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I just graduated and got a job: How do I act professionally?

Susan Ricker, CareerBuilder Writer

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Congratulations on graduating and joining the workforce. Now that you're a contributing member of society, your parents are probably already asking when you'll be moving out of the house. Before you spend your first paycheck, start your new job off on the right foot by following these steps for acting professionally at work.

Organize your wardrobe
During the interview process, you probably got a glimpse of your future colleagues' work attire. If not, you can always email the hiring manager to ask about the dress code. What's appropriate to wear will vary by industry, company and region of the country. However, there are some basics for picking your outfits. You want to convey your professionalism and attention to detail. Skip anything stained, torn, baggy or tight, and instead opt for collared shirts or blouses paired with clean jeans, dress pants or skirts.

Create your own social-media policy
To friend or not to friend? That is the question when it comes to your new work buddies. You already should have changed your social-media website settings to private and avoided posting any embarrassing profile pictures of keg stands or controversial status updates. If you've listed your new company on your profile pages, be respectful and find out if it has a policy about personal social-media use. Whether it's using websites while at work or mentioning your company in status update, you don't want to risk being fired over a Tweet. Adding work friends is up to you; most social-media sites have enough privacy options that you can add every type of friend and still be yourself.

Get on a schedule
After you determine your regular work hours, keep an eye on how long everybody actually stays. For the first couple of weeks, make sure you arrive punctually, and stay at least until the end of the day, unless your boss says you can leave earlier. Some days you may stay later than others, but pay attention to the office culture. Some companies are flexible about hours as long as the work gets completed on time, while others expect employees to punch in with time cards to keep track. Bottom line: Be punctual and professional about your work hours. Schedule your day if it helps your productivity, and give yourself enough time to get through your to-do list.

General tips

  • Buy a daily planner or set up a calendar through your email or phone to help you stay organized.
  • Don't show up late for meetings.
  • Keep your cell phone on silent unless it's a work phone.
  • Don't spend all your time texting or surfing the Internet.
  • Don't bring a lunch that will leave behind a strong smell the rest of the day.
  • Don't use sick days or take unplanned vacation days right after starting.

If you have questions, observe the behavior of your co-workers, and don't be afraid to ask somebody. No matter what, it'll never be OK to steal lunches from the staff lounge.

Susan Ricker is a writer and blogger for CareerBuilder.com and its job blog, The Work Buzz. She researches and writes about job search strategy, career management, hiring trends and workplace issues.



Last Updated: 30/07/2012 - 5:46 PM


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