Put your best foot forward

Professionalism is a vital part of career success. It’s how you communicate, your skills, appearance, conduct and attitude. What you do and how you act in every situation - from in-person interviews and networking events to online discussions - contribute to your business reputation. Commit to being a professional from day one. Here’s how you can do it.

Communicate professionally

Speaking, listening, writing, body language - all aspects of effective communication and the foundation of business professionalism. The following are some things to keep in mind:.

No matter your method of communication, pay attention to your communication’s content and tone. Tone is especially important in emails; for example, some types of humour might not translate well in writing.

Dining etiquette

Attending a business meeting or event that involves food? Most dining etiquette rules are just common sense: always thank your host, don’t take phone calls during the meal, and don’t chew with your mouth open. If you’ve any doubts about what you should be doing, remember that etiquette is about respecting other people and acting accordingly.

Dressing the part

What you wear sends a powerful message about who you are. You want to present an image that’s professional and credible.

Most employers prefer that job candidates wear professional business suits to interviews. Some high-tech companies (e.g. Electronic Arts, Business Objects) wear more casual attire; it's still a good idea to wear a suit, but substitute the dress shirt and tie for a polo shirt instead.

For women, black suits make a more distinct impression than navy; it's more stylish and looks better with a white blouse. Men should wear no more than two patterns in their interview attire. This means that if you want to wear a solid suit, you can pair it with a patterned tie and shirt. If you have a patterned suit, you should wear either a solid shirt or a solid tie. If both your suit and shirt are patterned/pin-striped, you should wear a solid tie.

In general:

  • Match your attire to whatever the most senior individuals would wear at the place you want to work.
  • If you’re meeting with industry professionals or clients who dress professionally, you should also dress professionally in your interview.
  • If in doubt, dress business conservative.
  • If necessary, modify your attire for your second interview.

At least one day before your interview, decide what you’ll wear and prepare your outfit. This avoids last-minute problems such as a stained tie, torn nylons and unpolished shoes.

Business cards

Personal business cards are a must at networking events and job fairs, but remember to keep them with you as you never know when you will make a new contact. After all, business cards are like mini-resumes – a concrete reminder of you.

Want a UBC Sauder-branded business card? The CUS has an order form you can use. Want to design and print your own? You can search online: there are many resources online for creating your own unique business card.


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