40 Employability Skills for a Successful Long-Term Career
What will get you hired? What skills will make you a valuable employee? Which character traits will contribute to a long term career? Do you want to be a top talent that needs to be retained at all costs?
Go through our checklist and score yourself.
Do you have what it takes?
According to Forbes:
‘Sixty-five percent of recruiters and hiring managers say strong written or spoken communication skills is more important in an entry-level job applicant than their college major.’
Does it surprise you? Talking a little, saying a lot. On your interview, your communication skills will impress your recruiters. During your work, they will help you get your ideas across, clearly.
Communication skills come in handy with conflict resolution, interpersonal relationships, negotiation, sales…
As educated as you are you will never reach your full potential without developing your communication skills.
#2. TEAM WORK
In every team project there is the slackers, the stressors and the stars. The secret of the successful team project hides in that balance.
According to a research, published by Eurofound, there is a correlation between working in team and job satisfaction.
To be a good team member:
- Take on responsibilities
- Do your research
- Keep eye on the big picture and how others fit in the project
- Identify holes in your plans
- Observe deadlines
- Support your team members
#3. PROBLEM SOLVING
Problem solving is a very common buzzword recruiters see on CVs. Once the employees who so proudly flaunted that word enter the company, though, they often become something else.
Problem creators are the employees who always manage to get themselves into a mess and then need resources and time from others to resolve their issue.
Problem identifiers are the people who always complain but are not willing to become a part of the solution.
True problem solvers gather information, analyze, cross-analyze, identify and then find solutions with minimum effort and time spent in the process.
For problem solvers a challenge is not a burden. It is a part of the job. And they are constantly on the lookup for things to fix.
There is nothing worse than a room full of passive employees. Being able to take the initiative is not only relevant to starting projects.
It is indicative of:
- Being able to identify and plan action points when others aren’t
- Being confident with your opinion and your vision
- Feeling responsibility to act
- Willingness to take on responsibility for the result of your actions
#5. PLANNING AND ORGANIZING
A few important aspects of organization:
- Personal space organization – always keep things easy to find (and pleasing on the eye)
- Keep your thought process organized, be clear when trying to convey your thoughts
- Scheduling – keep up with your deadlines
- Always have a plan B if things don’t go as planned
Test your skills in organization here via PsychologyToday.
Self-management is the ability to take on responsibilities, to plan and execute on projects and being accountable for your actions.
Employees with good self-management are valuable because:
- They are highly motivated
- They need limited assistance or follow-up with their initiatives
- They are organized
- They adapt if the circumstances call for that
- They respond well to constructive criticism
- They are willing to accept blame if a project fails and work to minimize any negative effects on the organization.
Staff is constantly encouraged and supported to broaden their horizon and develop new hard skills.
The ability to learn fast is the key to finding a way to fit in the company, to find a way around rejection and failure, to develop new abilities, and, ultimately, to the success of the organization.
Watch this TED video on learning:
#8. IT SKILLS
Technology is penetrating the labor market. With the progress in the industry, not only the amount of specialists in demand is growing, but the diversity of IT skills in non-IT professions is raising.
Being able to ‘speak’ to technology, to adapt to new methods and devices that are introduced to the workplace is crucial.
What is a novelty today will be a part of our everyday work life tomorrow. Artificial intelligence, augmented reality, data science, and machine learning are coming to your workplace.
Doing more with less. Thinking out of the box. Turing ideas into matter.
Resourcefulness is about optimization. Take a minimum amount of resources and bringing the best possible outcome. Surpassing the competition with minimum effort and investments.
Resourcefulness is about not wasting any money, time or effort. It is not just about being able to decide how to make a return on investment, it is about figuring out how much needs to be invested, what and from where.
Showing natural curiosity in the job and the organization is a sure way to make an impression on your interview.
Why? Because curiosity is a great indicator of the future progress of the employee.
Naturally curious employees:
- Go faster through their training
- Develop their skills further than the average
- Keep an eye on the big picture in the organization
- Are better at research
- Are more informed during negotiations
Organizations always strive forward. Planning, predicting and projecting. But surprises always happen. And then companies look to their employees to show flexibility and adaptability towards new conditions.
Changes in the working hours, in the tasks, the deadlines and the workflow can be a challenge for workers.
Managers are always appreciative when there is an open communication in those cases about the concerns of their staff. Employees, loyal to the cause will always be compensated fairly and will be considered a talent to retain.
Negotiation is nothing more than the process to get the most of every situation. It is no wonder negotiation is a valued skill in an organization’s employees. And just because it is simple, does not mean it is easy.
It is a matter of skill, confidence, communication power and gravitas. Good negotiators are talents. They have high intelligence, a natural understanding of boundaries, they show high level of non-verbal communication. And most importantly, they get results.
Strong moral principles and honesty are winning over the shark mentality of hard businessmen.
