Skills You Should Master To Be Successful In Your Career6 minute
Clearly, putting on an awesome sauce tie and buying a new briefcase isn’t remotely sufficient to make a successful career today. The increasing access to information only means that any skill is relatively much easier to acquire than it used to be a decade ago.
Where does this leave those, who wish to really stand out?
There are skills that a course can teach you, then again, there are a vast set of skills you need as a base in order to really master growth in your career- ones that need practice and persistence.
In order to assist your career graph, we’ve created a list of some under both these categories - a curated list of 15 skills you must aim to master to be successful in any career in the 21st century.
Brace yourself, and get ready to take notes maybe?
1. Digital literacy
With the constant evolution of technology, it’s crucial that you yourself progress at an equal rate if you wish to advance in your career. Most jobs rely heavily on the latest technologies, and staying up to date on the newest versions of your company’s core programs helps make sure that you remain valuable, not easily replaceable.
Obtaining certifications latest technologies further increases your value as an employee. Even if your job role doesn’t directly define using these, here are some digital tools that are quite commonly used in most business and that you could aim to have on your fingertips:
- Coding languages like Java, Python, Ruby
- Social media
- Digital marketing and analytics
- Productivity increasing tools
If you’re an introvert who chose to stay loyal to a desk job for the rest of your life, you still need this skill. To be an initiator doesn’t necessarily always means taking charge. In fact, it’s quite different from leadership.
To acquire this skill means to have a proactive approach in your field of expertise - not a reactive one. Read that again. Novel ideas emerge from this kind of approach, and who knows, you might be the one discovering the colour palette for your new website - simply by doing the groundwork and initiating the suggestion based on your research!
This might sound like the most obvious skill to possess even before starting your career, but one that people often struggle with. Productivity might just be the one thing keeping you back from climbing the career ladder.
Although being productive is sort of an abstract concept, what defines it is generally universal: Spend more of your time doing what’s important to you. For some, completing a task list before 5:00 p.m. makes them feel productive, but for others, productivity could mean putting family & friends time first to make lasting memories and have a great work-life balance. So make the most of your time.
How to start suddenly increasing your productivity overnight? Well, you can’t. But here are a few steps to follow, that sure as hell have proven to be handy:
Spot and then List what’s important to you. (In an order) This boils down to self-awareness. Knowing exactly what you’re working towards is a highly motivating factor. Periodically assess your productivity to make sure that your actions are, in fact, taking your career in a direction you’re satisfied with. Know what your goals are and align your action steps to support achieving these goals.
Eyes solely on what’s important to you. This step involves the setting of goals. Once you have successfully identified what you want, whether it’s a huge raise, a promotion or starting your own business, keeping an end goal in the front of your mind is going to subconsciously propel you to take actions that assist in reaching the goal.
Make (more) time for what’s important to you. After you’re done identifying and setting your goals, you’ve got to follow through. It’s easy to make excuses and procrastinate. A lot of people put off reaching goals because they are “too busy” and “don’t have time” to pursue advancements when they’re juggling to keep up with deadlines day after day.
But ask yourself this, is the present you more important than a newer version with a 10 fold progress mark? If you don’t want to stay in your current rut, you have to get off that cushiony wagon and make time for tasks that help reach your goals.
4. Public Speaking
If you think you can get away with public speaking and interactions with desk jobs, you’re probably wrong. Employees are assessed and judged based on their ability to converse right from the first interview to the first client meeting.
Public speaking is indeed a very crucial skill to possess, and requires a lot of self-confidence, practice, and analysing your audience. Even though it comes naturally to many people, it is important to remember that a skill like this can be acquired.
After all, when you meet potential clients, or even a friend, a stranger and speak of your job, you’re basically acting as a representative of your company.
It is only fair that they would rather hire someone who can carry themselves well while also expressing the values and products of the company. At that minute of conversation, you are what the company looks like.
5. Project Management
Project management skills are a set of highly desirable tools that provide processes and guidelines to streamline all your projects. Possessing and mastering these tools is important to help you and your team complete tasks or projects on time and within budget rather seamlessly.
Further, with a combination of project management, organizational and problem-solving skills, you’d be able to quickly strategize and prioritize all the steps your team is required to deliver a project within given parameters, impressing upper management and giving you a huge competitive advantage when it’s time for promotions.
