Skip to main content

If your resumé, cover letter and LinkedIn profile give clues as to how you will conduct yourself at work, remember that actions speak louder than words, and by actions, we mean:

The way you correspond
The way you speak
The way you present yourself

In any professional context or interaction, these behaviours should demonstrate the three following values: respect, empathy, and integrity.


The way you correspond

Never underestimate the benefits of a considerate and polite email, whether it is to thank the recruiters after an interview, to follow up with the contacts you made at a networking event, or to reach out to professionals on LinkedIn. No matter the interaction, start with a formal greeting, introduce yourself (if necessary), explain your reason for writing, and always end by offering your kindest regards.

REMEMBER: Every email counts. The way in which you exchange information in writing with any professional contact (recruiter or not) is a direct reflection of the way you will interact with corporate clients, collaborators, funders, leads, patrons, superiors, etc.

RESPECT: Watch your grammar and spelling. (Use an app and check the name of your recipient. Always.)
EMPATHY: Extend your wishes for good health. (Ex.: “I hope this email finds you well.”)
INTEGRITY: Be honest, but kind. Always. Emails leave traces.

The way you speak

You may get to interact with people from various backgrounds who have a different view of what etiquette is. But whether you are addressing a colleague at your part-time job, an intern at a job fair, a CEO at a networking event, or the young receptionist who welcomes you for an interview, always show consideration: you NEVER know who could be assessing and judging you, or, acting as a reference later.

REMEMBER: One of the best ways to win people over in a conversation is to give them your FULL attention. A kind smile and good eye contact don’t hurt either.

RESPECT: Address people formally until they invite you to do so more casually.
EMPATHY: Inquire about your recipient’s feelings. (Ex.: “I hope you are enjoying the event.”; “Has your team been teleworking due to the pandemic?”)
INTEGRITY: Never engage in gossip. If you HAVE to, say something positive. Walls have ears.

The way you present yourself

Did you know?
30 seconds: the time it takes for another individual to make an assumption about you
93%: how much people judge you based on non-verbal cues like appearance, body language, grooming, and posture.*

REMEMBER: The way you dress and groom and carry yourself demonstrate not only your mindfulness of an employer’s rules, but also your consideration for all the people you – currently or will – work with, whether it be customers, colleagues or superiors. As stated by author, motivational speaker and entrepreneur Bianca Frazier: “Dress the way you want to be addressed.”

RESPECT: Respect the workplace’s rules for attire as much as you want people to respect your skills in your field.
EMPATHY: Present yourself in a way that inspires trust and safety in others. Put yourself in their shoes.
INTEGRITY: When in doubt, err on the side of caution and ask around to be sure. In any case, dress and groom for your body shape and size: you can’t project confidence et credibility if you are uncomfortable.


Learn more
Dressing the part: 5 common myths about “professional attire”
Like a boss: five bad habits that might be holding you back professionally
Dressing the part: the elusive notion of business casual dressing


Talk to an expert
For any advice on how to polish up your professional image, book an individual appointment with one of the Telfer Career Centre relationship managers through Career Launch.

© 2024 Telfer School of Management, University of Ottawa
Policies  |  Emergency Info

alert icon