Work ethic is a valuable trait that many employers look for in a candidate. Demonstrating the values associated with a good work ethic can increase your marketability and help you find better job opportunities.
In this article, we discuss what work ethic is, why it's important, characteristics associated with a solid work ethic and how to demonstrate your work ethic to your employer.
What is a good work ethic?
Work ethic refers to how you feel about your career or job. It determines your attitude and motivation towards the task at hand. It acts as an indicator of how you will perform the duties and responsibilities that come with your job. It also influences how you treat and interact with your co-workers and clients.
Work ethic represents key characteristics that you may have, including accountability, humility, integrity and honesty. These traits often shape how you approach a situation, especially a challenge that impacts your work. The way you react or respond reveals the kind of work ethic you have.
Why is it important to have a strong work ethic?
Your work ethic is closely tied to your professional identity. It impacts the way employers think about you and influences your ability to move up the corporate ladder.
Recruiters often hire individuals that demonstrate a solid work ethic. Employers also reward this characteristic with fast-track promotions and greater job responsibility. It is an important leadership quality that will serve you throughout the span of your career.
From a company's point of view, a strong work ethic helps the productivity and therefore, profitability of a business. Hardworking and motivated employees contribute greatly to the attainment of the company's vision, mission and goals.
Characteristics of a good work ethic
Here are key characteristics that indicate a solid work ethic:
Integrity means doing what is right at all times, even if your manager or co-workers aren't watching. Conducting business with integrity builds and maintains lasting professional relationships and forms the basis of trust. Demonstrating that you are a trustworthy employee opens you up to greater opportunities that will help you grow in your career aspirations.
Professionalism is a broad term that covers everything from your physical appearance to how you conduct yourself in front of other people. It's so broad that many people go so far as to say that professionalism equates to having a strong work ethic.
Emphasis on the quality of work
If you demonstrate commitment and dedication to deliver outstanding results in your work, then your work ethic definitely will stand out. Employees who perform beyond the expectations of their role and strive to consistently improve gain recognition from their co-workers and clients. Key stakeholders often look out for these employees to mentor them for future leadership positions.
Work ethic comes from within. A disciplined employee will prioritise work and effectively manage time to complete projects within the set deadline. A workforce with a strong work ethic encourages productivity. It is an internal quality that requires consistent effort from you.
Sense of teamwork
As an employee, you are one component of a larger organisation. This means part of your job will require you to work with other employees.
A good work ethic will help you maintain productive relationships with other co-workers. It will help the team remain focused on their goals and take accountability when issues arise.
Sense of responsibility
When you are hired for a job, you will be expected to take responsibility of your duties. If you have a solid work ethic, you should make it a priority to perform your responsibilities to the best of your ability. A valuable worker continuously delivers results.
How to demonstrate a solid work ethic to your employer
Here are steps you can take to show your employer or manager that you have a good work ethic:
1. Act as the company's ambassador
Maintain a positive attitude towards the company during both personal and professional interactions. Look for ways to help the company grow, even if it's beyond the scope of your job. For instance, if you are a finance professional, you may pass a potential lead along to your company's sales representative.
2. Prioritise your professional responsibilities
Arrive for meetings early, return promptly from lunch and maintain good attendance. Make sure your personal appointments do not affect your work schedule and only take personal calls when you are at lunch.
3. Seek professional development
Independently look for ways to improve your work performance, such as reading industry publications, attending weekend seminars and taking night classes.
4. Review your work
Deliver thorough work that you have double-checked for consistency and quality. Companies want employees who care about the quality of their work and go beyond what is expected of them. An employee who is committed to delivering high-quality work is an employee worth keeping.
5. Manage your time wisely
Manage your time wisely so you can deliver projects on time and give each task the attention and time it requires. Create your own timetable to keep track of tasks. This allows you to prioritise your work better. It can help you avoid distractions and deal with potential delays in advance.
6. Always show respect
Choose your words carefully to cultivate a harmonious work environment. Listen to alternative opinions. Even if you might not completely agree with an idea, allowing a person to express themselves is a sign of respect.
7. Follow company policy
Read your organisation's employee handbook to understand the regulations, rules and policies that you must abide by. Make it a point to review it and understand the finer points.
Acting in accordance to the values of your company will show your commitment and dedication to doing good in your job while adhering to the rules.
8. Be cooperative
Cooperation plays an integral role in a company. Even if you have personal differences in opinion with your co-workers, you should still be able to work together and cooperate with them. Set aside those differences for the greater good of the organisational goals. Your employer will appreciate your professionalism.
Tips to demonstrate your work ethic
Here are a few tips to highlight your work ethic to potential employers:
Showing your good work ethic in a CV
A strong work ethic can be difficult to convey on a resume, but you can highlight some values associated with it as you describe your duties and responsibilities in your previous roles. Emphasise any instances where your previous employer or client chose you for a challenging task or prestigious project. This shows you are reliable and trustworthy.
You can also mention any instances where you worked beyond normal working hours to handle an important issue or meet a deadline. Consider listing awards and other noteworthy recognitions that you have received, as these demonstrate your commitment to your job.
Showing your good work ethic in a cover letter
Your cover letter provides you with some flexibility to discuss your work ethic in more detail. You can mention that you are looking for a job that will challenge you and provide you with advancement opportunities. This lets your potential employer know that you want to work hard to provide outstanding results.
Related: How to Format a Cover Letter
Talking about your work ethic during a job interview
Here are a few examples how you can show a strong work ethic during the interview process:
- Dress professionally
- Arrive at least an hour before the interview
- Speak with respect to the hiring manager
- Make eye contact and give them a firm handshake
- Provide an instance where you demonstrated your integrity
- Provide an honest answer to difficult questions, such as why you are resigning from your current position
- Emphasise your willingness to work long hours to complete the tasks assigned to you on time