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Tips to identify work ethic in resumes

4/26/2022

A job candidate's work ethic can be identified before the interview.

Work ethic is one of those ineffable qualities that is hard to describe but easy to identify. In short, you know it when you see it. And with more job openings in the trucking industry than there are applicants, your current hires have plenty of opportunities to go above and beyond the call of duty.

But given the severity of the driver shortage — which is poised to exceed 160,000 within 10 years, according to estimates from the American Trucking Associations — you can't afford to wait and see if newly hired drivers give every task their 110% effort. You need to be able to identify work ethic prior to extending a job offer.

Here are a few things to look for in job candidates' resumes that can help you gauge the overall work ethic of new recruits.

Length of service with previous employers
The work experience section of a resume speaks to applicants' skill sets and experience. But it can also help you identify how committed they are to their job, especially if they reached different positions in their time there. While there isn't any specific amount of time that is more indicative of a candidate's superior work ethic than others, the combination of years of service and promotions within that time are encouraging signs.

A robust references section
Generally speaking, work resumes are composed of four parts: contact information, education, employment history and skill sets. They don't always include a section listing a job candidate's references. If contacts are cited, however, reaching out to one or two of those people is a great way to assess a job applicant's work ethic. Those former coworkers or managers presumably observed the quality of the potential hire's work and should be able to speak to whether they bring the kind of effort and motivation that you'd like to see should they be hired for the job.

Listing of achievements
Work ethic isn't just about trying your best; it's also about getting results. As such, be sure to check for any accomplishments, awards or recognitions that a job candidate lists on their curriculum vitae. Whether it's in the form of safety awards, employee of the month nominations or awards for demonstrating leadership in the workplace, achievements can help you establish what kind of productivity you can expect from them based on their track record.

History of volunteer work
Since truckers spend the vast majority of their time on their own in the average workday, they need to be highly self-motivated and disciplined. A great way to find out solely through a job applicant's resume is if they volunteer. Whether its for their church, in the community or with non-profit groups, volunteer work typically has one thing in common: it's done for free. Since volunteers engage in unpaid activities through their own free will, details on the kinds of tasks they've done during their free time speaks to their work ethic.

By keeping some of these in mind in your resume reviews, you won't have to guess as to whether drivers have superior work ethic — you can know it.

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