Work Ethic/Professionalism

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Work Ethic/Professionalism

Work Ethic/Professionalism is demonstrating integrity, resilience, accountability and ethical behavior. It's the ability to take initiative and maintain effective work habits (prioritize, plan, and manage work; punctuality) to produce high quality results. With this competency, one should project a professional presence and understand the impact of non-verbal communication.

Assessing Your Level of Competency

Graduate School is a time to identify ways that you naturally demonstrate professionalism when working with others individually and in groups to allow you to understand where you can grow in  this competency. Ask yourself the following questions to dive deep into your self-assessment:

  • Do I have an understanding of business etiquette (e.g. replying to emails and requests in a timely manner, avoiding gossip and excessive negativity etc.)
  • Am I aware of professional dress requirements?
  • Do I have a professional resume completed?
  • Do I know how to write professional job search correspondences?
  • Do I have quality professional references?
  • Am I aware of my personal branding?
  • Is my LinkedIn and social media presence (e.g. Twitter, Facebook) professional or do I need to reassess my online presence?
  • Am I capable of negotiating salary and understanding salary packages?
  • Am I prepared for the transition from graduate school to my next destination?
  • Do I understand how to navigate workplace politics?
  • Do I have at least one professional mentor?
  • Am I transparent and honest when interacting with my colleagues or supervisor? 

Building Your Level of Competency

Build on your level of this competency through the following:

  • Use a planner or calendar to prioritize work/assignments and meet deadlines in your courses and research.
  • Reflect on a recent challenge and identify areas of growth and improvement for the future. Review with your supervisor, mentor, or a senior professional in your field. 
  • Review your social media through the eyes of a future employer and determine appropriateness. Have it reviewed with Graduate Career Services.
  • Demonstrate personal accountability and integrity.
  • Present yourself as a polished professional. Observe other young professionals you meet, or those at a level or two above you during an internship, conference, or professional workshop.
  • Contribute in a positive manner.
  • Learn from your mistakes and own up to them.
  • Use caution not to overshare about your personal life in your work environment.
  • Volunteer in a capacity where you can use your skills and expertise. There are so many opportunities for this at ND.
  • Say yes to relevant opportunities. Tactfully say no when necessary. 
  • Ask one question in every group meeting and/or research related presentation you attend.

Communicate this Competency

There are many opportunities to communicate your work ethic and professionalism to others; through your resume, cover letters, interviewing, 30-second professional introduction, networking, etc. Here are tips when articulating this competency in the following ways: 

  • Resume: Include any professional certifications you many have, and any professional organizations you may belong to (,,, etc.).
  • Cover Letter: Demonstrate how you have grown professionally through continuous study, research, and participation.
  • Interviews: Be able to articulate your knowledge about the industry, organization, and recent trends or innovations.
  • Elevator Pitch: Prepare and be able to demonstrate your professional expertise. The pitch is more about thoughtfully and clearly demonstrating the connection between where you are currently and the professional direction you are heading or the position you are seeking.
  • Internships: Maintain high standards of professional conduct and show concern about professional improvement. Quality of work reflects your professional standards. 
  • Class Projects: Strive to grow professionally through continuous study and participation; display industriousness, conscientiousness and diligence in coursework and projects. 
  • Service: Demonstrate civic engagement and concern for the well-being of other community members through outreach and service opportunities.
  • Student Organizations: Demonstrate your involvement and an exceptional mastery of professional skills.

Career Ready Competency Tracking Tool

Download the Career Ready Competency Tracking Tool one time from the main Career Competencies webpage, and utilize one document to track the development of all your competencies.