The last 12 months we had the privilege to meet and talk with more than 200 freelance professionals in different industries for our research on this topic: What are the characteristics of professionalism? We had the chance to hear their definition for what are the main characteristics of professionalism. True professionals have a number of important characteristics that can apply to virtually any type of business.

Ethics and Honesty

In all industries the most valuable characteristics are honesty and ethics. Professionals that are honest, evenhanded and authentic tend to receive more respect both from clients and colleagues. Having these makes it easier to become a trustworthy name among your peers. To stand out for a great character is priceless and most companies value their official code of ethics more than any other skills. It is common to find a similar code of ethics in freelance professionals.

Behave Morally and Ethically


Professionals know that even if there isn’t any official book of written code of ethics in some industries, an unwritten code of ethics does exist. For serious professional there is no debate upon the matter of morality and ethics. You should display ethical behavior at all times and protect the main human rights in all costs. Presenting the best behavior, showing a respectful & lawful attitude to everyone you do business with separates the professionals from the non-professionals.

Characteristics of Professionalism

Responsibility and Dependability

Knowing that you have a person in your team where you can depend 100% to deliver any goal is a proven factor of professionalism. Acting responsibly and fair under all circumstances can impact the way other people treat you. Responsible professional earn the trust of their clients and have an open dialogue with them. Doing your job as it should be done, solves many issues and builds healthy relationships with your clients and colleagues.

Honor your words

Deliver what you promised. Do what you said. Act as if you have a sign contract for everything you have promised. As a professional, your words should be solid as a contract. Responding accordingly in all situations. Be on time, follow the schedule and deliver all your commitments.

Be Structured and Organized

There is no question about how important it is to be extremely organized and neat in your work. Stick to your monthly schedule and keep all your professional appointments to the point. Never waste your time and your client’s time!

Own your Mistakes

Experienced professionals know that they are accountable for all their actions. There will be occasions where mistakes will happen. Bite the bullet, own your mistakes, fix it of you can and move to the next step. Blaming others for your mistakes screams “unprofessionalism” from miles away!

Characteristics of Professionalism

Confidence and Commitment

The personal commitment to do any job the best way you can without any exterior pressure is by definition a sign of professionalism. A professional can perform and do his/her part of the job even if he/she is not in the mood to do it. Acting professionally means that you can perform at your very best even in a bad day.

This kind of commitment gradually builds a reputation as an excellent professional in your industry. In many cases I have meet professionals that their reputation precedes them and opens the doors when is positive. This characteristic goes with deep confidence & self respect.

Knowing that a person can cope with any challenge and learn the ropes in a blink of an eye, it gives a huge boost to personal and professional growth. When a person is driven by trust, confidence and dependability is most likely to pass these to the clients and company culture. It is no secret that confidence nurtures success and growth.

In the business world, skills are good but character and ethics are better – Areti Vassou

Characteristics of Professionalism

Be an Expert in Your Field

Invest in your continuous improvement. Becoming an expert in your field, it will need a lot of time and effort. Attend seminars, courses, workshops, read books, participate in events, engage in conversations with your industry top names and push yourself to learn more. Try to expand your skills above your preset market area and adopt in the changes. Spend time with younger people that have a new perspective for the market needs.

Characteristics of Professionalism

Good Manners Matter

To make it clear being confident doesn’t mean to be cocky. It’s a fine line that people tend to forget, quite easily. When you are interacting with other people always be polite and well-spoken.

A straight posture and a friendly smile help establish professional presence without too much effort. Professionals speak politely and make eye contact when communicating. They maintain a relaxed voice and stay calm under pressure. Especially during tough situations or when making high-pressure decisions.

Maintain your good manners when things are getting out of hand. Train yourself to keep your calm under stressful situations. Remember that real challenges unveil fake people. Body language and facial expressions can deliver unwanted messages, so be sure that you are on top of these.

Good manners apply to written communication in all forms. Emails, digital messages, comments, social media media interaction and through your business website or blog react as if you have the person in front your eyes. Find the right tone and stick to that, not too cold formal but also not too friendly.

Phone communication does have etiquette that you should respect. Never pick up the phone after working hours and bother any client for a business matter. It’s one of the most unprofessional traits that can ruin your good name in the market.

Respect people’s privacy

When you call a person always introduce yourself by your full name, company and title. Don’t be too aggressive, don’t dominate the conversation and listen the other person carefully. When they call you, return calls in a timely manner. Always follow-up on any actions you agree to during a conversation.

Characteristics of Professionalism

Dress Like a Winner

Life has teach many of us that professionalism starts from the appearance. Choose outfits that agree with your body, age and position in the industry. Proper wardrobe, hygiene and grooming are basic qualities of professionals. Be sure to meet the requirements of your industry’s dress code, and pay special attention to your appearance when meeting with clients.

Characteristics of Professionalism

Let’s wrap it up

All of the freelance professionals that participate in our research agreed to the following characteristics:

  1. You’re good at what you do
  2. People can depend on you
  3. You tell the truth
  4. You have integrity
  5. You respect others
  6. You seek out ways to improve
  7. You have an optimistic attitude
  8. You support others
  9. You separate work from personal life
  10. You listen to people

Every day, the demands are changing for all industries. But these characteristics have remained the same for decades. In the SEO & Digital Marketing field professionals are in high demand. More companies are looking for freelancers that have all the above next to the technical requirements. So be aware of the way you behave because news travel fast in our always connected world.

A good reputation takes years to build and only a second to vanish. Stay at the top of your industry not only for your good performance at work but also for your ethics. In the world of Digital Marketing, Content Creation, Blogging and SEO many companies reach out to ask me for recommendations and the first question usually is: do you trust this person?

6 Comments on “Characteristics of Professionalism

  1. Trust is the most important quality even a step ahead of skill set , if I may say so. You can learn a skill but not regaining trust is so difficult.

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