As we begin the new millennium, the pursuit of employees with good work ethics seems more critical than ever before. With the success and explosion of "DOT COM" companies, also comes the need for talented employees to work in a fast-paced and demanding environment. One question frequently asked on interviews today, targeted to determine the level of an individual's work ethics is - "How do you feel about working overtime?"

Overtime, a word that may conjure up feelings of despair for many, is a word that is a way of life for others today. Gone are the days of the "9 to 5" job in any technology driven company - today "24X7" (24 hours per day, 7 days per week) seems to be the mindset at Internet companies. Last year, an article in USA Today described the young professionals that made millions working for Internet start-ups after the IPO. The question raised in the article was "Are you willing to work 80 hour work weeks for the big pay-off?"

So does work ethics mean you have to work at a company where you work outrageous overtime on a regular basis . . . absolutely not. Work ethics means you are willing to work overtime when the company needs you to be there for them. For some companies, such as emerging "DOT COM" companies, it could be 60+ hour weeks. For other companies, it could be forty-five hour work weeks.

Work ethics translates into an attitude about work. In a recent meeting with an executive at a multi-billion dollar external service provider, a director interviewed, listed the key traits for an information technology project manager position as "Let's start with finding people who really want to work and appreciate work." Having good work ethics means you value the opportunity to work . . . it is an attitude. For the over thirteen million working age Americans with disabilities unemployed in the United States today, the ability to work really means freedom and independence in this country. For those people, their attitude towards work is that being able to work is a treasure.

When employers promote an individual, they list work ethics as a key issue in their selection process. Ina Lavin, Director of Human Resources for Be Free, Inc. stated "Good work ethics is an expectation of our managers. If you do not have good work ethics, you will not be successful."

If you are not moving up in the company, ask yourself the following questions about your attitude towards work. If your career is really important to you, it may be time to do an honest self-evaluation.

  • Do you have a positive attitude about your job and the company you work for on a daily basis? It is really hard for an employer to believe you exude strong work ethics, if you do not project how much you love your job and the company. If you are grumbling, complaining or part of the "whiner's club" at work, you will never convince your boss that you have good work ethics, or that you should be promoted.
  • Do you have a high-level of energy at work? To be appointed to manage a large project, you need to make the boss believe you can handle it easily. This is where a healthy lifestyle is critical, with proper rest, nutrition and exercise all-important to your success. Burning the candles at both ends will burn you out.
  • Do you do your job right the first time? This question really comes back to attitude about your job. If you do your job in a haphazard fashion, you really display a poor attitude about work. In addition, this situation causes a real productivity problem for your company. If you do it wrong the first time, you will be doing it over and over until you get it right.
  • Are you willing to work overtime when the company needs you? The employer today needs employees who will be there for them when it counts. In information technology, you will most likely work overtime if you are part of a start-up company or if you are working on a project implementation. In many cases, many high-paying positions do require overtime. This is not an unusual way of life in IT, as well as in many white-collar positions today. If your company needs you and you are not willing to put the time in, you should not wonder why you are always passed over at promotions.
  • Do you realize how visible "work ethics" are in a small company, or in a team? Paula Ballog, CFO at Bender Consulting Services, Inc. said, "Good work ethics are critical in hiring any employee for any small company in the United States today."

It is amazing how quickly people forget how visible they are in a small company, where every employee must handle multiple tasks. Even in a large corporation, in a team environment, the team player that does not put in their share is quickly labeled as "lazy". Pittsburgh is a town that lives on reputations, and you do not ever want that label. Remember there are millions of people who would give anything to have what you possess today - employment. Good work ethics means pride in your work. Employment is a treasure you never want to lose.

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