An employee that can show proof of integrity in the workplace, whether the push towards the wrong direction was coming from the company or from the customers, will always find appreciation and success at the interview table.
Employees with integrity are committed to the company values and to the company cause equally. They manage to get a win-win result of any situation.
There is nothing more off-putting on a CV than job-hopping. When the work history of a job candidate is long and scattered, the recruiter knows immediately they have no regards to the organization they work for.
An employer-employee relationship is, among other things, an investment on the side of the organization. The training, developing a relationship, opening up company secrets for the employee – those are company resources.
Only via commitment and loyalty an employee and an employer can establish a long-term relationship and return on their investment.
But that is only one side of it. An employee is also investing with their work for the company. Being unable to stay loyal to the same employer for a long period of time shows something is wrong with that employees habits, or way of thinking.
According to the report of the World Economic Forum, The Future of Jobs, creativity is projected to become the third most important jobs skill by 2020.
It is defined as ‘the ability to come up with unusual or clever ideas about a given topic or situation, or to develop creative ways to solve a problem.’
Creativity is appreciated because it brings up unique solutions to long-term issues.
Have you ever been asked on an interview ‘What would your friends tell me about you’?
Employers are interested to know about your relationships outside of the office. Sometimes it is not sufficient to be a hard working employee.
The ability to make friends and network is a good indicator of your ability to work in team and how well you will get along with your colleagues.
#17. DECISION MAKING
It sounds logical that every human has the ability to take decisions. But is it so simple?
So what does decision making look like, as a skill?
- Good decision makers are quick. They never get stunned when presented with multiple choices.
- Good decision makers never toss a coin. The decision is carefully weighed for the advantages and disadvantages it can bring along.
- Good decision makers are good at organization. They never go for the dream solution, when it will be impossible to follow through by the team.
- Good decision makers show accountability. If they fail, they admit their guilt instead of blaming the team, the tough position they were put in, the competition, or the circumstances.
It is immediately obvious to the experienced recruiter when an employee is self-aware.
At the interview, the potential employee will not be talking big of themselves, without proof of their achievements. They will be honest of their abilities.
They will only take initiative when they can follow through with the plan.
They will have great relationship with their colleagues.
Self-aware employees will never overestimate their skills or their role for the organization.
Valuable employees know how to keep their cool.
They stay calm in shaky situations – during important negotiations, around interpersonal conflict in the office, and whenever their responsibilities are staring to become overwhelming.
Keeping calm is crucial for responding well to constructive criticism, for keeping focus under pressure, and for communicating effectively.
#20. SEEKING OBJECTIVE RECOGNITION
Seeking recognition for your skills is natural. Keeping objectivity in it is a talent.
It is the skill that will compel a programmer to certify themselves to prove they are able to keep up with high standards. It is the urgency that will drive employees to strive towards real achievements.
It is the feeling that will push anyone to seek feedback from their leader and work on improvements.
#21. INTERPERSONAL SENSITIVITY
It is the ability to accurately recognize the feelings and thoughts that go through others’ heads and respond to them adequately.
Interpersonal sensitivity contributes to healthier work relationships, more accurate reading and response during conversations with customers, more efficient communication with leadership, a more realistic assessment of a team’s abilities.
Interpersonal sensitivity is crucial for any position of power and is a must-have accessory to any skill that has to do with management, recruitment or leadership.
High self-motivation is a must. Yes, it is a leader’s job to bring back confidence in employees that have lost it. But when you are lacking drive to do the job, a simple pep talk just won’t cut it.
It is not only a matter of how driven you are to succeed. It is also important what drives you.
Money, for example, is rarely a good answer. Success is equally as bad.
An employee with drive will be inspired by the cause of the organization. They will be energized by the mere thought that their place in the company is valuable because of how it plays out in society.
According to Forbes, good leaders:
- Value potential over current performance
- Show loyalty
- Take the initiative
- Are committed to learning
- Are good decision makers
- Are comfortable out of their comfort zone
- Communicate openly
- Unite the team
Employers will not base their decision of your work based on your looks, but they will take your appearance into account.
The way someone looks contributes a lot to the first impression they leave. The more the first impression is important in their job, the more the employer will objectively have something to say about it.
Surveys tell us that employers will judge you based on your grooming, the strength of your handshake, your attire.
Interestingly enough, a tattoo or a piercing in a visible place is, of diminishing, but still, of some slight importance.
#25. PRESENTATION SKILLS
Being able to present yourself, your skills, your ideas and your work in the right light saves you time and efforts.
Presentation skills have nothing to do with how well you have organized your slides and charts.
It is about gathering the right information, presenting only what needs to be said, but everything that needs to be said, identifying issues, suggesting solutions, and being convincing of your opinions.
Employees with thick skin will stay calm in difficult situations because they are confident in their abilities.
