Professionalism vs. Authenticity

Professionalism vs. Authenticity

Career changers often struggle with the balance of Professionalism vs. Authenticity. Here’s how to blend your in and out of work selves.

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This article on Professionalism vs. Authenticity is part of the Coaching Collective series, featuring tips and expertise from Flatiron School Career Coaches. Every Flatiron School graduate is eligible to receive up to 180 days of 1:1 career coaching with one of our professional coaches. This series is a glimpse of the expertise you can access during career coaching at Flatiron School. 

Most of us are familiar with the Shakespearean quote, “To be or not to be, that is the question.”  When it comes to professionalism vs. authenticity some may ask ‘Should I choose to be professional or authentic?’ Many people feel it’s an either-or situation. But it’s possible to maintain being professional in your job search and work while embracing your true self, which will ultimately lead to more significant job opportunities, job satisfaction, and success.

Professionalism vs. Authenticity: Why Is It Important?

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines being professional as “exhibiting a courteous, conscientious and generally business-like manner in your workplace.” Or to put it another way, being a professional means carrying yourself with courtesy, care, and business savvy. It’s about being considerate to others, showing diligence in your actions, and handling things with a touch of class.

Being professional builds credibility and trust among colleagues and clients, positioning you as a reliable person. By showcasing courteous and business-like behavior, you develop strong and meaningful relationships, which opens the way for successful networking, job opportunities, collaborations, and career growth. Moreover, maintaining a positive personal brand through professionalism sets you apart from the crowd, opening doors to opportunities and leaving a lasting impression on others.

At this point you may be thinking, I get it, it’s essential to be professional so I’ll “fake it” during the interview and carry that into my daily work. “Faking it” is tiring, being yourself is exhilarating. Own who you are in the interview process and carry that freedom to be yourself over into your work life (within reason, of course).

How To Blend Authenticity With Professionalism

It starts with knowing your values, strength, abilities, and personal brand.

Blending your true self with professionalism involves aligning your values, strengths, and abilities with the standards of your workplace, and finding a balance that reflects your authentic character. Embrace your unique personal brand as an asset, and show it confidently while adapting it to complement the professional environment, which will lead to your creating a powerful and genuine impression on others.

Adapt Your Communication Style

This involves tailoring your approach to resonate with different audiences, keeping in mind their preferences and needs. At the same time, add your unique personality, values, and perspectives into your interactions, creating an authentic and memorable impression that fosters real connections.

Dress With Style

Dressing to reflect your style involves selecting attire that fits your job search and workplace norms and expectations while adding subtle touches that showcase who you are. By blending professional clothing with elements that resonate with your unique taste, you show your confidence and authenticity, making a powerful statement that sets you apart stylishly and professionally.

Customize Branding Documents

Add your style to your personal branding documents by incorporating design elements, colors, or fonts that resonate with your identity. By doing so, you create a cohesive and authentic representation of yourself, leaving a lasting impression that catches your audience’s attention and sets your work apart with a touch of individuality.

Highlight Your Passions and Interests

Seek opportunities that align with your values and hobbies. Embracing your passions not only increases your motivation and enthusiasm but also allows you to bring unique perspectives and creativity to your professional opportunities, making your career journey fulfilling and rewarding.

Express Opinions Respectfully

Actively listen to others, consider their viewpoints, and communicate with empathy and open-mindedness. If you choose your words thoughtfully and focus on having a collaborative atmosphere, you create space for conversations that encourage understanding and healthy relationships.  

Professionalism + Self-Expression = Success

Finding the right balance between professionalism vs. authenticity is the key to unlocking a world of possibilities in your job search and workplace. Embracing your true self while upholding professional standards allows you to build credibility, trust, and meaningful relationships, leading to greater job opportunities, job satisfaction, and overall success. By being true to yourself and showcasing your unique qualities, you not only stand out from the crowd but also create a fulfilling and rewarding career journey that aligns with your passions and interests. So, let your authenticity shine as you navigate the professional landscape, and watch as your genuine approach moves you toward achievement and personal growth.

About Aimee Thompson

Aimee Thompson is an ICF Certified Coach with Flatiron School. Her background is in coaching, human resources, customer success, recruiting, and training and development. Her passion is partnering with her clients to help them thrive outside of their comfort zone and create a life they love.

Disclaimer: The information in this blog is current as of August 7, 2023. Current policies, offerings, procedures, and programs may differ.

About Aimee Thompson

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