Professional Employees: What Are They? How Do I Become One?

What it inferred by the word “professional”?  Does it mean to dress in boring, conservative attire when interviewing or going to work? Does it mean to be on your best behavior, to act mature and all businesslike?

According to Merriam-Webster, professional means this: (1) to be characterized by or conforming to the technical or ethical standards of a profession or (2) exhibiting a courteous, conscientious, and generally businesslike manner in the workplace.

According to Merriam-Webster, professional means this: (1) to be characterized by or conforming to the technical or ethical standards of a profession or (2) exhibiting a courteous, conscientious, and generally businesslike manner in the workplace.

So, being professional refers to the projection of a businesslike manner, adhering to both the technical and ethical standards of a given position, and producing behavior that reveals a mindful consideration of others. Now we know. However, based on my experiences in the staffing industry, many job-seekers tend not to fully understand all that is implied by this word - professional.

Below is a breakdown of what it might mean when someone calls a person a true professional, a job a professional position, or a staffing company a professional placement agency.

Areas of consideration are categorized below with questions to ponder as you consider your current level of professionalism and seek to move forward in a successful career:


Blogs about professional dress code, first impressions, overall appearance and behavior for job interviews are abundant and can provide you with much insight. 

Blogs about professional dress code, first impressions, overall appearance and behavior for job interviews are abundant and can provide you with much insight. 

In part, projecting a businesslike manner pertains to one's choice of makeup, clothing, shoes, and jewelry, your demeanor, smile, body language and posture, and even the amount of perfume or cologne worn as well as revealed tattoos, piercings, etc.

  • Do you think that you present an overall professional image in the workplace?
  • What are employers’ first impressions of you when you show up for an interview?
  • Do you think you might need to do something differently in the future?


One’s professional reputation is determined by both behavior and character, both of which speak loudly to your co-workers and management.


Respectful in Speech, Interactions, Looks, Emotions and Reactions:

  • Do you treat your co-workers with the same level of respect in which you treat your boss?
  • Are your words true, kind, accommodating, generous, friendly, thoughtful, positive and encouraging?
  • Are you aware of how professionally you speak, look, act and react to others, especially when you are stressed, busy or dealing with a major problem? Is there room for improvement?
  • Do people find you approachable because of the respect you show them in all your interactions? When you treat others with real respect, you tend to earn the respect of others which goes a long way in the workplace!


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  • Do you have an established set of principles for living? Do pre-determined values exist for how you will or will not choose to behave at the office?
  • Are you open, honest, and even transparent when it comes to your work?
  • Are you accountable and willing to accept personal responsibility for your mistakes and shortcomings?



  • Are you a man or woman of your word, committed to your tasks, and consistent day in/day out?
  • Do others trust you to get things done? Do you finish what you start and have a method for prioritizing those tasks?
  • Are you the go-to person in your office?
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  • Are you a worker, a thinker, a problem-solver?
  • What is your level of competency? Do you have the skills and knowledge needed to do all that the job requires? Does your resume convey your competency?
  • Do you meet and usually exceed expectations – always striving for improvement and excellence in what you offer to others?
  • Do you maintain a posture of wanting to learn and improve both yourself and your skills?


  • Do you practice speaking with good grammar and vocabulary?
  • Do you have the written communication skills to go along with those verbal abilities?
  • Do you choose your words carefully and avoid inappropriate language at work (especially when handling a challenging situation/client or even when taking a personal call)?
  • Do you participate in office gossip, or do you stay as far away from it as you can get?
  • Are you perusing social media sites, texting or talking on your cellphone too much? Do you keep it at your fingertips during office hours?
  • Do you have a reputation for talking too much? Do people make up excuses just to get away from you? You want to be friendly, but learn the art of brevity . . . be brief, be bright, and be gone. 
  • Do you understand the boundaries of the workplace and the need to stay focused on work? Private relationships and shared personal confidences can get out of hand quickly if one is not intentional about pursuing those primarily during breaks and after work hours.
  • Can you keep confidential information as private as it is intended to be?
  • Do you keep your emotional issues at bay while at work, or do you feel the need to talk incessantly about them to your co-workers?


