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How To Be Professional: 25 Pro Tips To Get You To the Corner Office

Are you ready to move up in your career? We all are. As a leadership coach, former executive and current CEO of a software company, I’ve learned a thing or two along the way. I’ve compiled some tips to help you get the edge on the competition as you grow in your career. Some might seem obvious, others you may be accidentally violating. Either way, go through the whole list to get an idea of how you can be more professional and fast track your way to the corner office. You don’t have to like them, but you SHOULD follow them:

  1. Don’t date anyone you work with. It WILL get awkward. (Tweet this tip.)
  2. Don’t get sexually involved with a subordinate. This opens your company up to significant risk and is also tacky. (Tweet this tip.)
  3. Don’t sleep with your boss (or supervisor, or manager). See above. (Tweet this tip.)
  4. Say hi! People like to see a friendly face and keep an eye out for that up-and-comer. Even better, introduce yourself and find out something about them too. (Tweet this tip.)
  5. Avoid nicknames. Do you like to be called “Honey/Champ/Baby/Sport?” If you do, seek help, if not, don’t do it to others. It’s demeaning and will rarely be taken in anything but a condescending spirit. (Tweet this tip.)
  6. Good to the last drop. Did you drink that last cup of coffee? Then make sure you fill up the pot and start a new brew before leaving the break room. (Tweet this tip.)
  7. Hygiene is for Home. That’s why they start with the same letter. Don’t clip your nails, adjust yourself south of the equator or pick your nose at work. If you absolutely have to, do it in the restroom. (Tweet this tip.)
  8. Save the super-smellers! Don’t overdo it on the perfume, hairspray, smoky clothes or nail polish. Obviously none of these things should be actually applied in the office, no matter what Cosmo says. (Tweet this tip.)
  9. Mind your business. People really dislike being spied on so keep your eyes off your coworkers’ screens. (Tweet this tip.)
  10. Social Warning! If you are ready to tweet, Facebook or Instagram something, make sure it’s something you don’t mind your boss (or your mother) reading. (Tweet this tip.)
  11. We’re all adults, right? Don’t refer to colleagues as “girls” or “boys.” Both imply condescension and patronization. No. (Tweet this tip.)
  12. Ur so busted! Don’t email (or even text) using text speak. That was fine when we all had T9 phones, but today it looks lazy. You have autocorrect, Siri and increasingly impressive technology. Use it. (Tweet this tip.)
  13. Save the gossip for…never. Gossip does nothing but undermine your co-worker, make you look bad and waste employer time. It’s actually the worst thing you can do for your career. (Tweet this tip.)
  14. Email smart. When you send an email, make sure it only contains information that could be forwarded to someone else…because it can be… (Tweet this tip.)
  15. Courtesy reigns. Treat the CEO and the receptionist with the exact same amount of respect…people will notice. (Tweet this tip.)
  16. Respect other people’s time. Don’t be late, it demonstrates disrespect for your colleagues and the people who sign your paycheck. (Tweet this tip.)
  17. If you MUST be late, notify your colleagues and managers as early as possible so they can plan accordingly. (Tweet this tip.)
  18. Lead by example. Want someone to do something differently? Teach them how to do it and have them show you how they would do it. (Tweet this tip.)
  19. CAN YOU HEAR ME NOW? Sending any communication in all caps is off-putting and makes people think you are yelling at them. Alternatively, it implies an emergency which basically makes you the email version of the boy who cried wolf. (Tweet this tip.)
  20. No hugging. Except for your mom and dad, you can hug them. Just not if you work with them. (Tweet this tip.)
  21. Dress for the job you want. Also iron and dry-clean for the job you want. Make sure your clothes are clean, neat, wrinkle free and properly fitted. (Tweet this tip.)
  22. Show off your assets. Just make sure they’re the professional kind. Keep physical attributes like cleavage, chest hair, and a great set of legs under wraps. (Tweet this tip.)
  23. Don’t use your speaker phone unless there are four walls around you. Earbuds anyone? (Tweet this tip.)
  24. Save the fragrant meals for the lunchroom or outdoors. (Tweet this tip.)
  25. If there is room deodorizer in the bathroom, use it! (Tweet this tip.)

Did you like these 25 tips? Stay tuned for Parts 2, 3, and 4 of our HR Acuity Pro Tips series.

Deb Muller
Deb Muller

Deb Muller is the CEO of HR Acuity, the employee relations case management solution that companies trust to help them track, investigate, and analyze employee issues the right way.