Professional Office Skills Every College Student Needs to Master Now (Part Two)
In our last blog, we talked about the importance of mastering professional office skills that will get you noticed and keep you on track when you begin your professional life after college. As noted, there are a lot of things that you will learn during your four years at the University of Arizona which will make you a stand-out competitor in the working world. There are also other skills which you can’t learn in a classroom, but which are equally valuable to your employment success and should be practiced before you graduate.
Previously, we discussed the importance of time management and scheduling, how to do research in a professional work setting, and how to keep your computer files organized so that you never have to question the location of important documents on your computer (and stop wasting time searching for them too).
There are two more expert office skills which every student should try to master now, regardless of their professional goals.
You have likely already slung the murky waters of writing at the University of Arizona, from tackling papers about biology to writing lengthy emails to your professors that keep you in their good graces. Business writing, however, is an entirely different creature.
Business writing can include memos, promotional copy, grant proposals, client and customer emails, training documents, visual and oral presentations, and a host of other business-specific types of writing.
Business writing is a type of communication which is specific to your professional environment. The biggest hurdle that many newcomers to the business world have with learning how to communicate in a professional manner is leaving behind a social networking mindset.
The use of internet slang in place of actual words, overfamiliarity with colleagues, bosses, and clients, haphazard formatting, and thoughtless language all point to a new employee who has a lot of growing up to do.
It doesn’t take much to get the hang of business writing, but you will definitely want to make sure that you already know how to do it from the moment you begin your new career. Practice your know-how in future emails, start changing the ways which you communicate with different types of people in your life, and work on preparing communication that is clear, convincing, and gives you an air of authority.
You might be surprised just how professional you will feel just by changing the way in which you write with an audience in mind.
Digital Workplace Etiquette
Like business writing, digital office etiquette will be specific to your workplace. There are a lot of different types of office environments, and you will not really be able to know how laid back or strict yours will be until you begin working.
In some more relaxed office environments, communication tools like Google Hangouts, IM chats, and Slack are utilized to keep the lines of communication open between employees. Rather than being seen as time-wasting apps, these dedicated messaging tools are in use to encourage open and instantaneous office discussions.
These communication tools allow everyone to throw out ideas, discuss and report the status of ongoing projects, and get to know one another better in the context of the office. They are not private and should not be a place to avoid doing your work.
Workplace etiquette calls for communication over chats to be professional and not personal in nature. To keep it professional, avoid slang, potentially offensive subjects, and be aware of who is a part of your chat.
Most of all, know that companies can keep records of office communications for years, so learning how to be professional even during casual chatting is a skill that you can work on now.
When it comes to email, all interoffice email and communications to clients and customers should be formal. Keeping your business writing professional means avoiding offensive terms and slang, name-calling (and other types of comments about your co-workers and bosses), and maintaining your email communications in an organized fashion.
One of the quickest ways to get your coworkers aggravated is to change or ignore existing digital organization methods. Office etiquette dictates that you make a concerted effort to maintain the systems that are in place.
If files are organized or labeled in specific ways, be sure that you keep the system going. Mislabeling, errant files stored in incorrect folders, and general mismanagement of shared digital office storage documents will make you appear to be not only disorganized but also careless and rude.
You can practice basic workplace etiquette now by using professional methods of communication during group projects and activities for some of your classes.
There are a lot of ways in which you can prepare yourself for your future career, but by mastering some basic professional office skills now, you will be ahead of the game. Being a professional goes well beyond the work that you produce. It means being a good employee, coworker, and client manager who can communicate effectively, manage their time and files like a pro, and exhibit a clear understanding of office etiquette. Combining these professional office skills with your work ethic and expertise in the field will undoubtedly help you make a great first impression in the workplace.