  • Do you have a motivation to shine, be the change, make a positive difference and to work for the benefit of the greater good?
  • Do you volunteer often, give your best, and have that do-whatever-it-takes attitude?
  • Do you strive to work smarter, initiate new approaches, and understand new technologies and methods in the workplace?
  • Do you take ownership of your role and work hard to accomplish great things?
  • Do you also wisely and instinctively know when to back off or away from something which you strongly desire to initiate - because the timing is just not right or because additional groundwork is needed before moving forward?
  • Are you inclusive in your business relationships and embracing diversity in the workplace? Everyone wants to feel a part of the team, so do your part to build a strong one where each person has an important role to play.
  • In your competitiveness, do you jump ahead, whatever the cost, and leave all those other potential movers and shakers trailing behind you? Or do you include and support them, building a great team? Good leaders build other good leaders, always keeping the future in mind.
  • In your conversations, do you ask good questions and show curiosity regarding others’ interests and endeavors?
  • Are you comfortable meeting with others and networking?

There are a few other tell-tale signs of a professional employee as well:

  • One’s ability to respond maturely and to maintain a positive attitude when dealing with conflicts and problems, both personal and those involving others in the workplace
  • One’s successful approach to finding that work/life balance and setting the example for others
  • One’s general demeanor of humility, kindness, sincerity and the ability to interact well with most everyone in the workplace
  • One’s knack for incorporating wit and humor in the workplace
  • One’s ability to accomplish great things while keeping his/her integrity and reputation in tact
  • Others’ first impression is that of professional respect
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Glancing over these defining aspects of professionalism, one realizes that this is an ideal characterization of a perfectly professional person. However, for the label to ring true, the imperfections of any professional must be heavily outweighed by the successful overall display of professional qualities that the individual has practiced and perfected over time. 

Developing your own level of professionalism can, in turn, increase your self-worth as well as your value to current and future employers.

For help in finding a professional position or hiring a professional job candidate, contact a recruiter at Brannon Professionals today.



Here Are 4 Great Advantages of Behavioral Interviewing

Job interviews are crucial aspects of the hiring process, often giving an interviewer a better, more well-rounded view of what a prospective candidate would be like in the position.  One way to get the most out of job interviews and glean the most pertinent information from them is to focus on a strategy that uses "situational" questions that give the candidate an opportunity to describe HOW they may handle a situation.  


The strategic style of behavioral interviewing focuses on the candidate's past behavior by asking questions that lead to specific, concrete examples of how they would act or react in certain situations.

An example of a behavioral interview question is "Can you tell me about a time when a customer was unhappy and what you did to resolve the problem?" This type of open-ended question can give you a much clearer impression of the candidate and how they would behave in common workplace scenarios, while also giving you a chance to ask detailed follow-up questions.

Here are 4 major benefits of behavioral interviewing: 

1) Provides Real Life Examples

Anyone can say on a resume that they have great time management skills, remain calm under pressure, or have leadership potential. One of the best things about behavioral interviewing is that it pushes job candidates to go beyond the resume and job interview clichés (which may or may not mean anything) and provide solid, concrete, real life examples of their previous job experience.

For example, if the job you're staffing is an office manager who must wear many different hats and manage multiple projects simultaneously, your behavioral interview questions will help you see if someone has experience in a similar role and how they handle jumping from one task to another. Behavioral interviewing questions help you get past vague generalities to see exactly what your candidates have accomplished in previous roles and what they are therefore capable of.

2) Easily Customized

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Traditional interview questions like "What are your strengths and weaknesses?" often have little to do with your actual company, workplace culture, or the open position.

