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The following is an excerpt from my new book, "MORPHING INTO THE REAL WORLD - A Handbook for Entering the Work Force" which is a survival guide for young people as they transition into adult life.  The book offers considerable advice regarding how to manage our personal and professional lives.  As a part of this, I found it necessary to discuss why it is important to create a sense of professionalism as it applies to a young person's career.

Creating a Sense of Professionalism

Although you may want to excel in your chosen profession, it may be difficult if the corporate culture doesn't encourage you to do so.  Employees are sometimes ridiculed for aspiring to rise above the status quo and take on a more professional attitude towards their work.  Even worse, jealous employees may even undermine your efforts.  These are people who have surrendered to the status quo and put forth little effort to rise above it.  This is what I refer to as the "Misery loves company" phenomenon.  It takes a strong willed person with considerable perseverance to rise above the status quo.

As an individual, you have to find your niche, your area of specialty, and then master it.  To do so, become a student of your profession.  In addition to mastering your subject area, develop a sense of history to understand how the profession has changed and where it should be heading.  Further, resist the temptation to produce mediocre workmanship and strive for perfection.

In addition to your continued professional development, you have to cultivate a certain image or persona that allows people to know you take your work seriously.  This can take many forms:  your physical appearance, your demeanor, but more importantly your resourcefulness and job performance.  Be careful though not to violate the social norms of the corporate culture.  If your appearance or actions are radically different, the culture will begin to resist your efforts even if you have the best intentions.  To overcome this problem, solicit support from like-minded individuals and work together towards improving the professional standards in your department.  In fact, you have a better chance of raising the sense of professionalism when your manager truly supports teamwork.  If you can embed professional conduct into a team, it will inevitably become a part of the overall corporate culture.

One last thing in this regards, if you are really trying to cultivate a professional image, you might want to reconsider any listings you might have in Facebook.com, Myspace.com or any other such Internet listings.  This might have been fun as a kid, but is this something you want your boss and coworkers to see?

Career Planning

Like it or not, the era of twenty or thirty years of employment are over.  Even in Japan, the custom of "lifetime employment" is quickly coming to an end.  This is probably due to the fast-paced world economy we now live in.  Regardless, there is no longer any trust between management and its workers, and corporate loyalty is a thing of the past.  Instead of having a career path within a single company, employees now realize their career path will probably take them through several different companies.  Because of this, do not be afraid to leave a company if you feel your career plans are being delayed or sidetracked.  Also understand the difference between a true promotion and a lateral move to another area in the company.  Sometimes a lateral move can be helpful in that it may offer you an opportunity to shine where you couldn't before, but on the other hand, it could also be a hint to you to move along to another company and job, particularly if your new area is a dead end.

Before you decide to resign, make sure you have a better job lined up first.  This means an employee should always keep his resume and skills inventory up to date.  Further, if you are going to leave your job, try to maintain amicable relations with your company and workers, you never know when this might come in handy.  I realize this may be difficult to do, particularly if you and your employer have little regard for each other, but you should not get in the habit of burning your bridges.  And understand this, in today's litigious society, company's rarely give references.  Most will only confirm your job title and the length of your employment, and little else.  It is not that they want to give a good or a bad reference on you, they simply fear the legal repercussions for doing so.

If you decide to go back to the job market, there are now many more ways to get your resume in front of others than just a few years ago, particularly through the many Internet job portals now available.  There are also job recruiters you might want to work with to locate a job for you.  In this event, realize the job recruiters do not work for free and, as such, someone has to pay for their service, either you or the company recruiting you.  Either way, make sure this is clear before entering into a contract with a recruiter.  Sometimes companies like working through recruiters, others have policies prohibiting the use of them.

If you would like to discuss this with me in more depth, please do not hesitate to send me an e-mail.

Tim Bryce is a writer and management consultant located in Palm Harbor, Florida.

He can be contacted at:  timb001@phmainstreet.com

Copyright © 2008 Tim Bryce.  All rights reserved.

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