Work Ethics & Etiquette: What Are They & How Do I Get Them?

February 3, 2021

By Connie Harrington, Associate Director of Career Development and Employer Relations

As a student, you should be developing work ethic and etiquette skill sets to prepare you for the work environment.  Work ethics and etiquette show how motivated you are, how you handle responsibilities, and your level of professionalism. Work ethics are used in coordination with work etiquette and are traits all employers are looking for.

Work ethic defines the values you have set to guide you through the world of work and determine your standing in a company.  Characteristics of positive work ethics:

  • Optimistic Attitude
  • Professionalism
  • Good Attendance
  • Punctuality
  • Hardworking
  • Goal-Oriented
  • Accomplishment Driven
  • Self-Disciplined
  • Time Management Focused
  • Reliability
  • Productivity
  • Accountability

Work etiquette is an expected code of behavior that defines expectations for social behavior. Etiquette requires presenting yourself in a manner considered appropriate by others. Here are some behaviors to consider:

  • Reading and Responding Professionally to Emails
  • Delivering an Impressive Handshake
  • Introductions in Social Settings
    • Entering and Exiting a Group
    • Initiating Conversations
    • Business Card Protocol
  • Follow-Up Strategies
  • Using Cell Phones Thoughtfully
  • Virtual Meeting Presence

Can you answer these questions about ethics and etiquette? If not you may need to brush up on your skills.

  • When receiving an email in a business environment, what is the time expectation to read it and respond?
  • What does RSVP on an invitation, mean and why is it important?
  • If you are unable to make a meeting, event, etc., is it okay not to respond?
  • If you accepted an invite is it okay to not show up or not inform the host you are not coming?  

If you would like assistance and/or additional information please contact Career Services. Appointments can be made by email at, or through Symplicity at All meetings will be held via Zoom.