Some people can hop jobs and industries with ease. They move from one role to a seemingly unrelated one – improving their salary and job prospects as they go.
It’s not a coincidence. These “lucky” souls have universal job skills – AKA “transferable skills”.
If you master these skills you may be rewarded with promotions and pay rises, and be less likely to find yourself unemployed for any period of time.
- Great communication skills. Can you convey a message to your colleagues or staff? Do you listen well? And can you put yourself in someone else’s shoes? These skills may leapfrog you to the front of a job queue. Remember communication isn’t just verbal. Good writing, grammar and spelling are important if you want to get ahead in your career despite what your friends might say. Almost everyone has to send work emails and as you progress up the promotion ladder you’ll probably need to write reports.
You can learn to avoid many of the most basic mistakes without going back to school. Check out this Grammar Goofs guide or Google the words: common grammar mistakes. If you struggle with writing, check out Grammar Girl’s guide to writing clear sentences. If in doubt, run a spell checker on everything you write including emails.
- Flexibility, adaptability and innovation. Change is a given in organisations and those people who can be flexible, adapt to change and innovate are sought after. Your employer is going to be more impressed with the person who embraces the new system and sees the potential improvements it brings - rather than the employee who grudgingly accepts that he or she will have to change. Being open to new ideas is an invaluable skill.
- Creativity and problem solving. We all face problems in our day-to-day work. If you’re the person who can come up with creative solutions and problem solve, you’ll get noticed. Your creativity could help your employer gain new business or solve a costly problem.
- Results focused. We’ve all sat with colleagues who sing their own praises all day long, but never complete projects. Don’t be one of them. Be the person who gets rated on his or her results. Having an understanding of the commercial side of your organisation will help you achieve those results. Ask yourself: “Are the actions I am taking good for the business? Is it the most cost efficient solution?”
- Great interpersonal skills. The personable person gets ahead at work. Working well with others is a pre-requisite for almost every job – even if you only see your colleagues at weekly team meetings. What’s more, if you can build internal or external relationships, create teams or organise colleagues to collaborate you’ll rack up both brownie points and achievements. Some of the skills you need to succeed at interpersonal relationships are listening, fairness and empathy. Being resilient and able to bounce back is also essential.
- Computer skills. Great computer skills will get you noticed even if your job doesn’t directly rely on them. You might help your boss solve a conundrum with an Excel spread sheet, or demonstrate to tricks for using the company database more efficiently to colleagues. Technical skills and initiative are universally regarded.
- Ability to research. Knowing how to find information is a beneficial skill in most industries. Even if you’re not a researcher you can research a subject or issue and give your boss options, tell him or her what the company has done in the past in similar circumstances, or find out how other organisations tackle it.
Not everyone is born with these skills. The great news is that they can be learned. If you don’t know where to start, try Googling the skill you want to improve and look for tips. Or you can read a book on the subject. If there’s nothing in your local library or bookshop, search one of the big international bookseller sites such as Amazon or Bookdepository.