You’ve heard it over and over again: Be professional, be polite, be courteous. But what do these things actually mean? When it’s time to apply for a new position within Key Club, or a job outside of Key Club, knowing the answer will come in handy.

Professionalism encompasses a number of characteristics employers search for in a potential employee, including dress, articulateness and even online social media presence. Peter Vogt wrote an article on the topic of professionalism entitled, “Five Ways to Say ‘I’m Unprofessional.’” As I’m sure you can tell from the title, Vogt lists several less-than-wise ways to represent yourself.

Mistake #1: Using a cutesy email address for correspondence

While you may think using a personal email address that you think describes your personality is adorable, employers will be quite turned off, if not totally freaked out. Examples include or . Just don’t do it! And please don’t think you can get away with something like either—that’s just overeager and slightly weird. Even if you currently aren’t running for a position, you never know who might want to email you. So maintain a respectable online presence at all times.

Mistake #2: Putting a silly message on your answering machine

When we all first got cell phones, a voicemail message that went something like, “What’s up party people, not here right now, you know what to do at the beep,” might have been funny to your friends (but probably not). But these days, a standard voicemail message will suffice and will probably serve you much better. Giving people a taste of your personality won’t hurt, but imagine yourself in someone else’s shoes shoes. If you heard your own voicemail, what would you think of yourself?

Mistake #3: Submitting ANYTHING without proofreading

Even the best writers need someone to proofread and edit their work, so AFTER you have read over your essay or application (or whatever it is) multiple times, have someone else take a look at it. There is always room for improvement and you want to make sure your work represents you well and is the best it can be prior to submitting it. Sidenote: this method also might be helpful when you’re texting your crush.

Mistake #4: Failing to send thank-you notes

Similar to voicemails, you might be asking yourself, “Who actually writes thank-you letters anymore?” And the answer is not many people! This is why you will stand out from the crowd. It’s a perfect way to brand yourself as a professional, now and in the future.