First impressions are lasting, especially in the work force. And if you’ve just entered the work force, this fact might make you feel nervous. But that’s okay! As long as you act like a business professional, no one will doubt that you are a competent worker.

You just have to fake it till you make it. Overtime, you’ll learn more and confidence will come naturally. Until then, you can get away with acting like a professional, and here’s how to do it.

How to Act Professional Part 1: Dress for the Part

The first step to acting like a professional is to look the part. This part is easy because it simply requires you to purchase clothing, accessories, and maintenance. However, if you’re on a budget and don’t want to spend hundreds on suits, you’ll be happy to know there are affordable alternatives also.

You Need At Least One Tailored Suit that Makes You Look and Feel Like a Million Bucks

James Bond looks great because he feels great. You would feel the same way if you had a suit that hugs you in all the right places. And I’m not just talking to men. Women should also invest in a tailored pantsuit or skirt-suit.

You need a statement, power outfit for important days, say meeting with the boss, leading a meeting, and so on. Simply put, a suit is a surefire way to boost your confidence when you most need it.

Create a Business Casual Wardrobe You Can Interchange

You can’t wear a suit every day, so you need to make sure your every day, business casual outfits are also professional looking.

But don’t just buy pieces blindly. You need to be sure that every article you buy can go with different pairs of clothes. Why? You never want to wear the same outfits in the same week, as this doesn’t help your image.

Another tip is to shop smart, not less. Whenever you’re considering purchasing clothes, try to keep these criteria in mind:

  • Dark or neutral colors for pants only
  • Keep graphic designs to a minimum
  • Long sleeves, T-shirt length, and thick tank straps
  • Neutral colored sweaters, cardigans, and blazers

Remember that while these pieces may be expensive, they can last you a long time, as long as you properly maintain them.

Don’t Forget That Regular Grooming is Essential To a Professional Wardrobe

A fancy suit is only as good as the body that wears it. So, give yourself the best chance at looking good by making sure you’re well groomed. A clean shave a day keeps the five o’clock shadow away.

Regular haircuts are also crucial for a clean, professional look. When it comes to styling, keep it simple and elegant.

Accessorize Your Office Wardrobe With These Pieces

Aside from your tops and bottoms, you can also look professional with the right accessories. Paying attention to the details is, after all, what professionals do. Consider slowly adding these into your wardrobe, this way you create more variety in outfits.

Business Professional Accessories: Shoes

Dress shoes are necessary for suits, but can also be worn under khakis and trousers. Owning a pair of both brown and black leather shoes is crucial if you’re thinking of expanding your business professional wardrobe.

Now ladies, invest in shoes that are office appropriate and comfortable as well.  Heels look very professional, as long as they don’t exceed a certain heel length. Anything below 4″ is safe for the office, but if you want a comfortable heel, 3.5″ or lower is recommended.

Business Professional Accessories: Ties

Ties are great because they are an easy way to spice up basic shirts. Be careful, though, when you’re mix-and-matching two patterns. Sometimes that works, sometimes it doesn’t. Here’s an in depth guide to wearing ties the right way.

Business Professional Accessories: Jewelry

Jewelry can make any outfit look ten times more business professional. The trick is to choose pieces that are simple and sophisticated. Silver chain necklaces and bracelets with one or two pendants look professional. Small but elegant earrings are another great choice. You don’t want to wear heavy jewelry, however.

Professional Tools and Technology Worth Investing In

Being up to date with the latest tools and technology really speaks to a person’s professionalism and dedication. If you’re looking to upgrade your gear, start with these essentials first.

Business Professional Tools: Phone

Your cell phone is how to stay connected to your employer and fellow employees, so make sure you have something that’s reliable. If your job requires you to be active on your phone for a majority of the day, go to a tech store and talk with a representative. They will help you find the right phone for you.

Business Professional Tools: Laptop

A proper laptop is just as important as your phone, if not, more important. Laptops are an investment, and you should consider purchasing a laptop that will last you for years, even if it costs a lot. Cheap laptops require maintenance, and over time, that will add up. You’re better off just buying a high-quality computer that will hold up.

Business Professional Tools: Card Holder

Most people forget about this tool because they assume that the age of the business card is over. But business cards are the most convenient way to exchange contact information, in a casual way. However, you don’t want to simply jam your cards into your wallet. Instead, carry a small card holder with you, so that the next time you go for one, they’re not all over the place.

Business Professional Tools: Work Backpack or Laptop Bag

While some argue that a briefcase is the most professional way to carry your things, it’s not the most convenient. That’s why more and more business professionals today prefer a work backpack or laptop bag, instead. Both functional and stylish, professional backpacks offer optimum comfort without the bulk of a regular backpack.

How to Act Professional Part 2: Make All the Right Moves

Once you’ve got the look down, the next move is to talk, think, and behave like any other professional would.

In this section, I put together a list of positive traits and attributes you should aim to emulate at work. These are the proven best practices by the most successful professionals, so be sure to practice them whenever possible.

Best Professional Practices You Should Practice At Work

  1. Meet deadlines.
  2. Time manage properly.
  3. Complete projects.
  4. Work efficiently.
  5. Commit to your promises.
  6. Act friendly with others.
  7. Use formal language and vocabulary.
  8. Treat everyone with respect.
  9. Be humble.
  10. Engage in careful listening.
  11. Communicate with others often.
  12. Offer a helping hand.
  13. Ask questions.
  14. Keep emotions in check.
  15. Take on responsibility.
  16. Demonstrate your ambition.
  17. Set goals for yourself.
  18. Network whenever possible.
  19. Take notes when you can.
  20. Arrive on time.

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