You’ve got your basic education behind you and in
your first position, or you’ve been on the job for
awhile, you ask yourself what additional qualities
do I need to help my career? You’ve started a
business and you ask yourself the same question?
What learnable skills are essential for career and
business success?In study after study, and surveys
taken with many executives and successful business
owners the following nine learnable skills and abilities
are the most valued. Even without specific education
or experience these learnable skills will contribute
greatly to your ongoing performance and career
The critical nine career building skills and abilities
are: (In no particular order, as each job or business
has its own set of priorities.)
1. Selling Skills
To get people to buy your ideas, services or products
is a quick definition of the selling skill. If you have a job,
you've managed to make at least one sale -- that of
your services to an employer. Business does not happen
without sales. Selling skills are part of the skill category
of Negotiation, which is listed among the nine top skills.
It's so important, before you do anything, you should
read and study one or more of the best books on sales.
2. Writing Skills
Others want to know what you know. So, you to write
it down for them. You have to write it succinctly,
precisely and in a way that is easily understood. You
need to provide them instructive, believable, and
motivational and convincing written material. It should
communicate what you know and what you can do. You
no doubt, definitely, without a question, must be able to
write effectively to get to the peak of your career or
3. Speaking Skills
You must be able to speak up for yourself and your
department at meetings. Getting a pet project or a
budget approved means speaking well and persuasively.
Running effective meetings, interviewing and even
arguing for a raise require good speaking skills. You certainly
must speak well at least one-to-one in order to sell anything.
All of the foregoing requires the same skills as public speaking.
You can learn the skills from a book or class and through
practice. Joining a local Toastmasters club is probably the
easiest way to become comfortable speaking to an audience of
any size, whether it’s to one or one thousand.
4. Leadership Skills
Leadership is the ability to get people to do what you
want them to do. If you are a good leader, people will
do what you've asked them to do, whether or not you
are there to supervise. If you are a great leader, they
will do what you've asked, strive to do it well, enjoy
working for you and try to do more than you've asked,
just to please you. If you are inspired leader, they will do
what you ask, try to contribute as much more as you will
allow, make sure that whatever they do is the highest
quality they can give you, and consider their work not
merely enjoyable, but rather a shared vision partnership
with you. Leadership includes the skills of motivation,
change facilitation, behavior modification and conflict management.
5. Judgment Skills
Good judgment is one of the most valued abilities.
Making accurate evaluations, outlining possible options
and then making a sensible choice is a valuable commodity.
Choices, regarding people, are especially prized. It is the
ability to develop informed opinions. The development of critical
thinking skills, and the careful laying out of options all go
toward building this skill. Carefully examining all the options,
even with less than 100% of the desired information, will more
often than not allow you to make a “good judgment.”
6. Organizational Skills
The management of time. The management of people.
The management of the processes. All organized so that
everything is efficiently accomplished with the least amount
of time and overall cost. A skilled organizer starts with their
own time management and branches out to include subordinates
and other things within their control.
7. Negotiation Skills
Negotiation is the basic ability to persuade others to do what
you want or give you what you want. These talents are closely
related to selling skills and to motivation. Further, they are an
essential component to leadership. You can study and learn
from any number of books the essential skills that will help you
get others to cooperate with you in achieving your mutual goals.
Those who apply this skill successfully on behalf of their
employers and themselves almost always get ahead of their
peers-usually way ahead.
8. Financial Skills
When you get into a management position you must know
about financial planning and budgeting. To move higher, you
must be knowledgeable about all aspects of corporate finance,
cash flow, taxes, return on investment, asset valuation and
valuing mergers and acquisitions are just some of financial skills
you must acquire. However, there's plenty of easy to
understand information in books and seminars as well as
relevant trade journals that will give you a hand.
9. Information Gathering and Technology Skills
This essential skill includes finding the best news, articles,
books, tapes, videos, training and other written and multiple
media sources that keep you current and "in the know" in
your field of expertise. You should also develop and cultivate
access to experts who can assist or direct you to the right
information. A wide network of experts will speedup your
ability to gather information. Storing the information you
acquire, making it easy to access and add to it easily is another
skill you need to acquire. At a minimum you should be able to
make and use databases, to learn and use basic research skills
and to be able to do quick, effective internet searches.You will
not get ahead without knowing how to use all the current
technology relevant to business in general and to your field in
particular. You will not get ahead without it. At a minimum,
you must acquire basic computer user skills. Also if you make
any sorts of presentations, for example, you need to know how
to use projectors, projected video, audio amplification systems,
computer-assisted training programs and computer projected
The nine career building skills all require an analysis
as to where you are now. Need to improve your writing ability?
Start with a plan and do something every day to advance the
skill. Do the same with all of the nine. Build and work a reading
and studying list and in no time you’ll find your career skills
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