Applicants should aim for more than ‘hard worker’

As college students continue their quest to graduation, whether that date is near or far, many are looking to build a solid résumé in the process.

In one of my classes this semester, the professor went around the room on the first day, and the questions began to make me think about my résumé. He asked the students to introduce themselves and give basic information, such as their names, majors, classifications and future career plans.

“What is the one quality you possess that sets you apart from other candidates in your field of work?” the professor asked. Knowing there were students of different classifications, but mostly juniors and seniors, I was intrigued to hear the answers.

Over half the class of 20 used the same adjective to describe their best trait — “hard-working.”

The definition of “hard-working” is “(of a person) tending to work with energy and commitment; diligent,” according to Oxford Dictionary.

My initial thought was, “Great, not to be rude, but its no longer a standout quality to be a hard-worker from a self-proclaimed standpoint.” After further research, I’ve convinced myself that saying I’m hard-working is taboo, especially on a resume.

If five years of college has taught me anything, it has shown me gaining any hands-on experience outside of the classroom is tangible proof of hard work. As I approach my graduation this May, I am extremely comfortable handing my resume to any employer in my field.

According to an article from Laura Morsch of published on, “The hiring manager won’t be convinced if you can’t provide solid examples to back up your claims.”

Any person from here to Betelgeuse can claim to be hard-working, but where is the proof? How can employers trust an applicant they have never met when his or her application is full of empty adjectives without indisputable proof.

There are a lot of questions to consider when building a resume for an employer or preparing for a major job interview, such as what items to add and what items to leave out, but some important thoughts never enter an applicant’s mind.

As an applicant or as a student, always consider possible connections and how to earn their respect. A scary thought would be to know something I did as a freshman or sophomore could have rubbed a possible reference the wrong way.

Even in my role with The Flor-Ala, I have witnessed people I know who either used filler words or embellished their resume with half-truthful information when applying for a job on our staff. Doing this can easily come back in the future because nobody ever knows who might have a connection with a potential employer, whether that connection is beneficial or detrimental.

For the underclassmen who are on the early path to a potential graduation date in the next decade, consider ways to replace filler words, such as hard-working and dependable, with proof of gaining experience beyond the classroom, meeting deadlines and showing up for scheduled classes and events.

As for upperclassmen, the time is near to move into a career. The past is the past, but the present is still within control.

Never rest on previous laurels, but continue to prove to be more than just a self-proclaimed “hard worker.”