There are eight essential skills that are critical for success in almost any job. You don’t need to know what job you want yet, but it can be helpful to think about the skills that you already have and how they can help you land the job you want.
It is very likely that you will have more than one job in your lifetime, perhaps across multiple industries. Being able to talk about your skill set confidently will make you much more employable. These eight essential skills are recognized as important by hundreds of employers, across a wide range of sectors.
As a student, you can dig into these skills in more detail using the Skills Builder Universal Framework, which is backed by over 120 employers nationally. Plus, if you want to discover your skills strengths and areas for development you can sign up to Skills Builder Benchmark for free.
As a teacher, you can start to teach these essential skills to students using over 300 short lessons on the Skills Builder Hub. Or you could apply for a funded programme place for your school or college on the Skills Builder Accelerator.
Importance of skills in the workplace
Communication is often considered one of the most important ‘soft’ skills required by the modern workforce. In the workplace, you will be expected to use the skill of Listening effectively every day. This might be through following instructions to keep you safe and fulfil a task properly, listening to your client’s requirements, or receiving important updates from a colleague. By understanding and demonstrating effective Listening on a regular basis, you will be more productive in all aspects of your role.
- Which job roles do you think require excellent listening skills? Why is it so important?
- How would you demonstrate that you’re a good listener in an interview?
In the workplace, you will be expected to use the skill of Speaking effectively every day. This might be through presentations, developing an idea or building relationships with others. Businesses often report that the communication skills of their employees is an area of concern and many require extra training. By understanding and demonstrating effective Speaking on a regular basis, it will help you to be a productive employee.
- Which jobs can you think of that require speaking skills?
- How would you describe your speaking skills to an employer if they asked you?
Problem Solving is a skill in high demand across all types of workplaces and there is great value in those that can find quick, effective solutions. Complex problem-solving skills are particularly in demand in fast-growing, highly skilled managerial, professional and technical occupations. Few employees, whether in manual or knowledge-based occupations, now use repetitive actions to perform their job so more problems are likely to arise. Therefore, effective Problem Solving is a valued skill.
- How might different industries use Problem Solving skills e.g. construction, finance, retail, health?
- Can you think of an example where you have used Problem Solving skills, e.g. evaluating pros and cons?
There are a number of industries that centre around the skill of Creativity such as design, architecture and theatre. However, the ability to innovate and evaluate is a skill required across a myriad of careers. Employers are increasingly driven by innovations – both the development of incremental improvements and also new thinking that draws together ideas in new ways to create value.
- Which unexpected industries do you think value innovation and idea generation (i.e. Creativity!)?
- How would you describe your creativity skills to a potential employer?
Whether working for a company or if you are self-employed, the skill of Staying Positive is crucial in the workplace. The jobs market is increasingly competitive and the ability to stay positive can help you to navigate this complex environment. In any role you will undoubtedly make some mistakes and it is important to know how to bounce back and find opportunities in setbacks. By demonstrating this skill to others, you also show potential to support and manage others effectively.
- How do you think people in the world of work have used their Staying Positive skills over the last year?
- How have you used your Staying Positive skill recently, and how would you sell this to at an interview?
Aiming High is really important in the workplace, where employees often need to set themselves targets linked to company aims, their personal development or wider aspirations. Most jobs need employees to be capable of planning and self- structuring their time in order to be successful. Looking to the future, employability trends suggest a continuing rise of less ‘linear’ careers and self-employment which will require self-management skills like Aiming High to set goals, find opportunities and make plans.
- Which jobs require individuals to plan ahead, set goals and aim high?
- Which examples of setting goals and Aiming High would you share if an employer asked you about them?
In the workplace, you might often be given opportunities to demonstrate your Leadership. This might be through supporting others to do their jobs, leading on a project or sale, or heading a team to develop a new product or process. If you are able to effectively lead a team it will demonstrate that you are responsible and motivated, and it will support you to build good relationships with others. Leadership opportunities are often seen as aspirational: more scope to influence change, higher pay and autonomy.
- How do you think entry level roles and more junior positions use Leadership skills (hint: they still do!)?
- Can you describe a time you have shows good leadership, even when you haven’t been “in charge” of the group?
Teamwork is a crucial skill in the workplace. Many jobs require you to work in teams and sometimes you will rely on others to support you to complete your task. In the workplace, you are rarely able to choose who you work with, and the type of teams you are part of may vary depending on your job role. It is important to demonstrate your professionalism by effectively working with others, regardless of the circumstances.
- Why is Teamwork so important in the world of work, consider remote working as well as where people are in the same room
- How might you describe your ability to work with others on an application form, or in a CV?