On the other hand, behavioral interview questions can be tailored and customized. For example, if hiring for a sales role, you can ask a specific and customized question that fits the actual role you're hiring for, like "Tell me about a time you overcame objectives to close a difficult sale."

3) Matches Employees to the Right Job

Sometimes candidates have great skills and work histories but are simply not the best match for a specific job. Behavioral interview questions help you see beyond the things you instinctively like about a candidate to more useful and solid details about their experience.

Someone may be very nice and have done well in positions where they worked in a team environment, but you are hiring them for a position with a great deal of autonomy and time spent working alone. Behavioral interview questions will give you a very clear idea of whether they would be able to thrive in that type of work environment. 

4) More Comfortable for Job Candidates

Not everyone interviews well. Some great candidates who would be excellent employees simply get too nervous during interviews to show themselves in the best light. Behavioral interviewing questions tend to make candidates less nervous since the focus is on telling a story and providing specific examples instead of a more vague emphasis on making themselves look good.

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Behavioral interview questions can be especially effective when interviewing a more anxious or introverted candidate, since this style of question helps get them out of their own head and helps them focus on specific experiences and skills.

As you can see, behavioral interviewing can help ensure you get the best possible employees, which is why it's one of the techniques we use at Brannon Professionals. To learn more about how we can streamline your staffing needs and help you snag the best talent, contact us anytime.




9 Hiring Best Practices to Attract High Quality Employees

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With 46% of employees projected to fail within the first 18 months on the job, employers face a critical task of revamping their hiring practices. Employers cannot afford to rush through the hiring process and must carefully assess a job candidate’s work history and interview behavior.

Below are 9 hiring best practices designed to help your business attract employees who will bring productivity and longevity to your business. 

1) Do not underestimate the power of sharp interpersonal skills.

When researchers examined the reasons behind the 46% failure rate of new employees, they found that poor interpersonal skills were responsible for the majority of disciplinary actions or firings of new employees. Specifically, most employees failed due to an inability to properly manage their emotions or gracefully accept feedback at work. Others failed because they exhibited low motivation and poor temperament. Accordingly, hiring managers should seek employees with a positive attitude.

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2) Remove dangerous candidates from consideration with a background check. 

Candidates with a history of violence, substance abuse or threatening behavior can often be removed from job consideration with the help of a background check. Background checks are also helpful in identifying candidates with a history of dishonesty or workplace theft.

3) Contact the references provided by job candidates. 

Some hiring managers get busy and make the mistake of skipping this important step in the hiring process. References should be contacted because they can provide valuable feedback about an applicant’s demeanor and problem-solving approach.

4) Use personality tests or job screening tools when appropriate.

Personality tests and screening tools are helpful because they offer an element of standardization to the interview process. Examples include 12 Driving Forces (measures attitude and motivation) and DISC (measures behavioral style). Results of screening tools should be interpreted with caution and should always be considered in conjunction with other factors such as the candidate’s interview behavior, skills, and work history.

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5) Be cautious of applicants with a track record of job hopping. 

Job candidates who have never stayed with the same employer for over a year can be costly to a company. Pay close attention to a candidate’s job history and ask the candidate to briefly explain any rapid succession of jobs.

6) Consider rehiring previous employees who were top performers. 

Boomerang employees, or workers who return to a former employer after voluntarily leaving, are increasing in prevalence. Boomerang employees require minimal training resources because they are already familiar with a company’s culture, job descriptions and mission. They can typically hit the ground running right away.

7) During the interview, look for nonverbal clues about a candidate’s work behavior. 


Nonverbal behaviors during an interview are often good predictors of a person’s behaviors in the workplace. For instance, was the candidate early or late for his or her interview? Did he or she dress appropriately for the interview? Was eye contact maintained, or did the interviewee seem distracted or uninterested in talking about your company?

8) Clearly document the reasons why rejected candidates were not selected. 

Sometimes hiring managers become so preoccupied with the hiring process that they forget to document the details related to the candidates who were not selected. From a compliance standpoint, it is just as important to document reasons that a candidate does not receive an offer as it is to maintain documentation related to the hiring of a candidate.

