There are some fundamental skills that won’t just help you to chase a specific career – they could help you to gain access to all manner of jobs. These are known as transferable skills. It’s possible that you may already have some of these skills from previous jobs without even thinking of these as a "skill" to mention to your prospective employers. When switching jobs or just getting into the workforce, identifying such skills can be vital for helping to fight your cause and get the job you want.
In many roles, being a team player is essential. While you may have your own responsibilities and personal goals, there are likely to be team goals that need to be achieved. Having an ability to work with a team means being able to collaborate with people to achieve goals, taking on other people responsibilities when necessary, suggesting improvements to processes and procedures even if they don't benefit you, and generally keeping a good morale. Most people already have this skill under their belt – even if you’ve never had a job, you may be able to give evidence of this skill if you’ve ever been a member of a school sports team or a club or in your volunteer activities.
Being able to work towards deadlines and get everything done in a timely manner is also essential to career success. Whether it’s completing a large project in time or getting every customer served timely, time management is a key asset. Think of a time when you met a deadline and give evidence of this on your CV – it could help you to get your next job. You could even use examples from school such as having hand in multiple essays on the same day if you’re pursuing your first job.
Being able to think outside of the box is also a valued skill in many careers. In creative professions, some employers may even organize activities during an interview to test a person’s creativity. You may not have to possess artistic hobbies in order to prove that you’re creative – simply think back to innovative ideas you’ve had in the past that have made you successful and give evidence of these in your resume. You could even find a way of creatively applying for a job such as sending a video with your digital CV explaining why you’re right for the job or using infographics.
Problem solving is essentially applying logic to creative ideas and is also important to may job roles. Many employers like to ask applicants for an example of a time in which they solved a problem in the workplace – it’s worth having an example at the ready. We all solve problems on a daily basis, but obviously employers will want to know examples of big problems that you were able to resolve independently. This could include managing a difficult customer or having to improvise after equipment failed.
Being able to lead and manage other people is also a useful skill. Achieving a management position is one way to prove leadership skills, but it isn’t the only way. Being the team captain of a sports team or the leader of a club could show a sense of leadership. Alternatively, having the responsibility of teaching a new staff member or someone in a club could show a level of leadership. Employers are not looking for someone with the confidence to boss people around. They are interested in your ability to assess a project, delegate roles based on people’s strengths, provide morale to a team and teach people skills without being condescending. If you can give examples of any of these leadership traits, you could make a better case for yourself when applying for a job. There arealso leadership courses that you can also take to help give evidence of having this skill.
Many job ads demand ‘strong verbal communication skills’ – this is simply your ability to communicate information with other people. This involves asking the right questions and being able to give clear answers. A job interview is the perfect opportunity for an employer to test your verbal communication skills. Quite often, the key is to be confident but concise – you don’t want to be giving one word answers, but you don’t want to be rambling on for ages either. This video on Giving Presentations with Poise will be a great resource to check out.
Now that email is so widely used, written communication skills are becoming just as important as verbal communication skills. This involves being able to articulate yourself well with proper grammar and spelling in order to stay professional. Your CV is the opportunity to show off your written communication skills. As with verbal communication skills, employers don’t like rambling – your personal statement should be well-written but to the point. Give evidence of the key skills that employers are looking for in as few sentences as you can with some brief information on who you are and what you have achieved.
Being computer literate is also becoming a vital skill. Almost all work is done primarily on a computer nowadays. Retail workers are even using digital POS stands and handymen are using digital diagnostic tools in the form of apps. You don’t have to be an expert programmer (although this is becoming a more sought after skill in some industries), but you do need to have a basic grasp of digital technology. Try to give evidence of times when you’ve used digital technology in the workplace. Having a LinkedIn profile, creating a digital portfolio or creating a CV using infographics could all be other ways of showing that you’re digitally proficient. You could even take an online course in order to obtain some kind of digital qualification.
First aid training
Though it may seem like a slightly more niche skill, first aid training is valuable in practically any work environment. It is often a legal requirement to have be someone in the workplace with basic first aid training so that if an accident occurs, they can react quickly. Learning first aid skills isn’t as difficult as you may think. I did it for many years when I was a lifeguard and camp counselor. It is even easier now because you can get online CPR certification without having to attend an in-person course.
Almost 1 in 6 job ads require people to have a driver's license – if you’re able to drive, this could be something to put on your CV. Even if the job itself doesn’t require any driving, many employers still require this skill due to the work being based in a remote location. The amount of jobs with flexible hours has also increased and this can sometimes mean not being able to take public transport if your shift finishes at three in the morning.
Help out your fellow boss babes! What are some skills that you think we should add to this list?
M.E.L. is an attorney and small business entrepreneur whose mission is to help professionals conquer the workaday world with style and poise.
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