Top Work Ethic Skills (And 4 Tips To Improve Yours)

By Jennifer Herrity

Updated May 26, 2022 | Published January 3, 2020

Updated May 26, 2022

Published January 3, 2020

Jennifer Herrity is a seasoned career services professional with 12+ years of experience in career coaching, recruiting and leadership roles with the purpose of helping others to find their best-fit jobs. She helps people navigate the job search process through one-on-one career coaching, webinars, workshops, articles and career advice videos on Indeed's YouTube channel.

Work ethic is an attribute that employers value in every industry. Showing the values associated with a good work ethic can increase your employability and help you position yourself for better job opportunities. Employees with an excellent work ethic are often considered by employers for special projects because these people are viewed as reliable, dedicated and disciplined.

In this article, we discuss what a work ethic is, its most valuable components and steps to improve yours.

Related: Top Resume Skills

Learn more about what hard skills and soft skills to put on a resume so it stands out from the others.

What is work ethic?

Work ethic is an attitude of determination and dedication toward one’s job. Those with a strong work ethic place a high value on their professional success. They exhibit moral principles that make them outstanding employees in any position.

If you have a strong work ethic, you believe in the importance of your job and typically feel that hard work is essential to maintaining a strong character.

Read more: Tips To Demonstrate Work Ethic

Work ethic characteristics

Employees with a strong work ethic exhibit a particular set of values and behaviors. These characteristics make them stand out as highly coveted team members and praise-worthy employees.


Employees with a strong work ethic are very reliable. You can expect these individuals to be on time for shifts and meetings. They meet their deadlines and offer quality work. A reliable coworker makes an excellent teammate because they contribute fairly to projects.


Part of a good work ethic is commitment and dedication to the job. They know how to focus on tasks without being distracted. These employees usually work until they finish their duties. They stay with one company for long periods.


Discipline is an essential part of showing a good work ethic. Highly disciplined employees show determination and commitment to the job. They strive to meet or exceed expectations and seek opportunities to learn new skills and improve their performance.


A strong work ethic translates to outstanding productivity. Productive employees often have a higher output than their counterparts. They complete projects early and do more than the minimum requirements.


A good work ethic is something that employees often spread to those around them by cooperating willingly on projects. They show good teamwork and readily assist others when needed.

Related: 10 Best Skills To Include on a Resume


Professional integrity means holding oneself to high moral principles. Those with a strong work ethic also have outstanding integrity. They’re honest, polite and fair to others.


Demonstrating a strong work ethic requires a keen sense of responsibility. Those who are ethical and responsible hold themselves accountable for their actions. They will accept the blame for errors they’ve contributed to and proactively work to fix these issues.


Employees with a good work ethic almost always maintain their professionalism. They exhibit a professional attitude clear in the way they dress, speak and carry themselves. They’re respectful, focused, organized and neat.

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Ways to demonstrate work ethic:

  1. Put away distractions

  2. Ask for help to identify areas for improvement

  3. Spend your time wisely on tasks that align with goals

  4. Organize your notes, inbox and workspaces for increased focus, motivation and time management

  5. Take breaks throughout the day to avoid burnout

  6. Identify motivators such as tasks, goals or colleagues

  7. Practice time management to complete quality, on-time work and be more present in meetings

How to improve work ethic skills

You can exhibit notable work ethic skills by acting professionally and dedicating yourself to the job. Try these tips to demonstrate your work ethic:

1. Act as an ambassador of the company

Maintain a positive attitude toward the company in both professional and personal interactions. Seek ways to further the business even if they’re outside the scope of your job. For example, a finance professional may pass a potential lead along to a sales representative.

2. Prioritize your professional responsibilities

Maintain good attendance, return promptly from lunch and arrive for meetings early. Strive to make personal appointments that don’t interfere with your work schedule and only take personal calls on your cell phone when you’re at lunch.

3. Seek professional development

Independently seek ways to improve your work performance, such as taking night classes, attending weekend seminars or reading industry publications.

4. Review your work

Submit thorough work that you have double-checked for quality and consistency. Manage your time properly so you can deliver projects early and give each task the time and attention it requires.

5. Show respect to others

Speak politely to and about others in the workplace. Keep your interactions professional to show your respect for others. 

Ways to highlight work ethic skills

Showing the qualities of a good work ethic can help you improve your performance in any career. Employers look for the values associated with a strong work ethic when they’re hiring or promoting employees. Employees can gain hard skills through training and education, but the soft skills associated with work ethic are more difficult to impart, so hiring managers typically look for individuals who already exhibit these qualities. Use the following tips to highlight your work ethic to prospective employers.

Work ethic skills for your resume

A strong work ethic is difficult to convey on a resume but you can emphasize some values associated with it as you describe your responsibilities in previous jobs. Highlight any instances where a previous client or employer selected you for a prestigious project or challenging task. This shows you’re trustworthy and reliable. Detail any instances where you worked overtime to meet a deadline or handle an important issue. List awards and other recognition that you have received as these show your commitment to the job.

Related: The Best Job Skills To Make Your Resume Stand Out

Work ethic skills for your cover letter

Your cover letter gives you some flexibility to discuss your work ethic in more detail. Mention skills associated with a strong work ethic, such as your dependability and discipline. Mention that you’re seeking a job that will challenge you and provide room for growth. This lets your prospective employer know that you want to work hard to do an outstanding job.

Work ethic skills for the job interview

The interview is the best place to show your work ethic. You can exhibit the essential values associated with a good work ethic throughout the interview process by:

  • Arriving promptly before the interview

  • Dressing professionally

  • Giving a firm handshake and making eye contact

  • Speaking respectfully to your interviewer

  • Responding honestly to difficult questions, such as why you’re leaving your current job

  • Providing examples of your integrity, such as an instance where you made a mistake but admitted to it and took steps to remedy the error

  • Mentioning your willingness to work long hours to get the job done

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