9) Enlist the guidance of an experienced talent management firm. 

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Please contact us to learn more about hiring best practices and how you can avoid losing nearly half of your new employees within 18 months. Our professional team of talent experts has the strategies and cutting edge tools to help your company succeed in the hiring arena. We look forward to helping you hire top performers at your company!

Millennial Recruiting and Retention Strategies

Millennials make up approximately 50% of the U.S. workforce.

Millennials make up approximately 50% of the U.S. workforce.

Research shows that there are approximately 83 million millennials who represent over 25% of the country’s population. About 75% percent of millennials share content online, and they make up almost half of the U.S. workforce. HR professionals who want to keep staffing levels stable and their departments functioning smoothly will benefit from knowing how to successfully recruit and retain the millennial generation.

Digital Content and Strategy

Videos allow users to visually experience content in visually stimulating ways.

Videos allow users to visually experience content in visually stimulating ways.

Millennials are an online generation who prefer and rely on social media, visual content and digital narratives. The Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM) states that videos are an excellent way to illustrate the employment brand because they tell potential applicants about the job, business culture, company history and corporate values.

Many companies also use brief job tours, employee interviews and company introductions to engage and attract millennial candidates. Millennials appreciate teamwork, innovation, and honesty, so videos are an excellent tool to showcase these values and offer inspiration.

Talent vs. Skill Searches

Companies may soon prefer to hire people with very specific skills and backgrounds for short and as-needed work projects.

Companies may soon prefer to hire people with very specific skills and backgrounds for short and as-needed work projects.

Employment opportunities and their associated qualifications will continue to evolve as society and technology change. The traditional career model focuses on long-term employees achieving sequential promotions, but many job hunters are developing highly portable and transferable skills sets that offer better value to employers.

Online crowd-sourcing is changing how businesses are funded and staffed. For example, Guru boasts 1.5 million members around the globe who have completed 1 million jobs. Websites like Freelancer offer jobs in everything from digital design to mobile computing to product sourcing.

Knowledge Transfer and Management

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Not all millennials are tech wizards, just like not all baby boomers are resistant to change and technology challenged. In fact, many professional baby boomers have advanced technical and organizational knowledge in their areas of expertise.

Gallup, which is one of the leading authorities in business statistics, recommends that organizations study the top talent, conduct experience interviews and establish inter-generational partnerships and knowledge management systems.

Communication and information sharing preferences are changing. For example, the use of internal email is being replaced by instant messaging apps and popular project management platforms like Trello, Asana and Basecamp.

Recycling Employees

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Failing to adjust communication methods and extract the knowledge of senior high-performers will weaken the company’s competitive advantage. However, failing to properly manage employee poaching and chronic turnover will also harm companies in certain industries like the tech sector

More and more technology-focused employees are changing jobs based on their current situations; thus, they may reapply to work for former employers. Instead of focusing on loyalty and control, companies should embrace recycled hires and take advantage of their insider knowledge.

Recruiting Marketing 101

Recruiting teams and HR professionals must supply organizations with workers for both permanent and project-based positions. They must constantly attract and engage new candidates by screening them for talent and then moving them through talent pipelines and the hiring process.

HR recruiters will need to adopt a social recruiting approach that uses innovative solutions, such as staffing firms, to increase their talent acquisition success rates. Many are using the best practices of applied marketing to find, nurture and persuade talent. HR professionals who adopt engaging and informative recruitment marketing methods will likely enjoy more individual success and contribute to organizational success.


In summary, recruiting and retaining millennials will increasingly require HR managers to take a social recruiting approach. So, what strategies are most important?