They are capable of turning every failure into a lesson. And have every lesson contribute to a future success.
Strong characters persevere out of the comfort zone, when circumstances surprise them and when the world seems against them.
They are always able to focus on the end goal regardless of the challenges on the way.
Nowadays everyone and their mother will list ‘research’ among the skills on their CV because they have learned how to google.
Research skills have to do with knowing your sources, comparing conflicting information, distilling facts that are important to your organization.
The result of research should give a competitive edge over the competition – the information must be:
Impulsivity and unpredictability is poison in your working history.
Employers want to see consistency in your actions, your positions, your career steps, your projects.
Hopping from one job to another, from one field to a completely different one, from one career ladder to the other will be a toxic sign in your CV. Maybe you can explain away one impulsive decision, but not all of them.
If you are showing inconsistency in your decisions, your employers will not be considering you a potentially loyal employee. They will not be invested in you or in your career. You will have a lot to prove.
#29. BIG PICTURE
An employee who always sees the big picture is priceless.
They are always aware of:
- the economy
- the changing demands
- the market
- the changing labor market
- the mood in Management
- the abilities of their team
- possible changes within the company structure
Big-picture employees always take the best decisions because they factor in so much, it is very difficult to surprise them.
They make the best leaders and experience growth within a small period of time.
Confidence is of great value in loyal and skillful employees.
Confident workers are always open in their communication about their work. They see things realistically and are ready to stand behind their decisions.
They take accountability for their mistakes and do not allow their failures to stop their future success.
Being a good worker may suffice to keep your job, but in order to make the list of top talent, you need to have a personality.
In the workplace, you do not have to be just an employee. You can be a friend, a motivator, a leader. Not just contributing to the company culture. Creating it.
Having strong values, being appreciative of others, having fun, breaking the boundaries, thinking out of the box. It can make you irreplaceable.
In the competitive market, a healthy level of ambition is a must.
Ambition can be scary to recruiters and employers. Will the employee overestimate their skills? Will they go for recognition over actual achievements?
There is a difference between ambition and competitiveness. Competitiveness is what drives people to try and top each other.
Ambition is the need to improve yourself. To set goals, plan and achieve them. To exchange dreams for projects.
Famously, the company Zappos has the policy to offer unhappy employees 2000 USD to quit – an idea that Amazon decided to copy.
Money cannot be the motivator for working in an organization. An employee must be feeling useful and successful contributing to society together with an organization, completely in line with their values.
Humility is one of the most important values for low level and C-suite executives alike.
Honesty is your best bet since day one in an organization. Concealing information will lead to misunderstanding, wasted efforts, wasted money.
In some cases it could even lead you into legal trouble.
Watch this fun TED talk on Honesty and Humility.
The case for reliability is three-fold.
- Reliable employees will step in where others fall short. Leading the organization forward regardless of the circumstances.
- Reliable employees will suggest working solutions. They will carry every plan towards success.
- Reliable employees will discuss openly when they see a failure coming ahead and will deal with the consequences.
Being overly positive will stop you from seeing around corners. Being too negative will hinder you from taking the initiative when action is most required. Negativism is not your friend while being under pressure.
Having a realistic assessment of the circumstances will allow you to come prepared, plan well, take the most of your opportunities and bring your projects to fruition.
Credibility is difficult to achieve. It involves high intelligence as the basis. The ability to research, sift through false sources and come up with a pool of information upon which to act.
Being able to plan with high achievability. Always being prepared with plan B and responding adequately to failure.
Credibility is the result of consistency in achievement. It leads to confidence and trust.
Actions speak louder than words. Showing fast progress through your training, taking on new responsibilities and rarely disappointing. Being promoted from a team member, to a team lead, to a leader.
Progress reads well on your CV, but you can also show progress in your organization. Be flexible, adapt, and always work to improve yourself.
Even if you show some good results, if you combine that with slacking, your employer will attribute your success to nothing other than luck. The work-hard-party-hard mentality is a thing of the past.
Value your company’s time and your own effort.
#40. THE X FACTOR
It is not something you can list on your CV. It is that magical ability to just be… likeable.
That may seem vague, but it is a factor in your employer’s opinion of you. Our advice is – do not focus on one skill, one virtue, one way of work.
‘I am not here to make friends.’ Or ‘I don’t insist that people likes me’. If those thoughts ever crossed your mind, think again. You do not need to bend over backwards to make each and every one of your coworkers fall in love with you, but you have to try and keep a well-rounded profile, stay friendly and keep a good impression.
You can never please everyone. Our list of 40 skills can be a valuable check-list for you to score yourself and want to imagine who you are in your employer’s eyes.
But do not be discouraged, and do not allow the list to bring your confidence down. Nobody is perfect. Recruiters and managers know that. They will appreciate you for your work. But you can always strive to achieve a little bit more. Start with one list item. And see where that gets you.
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