meet someone for a job interview
  • Choose ringtones you won't regret and that are appropriate in a professional setting
  • Cell phone addicted? Put the phone away! You don't want to be unconsciously glancing at your phone during a meeting or interview.
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