How To Boost Your Credibility as a Young Professional

February 23, 2015

How To Boost Your Credibility as a Young Professional

As anyone fresh out of college will tell you, it’s hard to get a job in today’s market. But what’s even harder? Proving that you deserved to land the gig. As a young professional, your youth can work against you.

It’s important to understand how this happens and what you can do about it.

To earn credibility, you have to first understand what it is. The dictionary lists it as “the quality of being believed or accepted as true, real, or honest.”

So how can you become that “real, true, and honest” employee?

Dress the Part

When you interviewed with your company, I doubt you wore anything less than your best business attire. So why would you show up to work in the same sweats and t-shirt you’d wear on Sunday morning?

The saying, “dress for the job you want” rings true. Dressing too casually can hinder your performance, not help it. Being comfortable is great, but feeling put together can improve focus, boosting your productivity. Dress like you’re going to work, not like you’re running weekend errands.

I’m not telling you to dress like a Fortune 500 CEO (unless that’s your job). Embrace and dress for your company’s culture. If it’s casual, try dressing up your normal jeans and t-shirt with an accessory, or a new shirt or sweater.

Luckily, eZanga is super laid-back, but my outfit is just a little dressier than what some of my co-workers wear.

When all else fails, scope out what the bosses and managers are wearing. They’re the people whose positions you want one day, right? Dress like a boss, to get in the “boss” state of mind.

Social Spring Cleaning

It’s time to freshen up your social media. Your pictures and online persona are a representation of who you are. What do yours say?

The first thing you should do is delete those party photos from college. Then write bios that align with your professional brand. It doesn’t matter how private you think your profiles are. If it’s online, someone can see it. The delete button is your friend.

If you don’t want to delete content on your pages, or just want to lead a double-life, then separate your accounts. This is good for people who want to network and upload Friday night photos.

For example, I have a personal Twitter account and my eZanga account. That way, each audience sees the content I want them to see. There’s some overlap in followers, but it lets me express myself on each in a way that I’m comfortable with. If you want to be extra careful, set that personal Twitter to ‘private.’ That way, you control who sees what.

If you can, invest in a headshot for your professional profiles. Try to have a photographer take it. If that’s not an option, ask a friend or colleague to take a professional-looking photo of you. Or use a picture of yourself engaging in a hobby. This gives people a better sense of your personality. It also looks a lot more professional than your car selfie.

Build a Professional Online Persona

Before I continue, I want to clarify that I’m not saying, “delete your social media.” I’m saying use it to your advantage.

If you’re interested in a specific industry, share that online. Start sharing posts you’ve read or written on social media. Especially the profiles you plan to use professionally: think LinkedIn, Twitter, and Google+.

Speaking of LinkedIn, it’s a great platform to showcase your skills and projects. Update it often, with relevant content. This is the one place online where it’s okay to show off (to an extent). Share your professional achievements, like a new promotion or project that you’re proud of. Avoid selfies and funny gifs. Those are for your Facebook friends.

Don’t forget to complete your LinkedIn page. It’s your gateway to networking. You don’t want to look like you aren’t trying, do you? A complete profile lets people see what you’re about and what you have to offer.

Building your own online portfolio is another great way to show you’re a serious professional. eZanga’s Brittany Berger not only writes for our website, but she has a marketing and PR blog of her own. This shows others in the industry that she knows what she’s doing, can back it up, and has a genuine interest in marketing.

It’s All About Networking!

I can’t say this enough: network, network, and network. If you can get out in the world and meet other YoPros, don’t be shy. These relationships open doors to new opportunities and broaden your horizons.

Don’t just leave the relationship at the event; always keep in touch. Building a strong relationship with clients and vendors can lead to other opportunities down the line.

Check in with your contacts from time to time, even if it’s just to say hello. Social media’s a great way to keep up with your colleagues. You can congratulate them on that new position, or just drop them a line. This will keep your name fresh in their minds.

Just Do It

Never tell your boss, “that’s not my job.” Everything is everyone’s job. Little things like taking out the trash help keep a company running and maintain a good working environment.

So if someone asks you to do something, just do it. Doing a favor for someone will never make you look bad. In fact, I guarantee it’ll make co-workers see you as a team player, and someone they want on their team for the long haul.

Follow these guidelines, and there’s no way your co-workers won’t think you’re the bee’s knees.

Do you have any tips for today’s YoPros in your industry? Leave your best tip in the comments below.

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