The importance of developing professionalism, or professional development, is becoming more and more apparent to employers and employees alike. No matter where you are in your career or what industry you work in, professionalism should be a vital part of your professional persona. Professional development gives you opportunities you wouldn’t have otherwise and it helps you make the most of your skills and personality as you navigate the professional world.

Why is professionalism so important?

Professionalism is vital to a successful career, because it helps you learn how to govern your behavior in the workplace and present yourself in a professional manner to employers and coworkers. In today’s workplace, most people have some sort of degree and oftentimes similar experience. Professionalism is your opportunity to stand out among other candidates and employees. If you’ve taken professional development classes, participated in events to cultivate professionalism, or belong to some kind of professional group, you’re setting yourself up for success.

Having a strong sense of professionalism guides the way you interact with potential employers during an interview or with your peers at a networking event. First impressions are majorly important and being professional helps you convey a strong professional image when you first meet people. Ongoing professional development and a sense of professionalism helps you do your job more efficiently, puts you in a position for promotions, and gives you more professional opportunities. It provides you with a sense of confidence that you may not have found otherwise and confidence can go a long way in any industry.

How can you continue to develop it?

Many companies are focusing on the importance of professionalism, so they’re finding ways to help their employees continually develop these skills. Whether you’re already working for a company or currently looking for a job, ask if there are currently opportunities for continued professional development or offer ideas your company could implement. A common way of cultivating professionalism is taking classes, whether through your place of work or pursued on your own. Many community colleges offer short certification programs professionals can participate in or you can check out online classes, either through a college or free from some other source.

Another important aspect of developing professionalism is interacting with other professionals, in and outside of your industry. Most cities have some sort of professional networking group, either for professionals in general or for a specific industry. Often, these groups host networking events, lectures, and opportunities for volunteer work that allow you to expand your knowledge and level of professionalism.

No matter how you pursue developing professionalism, it helps your career and allows you to grow as a person. You can focus on your strengths and also identify your weaknesses. By developing a sense of professionalism and new skills, you’re investing in your career and your future.