College Grads Lacking Professionalism In The Workplace | Come Recommended

According to a recent study called “Professionalism in the Workplace Study” my course, CEE300 – Engineering Business Practices, is not yet properly organized for professionalizing my students.  Although I certainly emphasize interpersonal and communications skills, and explicitly address ethics, CEE300 places scant attention on personal appearance, does little to teach time management (although it does expect time management).  Here’s the take-home message from the survey:

“From an HR standpoint, the most essential qualities of professionalism are listed below:

  • Interpersonal skills (33.6%)
  • Appearance (25.3%)
  • Communication skills (24.9%)
  • Time management (20.8%)
  • Confidence (20.7%)
  • Ethical (15.2%)
  • Work ethic (14.2%)
  • Knowledgeable (9.3%)”

Here’s the link to the full article that describes the main findings of the study:

College Grads Lacking Professionalism In The Workplace | Come Recommended.

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23 thoughts on “College Grads Lacking Professionalism In The Workplace | Come Recommended

  1. jonathanedgington

    These links are broken on this page:
    College Grads Lacking Professionalism In The Workplace | Come Recommended.
    “Professionalism in the Workplace Study”

    So I do not know if I missed the show or if the show has gone out of business but my take on being professional is if you have to ask then your already know the answer.

    Meaning: “if you have to ask if your dressed right then your probably not.”
    Looks matter Vanna White made more than Pat Sajak on the Wheel of Fortune !

  2. Eric Tollefson

    “Appearance” is not the same thing as “Looks” or “Attractiveness” It has nothing to do with people being attracted to you, it has everything to do with not turning anyone off. Some of these things: Bathing daily, clean shaven, clean clothes, pressed clothes, getting good rest, not looking like you pulled an all-nighter or just got home from the bar at 4:00 am. are all things I would like to think all future professionals would be aware of and practice without thought. If your appearance is shit when you walk into a meeting or interview, Id bet against you getting the contract or the job. If you don’t care, no one else will either

    1. Thomas P Seager

      You’re making an excellent point, but I think you’re downplaying attractiveness a little. When you show up as someone that is thoughtful and careful about appearance, that does make you more attractive — i.e., more pleasant to do business with.

  3. Dana Bennewitz

    Is twitter considered an appropriate form of communication in the work place? Or would that fall under excessive social media?

    1. Miriam Woolley (@mawoolle)

      I feel like twitter falls under “excessive social media” due to the fact that it limits the amount of what can be said. So, a lot has to be left out, and I think too much is left out in order to be considered as an effective form of communication. It may work for #cee300 but I find myself confused on some accounts due to the lack of information in a tweet.

  4. Sam Turner

    Appearance is important because it reflects on your work ethic and your professionalism. Humans are wired to associate a person’s appearance with their character and behavior.

      1. David

        I understand that appearing professional *is* very important in our society, but I don’t think I will ever understand *why* it is important. Appearance is arbitrary. It’s also very hypocritical of our culture to, on the one hand, remind all of us daily that things like race, sex, age, height, looks, etc. do not determine your value as a person and we should not think that way (which we shouldn’t), and yet on the other hand we remind people every day that things like clothes, hair styles, piercings, and tattoos definitely determine your value as an employee in a professional atmosphere.
        Why is that? More importantly, why *should* it be like that?

        1. Thomas P Seager

          The contrast you provide between what *should* and what *is* gives us a great example of “right” vs. “successful”.

          It may be your goal to change the world by making it safer for people with piercings, because engineers *should* not be judged by their eyebrow rings. That argument usually goes something like, “The work they do is more important than how they look when they do it.”

          Nonetheless, if it’s the work that’s really important and the engineer can be more effective in relating to collaborators without the facial jewelry, then why are they wearing the jewelry?

          One important distinction in making judgements is between who people ARE and what they CHOOSE. You seem to confuse these two when you compare things that few people can chose (e.g., age, height, gender) with things those that almost everyone can chose (e.g., clothing, hair style, piercings). They aren’t the same.

  5. Molly Hopcraft (@mollyhopcraft)

    Appearance ranks higher than communication skills? It’s hard for me to imagine a company hiring a person more-so for their looks than for their ability to communicate with others. I would think communication and interpersonal skills are the most important even though appearance is crucial as well to potential employers.

    1. Thomas P Seager

      To a large extent, all the entry level engineers can do the work. And if they couldn’t, then there are tens of thousands of engineers in other countries that can do the work for a lower wage. The question is not whether engineering firms want to hire models or engineers. The question is more like, “What can qualified engineers do to make themselves more successful?”

      The answer is that far more engineers have room for improvement in their appearance and interpersonal skills than in their analytic skills. The latter is an abundant commodity, among engineering grads. The former is scarce.

      1. jorgelgarcia7

        What more can be done in terms of appearance? There is the “cleaning up” by having a professional haircut, clean-shaven, and suit and tie, but after that, what’s left?

  6. Carter Cole (@CarterColeCee)

    Appearance is huge! An ounce of appearance is worth 10 pounds of work! I was also reading an article on professionalism and communication between employees. Email is essential for employee communication. Phone calls and texts usually are used to refer someone to an email with more information detailed inside that email. Save all of your emails if possible! They can come in handy for situations varying from memory of information to the extreme lawsuit situation.


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