  • Cultivating inter-generational work relationships
  • Utilizing visually stimulating and informative company videos
  • Conducting experience-based interviews and job/office tours
  • Creating skills-based hiring opportunities
  • Taking advantage of current technological trends
  • Partnering with a professional headhunter and/or employment agency
  • Willingness to rehire talented albeit recycled employees
  • Using the best practices of applied marketing

These recruiting and retention strategies and solutions can help your company achieve success with the millennial generation. To speak with a professional recruiter today, please contact Brannon Professionals at 662-349-9194.


4 Ways to Improve Your Interview Process and Results  

Entrepreneur magazine states that recruiting and hiring a new employee can cost around $4,000. This will be higher for technical, specialty, managerial and professional positions.

Weighing the costs of hiring . . . . 

Weighing the costs of hiring . . . . 

Staffing a company is a difficult process because it involves on-going screening, interviewing and communicating. However, the good news is that HR professionals can reduce costs, minimize turnover rates and streamline their interview process by following the tips below.

The Application

Businesses should be careful to avoid application questions that can unlawfully discriminate against job seekers.

Businesses should be careful to avoid application questions that can unlawfully discriminate against job seekers.

The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) states that organizations must carefully select application questions in order to avoid EEOC violations and discrimination complaints. However, there are always legal exceptions for job safety or efficiency, such as the bona fide occupational qualification (BFOQ) clause. This means that public safety agencies may implement age cut-offs for jobs and that gyms may only hire females to work as women’s locker room attendants. Applications may inquire about military discharge status, but it is not advised because the Uniform Services Employment Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) protects veterans against discrimination. Requiring applicants to disclose employment gaps is a safe way to indirectly find out about potential criminal history.

Background Checks

Be aware that class-action lawsuits for Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) violations are on the rise. Improperly conducted background checks may contain both false positive and negative allegations that misrepresent a job candidate’s background. Background checks cannot be conducted without written permission. Most states require employers to inform job applicants through disclosure forms and fact sheets.

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Some states require employers who do not hire applicants based on specific background check results to release the name of the company that conducted the check or allow job applicants to request a copy of their report. The FCRA has decreed that background checks may include credit, criminal, driving, property and associate histories. After seven years, tax, court and arrest records may be out of bounds.

Actively Engage Job Candidates

Brannon Professionals utilizes computerized testing to assess applicants' skills.

Brannon Professionals utilizes computerized testing to assess applicants' skills.

There are many rules that restrict topics and questions, but there are no rules against performance-based interview tests. This is one of the best ways to separate the unqualified, mediocre and high-performing candidates. The safest way is through standardized tests, such as explaining how to solve a technical problem or performing a work task like creating a simple spreadsheet.

Asking predictable questions in the comfort of an office breeds complacency and false impressions, so some HR professionals conclude second interviews with final candidates through an informal tour of the facility. This is the best chance to see how job applicants interact with the environment, socialize with potential co-workers and ask intelligent questions about the company.

Professional References

The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) states that reference checking should be used to verify information, predict job success and uncover background information. Behavioral consistency of past performance is an excellent risk management technique.

It’s best to check references after the interview; otherwise, it may create inaccurate expectations and affect the interpretation of objective qualifications. Always ask permission to talk with the current supervisor and past supervisors not listed. It’s best to use a standard questionnaire and set of job-related questions for legal documentation. Similar to interview questions, questions should focus on job competencies and work performance.

Many organizations train supervisors and HR managers never to provide references because of lawsuit concerns, so take advantage of receptionists and employees who are willing to talk.

First interviews are necessary, but it is often the second interview which determines if the candidate will truly be a good fit with an organization.

First interviews are necessary, but it is often the second interview which determines if the candidate will truly be a good fit with an organization.

It is best to follow the HR recommended practice of using objective and documented rating systems for interviews and final hiring decisions. However, valuable clues and informal information can be gleaned from the impressions of supervisors and coworkers who spoke with and interacted with the job applicant. Finally, hosting a second interview involving a supervisor or manager can help further clarify if the individual will be a good fit for your team and business culture.

For assistance in locating the perfect fit for your office, contact Brannon Professionals today at 662-349-9194.