This is now Part 3 in a series! If you missed Part 2, then you can find it here Part 1 is available here.
Technically, you are a professional if you are able to make a living out of whatever it is you do.
That fact alone, however, does not make you professional.
I’ve written before about the way you present yourself to potential employers. This is another way you can deny yourself an interview without even trying.
I see all sorts of documents on a daily basis that have even the most basic spelling and grammatical errors in them. In the era we live in, where almost everything is created using a computer, how hard is it to run the spellchecker if your grasp of the language is that poor? Most software also has a grammar checker, and will walk you through why it recognises your grammar as being erroneous, not just that it is so.
At an interview just the other day, I had a discussion with the interviewer over CV rejection techniques. The main cited reason I have heard for this, is poor spelling and grammar. So why do so many people continue to let themselves down over something so easily rectified?
I can sympathise that fitting in job applications around an otherwise busy and hectic life can be troublesome, and will be the first to admit that I have filled in applications well past midnight. It will come as no surprise then, to hear that I have never got an interview from one of those applications, let alone been offered the job!
How people present themselves is something that continually amazes me. From the badly spelled application, to the scruffy dressing for an interview, right through to the inappropriate language during a meeting, the lack of care and attention to detail is staggering.
If you have not put in the effort to ensure your letter is spelled correctly, or you have not felt the need to dress smartly for an interview, why should your interviewer waste his time? If you don’t seem to care, they can only assume that you will never do so.
Most people make a judgement about someone within the first 30 seconds of contact with them. If your first 30 seconds’ contact with someone is a badly spelled letter, how does that portray you?
Professionalism requires a certain amount of perfectionism. If you have no interest in getting things right, and making things the best they can be, then you would have no reason to want to portray yourself in the best possible light. The Theatre industry however, is full of such perfectionists. “The show must go on…”? Even in the face of complete failure, most backstage staff (and performers too) will continue to work right up to the curtain should they need to. And why? Because they want the show to be the best it possibly can.
Yet there is this impasse between these two worlds. If you have that passion for Theatre, and you have the attention to detail to remove that LX tape from the black leg as you walk past, then tell your potential employers! Being brilliant at your job will not (alone) get you an interview.
Being professional comes in many shapes and guises. It is ensuring you always turn up 5 minutes early. It is making sure you are dressed appropriately, and have with you what you will need. It is knowing when to keep your mouth shut. Above all else, I would argue, it is being aware of the situation around you.
Subscribe to my RSS feed here to be sure not to miss future updates! If you prefer, you can follow me on Twitter