By Lindsey Tolino
Have you ever had an interview or meeting coming up and found yourself staring at your closet trying to create an outfit that is professional, yet not boring?
I have. Sometimes professional can become sterile, cookie-cutter and boring. It takes a little creativity to come up with something professional, yet interesting. And I’m not talking just about clothes.
Though we may want professional work from people, we don’t want to work with robots. We want to work with people we can rely on to be professional and personable as well. Moreover, we want to be those people. We want to show we are solid at our work, but be memorable as well.
So how can we demonstrate we are professional and not be boring about it?
First, let’s look at what makes something professional. I think these are the minimum:
- Doing what you said you’d do – You can only be seen as a solid professional if you deliver on your promises.
- Expertise and an ability to communicate it – If you’re a pro, you’ve learned the language of your field. Not only should you be able to speak in the esoteric language, but you should be able to easily communicate what you do to an outsider as well.
- Clear and concise presentation of work – Your work should be organized and easily understandable because mess is the opposite of professional.
You’re likely a boss at being a professional. But maybe you get hung up, like I do, in the next area – being interesting and memorable in your work.
We want to be solid professionals, but we also want to be personable and interesting to those around us.
So how can we be more personable and interesting? Here are some ideas:
- Share stories – Being vulnerable through sharing our experiences with others can certainly make us more personable.
- References to pop culture – This could mean references to movies, TV shows, events, etc. Throw in a “you’re killing me smalls” on an email and I’ll be sure to pay attention to your next one.
- Humor – Robotic machines aren’t funny. Humor is always attractive.
- Art – This could be images, music, graphic design or even artistic writing. Showing that our work has a human touch through art makes us far more interesting and personable.
But how do you blend professional and interesting seamlessly? It can be really awkward if you just throw a joke at the end of an email or attach a link to music you like. The best way to do it is to know your audience and serve them accordingly. Here are some great real-life examples I’ve seen:
- The Skimm is an email newsletter that cleanly, concisely and humorously presents the latest news.
- A friend of mine adds hilariously fitting hashtags to the end of his work emails. He knows his audience well, so it’s a great fit.
- These redesigned resumes are beautiful examples of seamlessly marrying professional and interesting.
It can be difficult to present your work as professional, yet not boring. We may have learned to that in order to be ”professional”, we shouldn’t be seen through our work.
It’s time to bring back you to your work. Otherwise, it will be boring. Don’t edit your creativity out. Let it shine on your polished professional platform.