Some popular (free) project management tools include Trello, Nifty, TeamGantt, nTask and Zenkit. If you do wish to eventually step up and be a delegator of tasks, you have to know what tools best help you delegate.
It is a known fact that the skills used by a marketer are applicable to every profession. Marketers use tools that cost nothing such as active listening and observing, asking of questions and also make use of tech tools available to them to provide good feedback and accurate interpretations of what works and what doesn’t.
For example, a good digital marketer would test the running of ads on two different social media platforms to assess which does better, only then go ahead and allocate a huge budget toward the platform that gives better leads.
Churning out a way to connect with your audience is a skill that is not limited to marketers, as the skill required to understand, reach out and effectively communicate is universal across all professions.
7. Story Telling
Think beyond the basics of verbal and written communication. One of the most critical skills you need to possess for the next decade is that of storytelling. This requires the ability to make sense of different pieces of information and present it in a way that the other person remains immersed in your narrative, can seamlessly understand it and fully remember it as well.
Whether you’re making a presentation or simply submitting a document, own the story and how it lands on the reader/listener. Excellent command over language is not as critical but what matters most is stepping into your audience’s shoes and working hard to communicate in a relatable, somewhat entertaining and informative manner.
According to Sir Michael Moritz (an investor), this is the single biggest skill required by a modern entrepreneur too. If you can tell well, you can sell well.
Possessing knowledge of the many principles and methods of promotion, presentation and sale of products and services is critical, no matter what your role is. At any given point in time, you could be approached with an opportunity to promote or speak of your company and its products or services to the people you meet.
It could simply be promoting these to a friend/acquaintance or a more formal environment where you’re pulled in for a meeting or a project pitch.
Having some knowledge of at least the basic marketing strategies as well as a bunch of sales techniques and sales control systems may sure as hell come in handy at such times. It’s the mantra that most startup companies follow today. Every single member on the team is a potential spokesperson for the brand.
9. Web Development
The essential component of web development is the ability to read and write in a programming language, otherwise popularly known as coding. These languages, or codes, are what create applications and websites, and commands them to run properly.
Open your phone and see how many apps you alone have installed on this one single device. Every new service is going to be a website or an app eventually - simply because it’s convenient.
Even if you have nothing to do with the IT department of your company, it is so very important because the skills needed to succeed in web development, such as the ability to visualize, connect and communicate information, are the very same skills you will use on a daily basis.
The authoritative command of these skills gets more work done, creates new ways of doing things and is something that will definitely put you in the limelight.
Wait, what? Again? Ugh.
Even if your job has nothing to do with textbook mathematics involving arithmetic, algebra, calculus, geometry and statistics, possessing a basic knowledge of these may become crucial at some stage.
The thing is, with the entire hiring process going digital today, the initial rounds of evaluation are done via online aptitude tests that comprise of sub-sections involving everyone’s worst nightmare - maths.
Hence, refreshing your knowledge of mathematics is often an essential part of sustaining a competitive advantage in the job market.
Statistics, in particular, may come in handy on the job, as you might need to produce graphs and figures by analysing quantitative data at least at some point in your career- especially in roles like BD, sales, tech, market research and the like.
Businesses will continue to require people who are capable of smart negotiations and who achieve closures in sales, service and business transactions.
A good deal always requires the ability to negotiate well, and you would be surprised by the number of courses that are available online to master this art.
Whether or not you’re in sales, the art of reaching an agreement with a third party will always boost your career and be used in team discussions, presentations and client/vendor interactions to sharpen your saw.
At the end of the day, a successful negotiation enables one to crack a better deal for their company than what’s on the table, so it is pretty much a mandatory skill.
12. Mastering Tech Basis
According to a McKinsey report, India is the second-fastest digitising economy in the world! This is obviously not going to slow down anytime soon - especially when the economy aspires to grow manifold.
So, when we speak of technology that is responsible for transforming and disrupting your life, industry and role, you cannot just be a silent observer. Does this mean you have to be a coder in order to survive? No.
But you must aim to be an early adopter or a market leader in using technology. In order to stay relevant and grow into the next decade, you have to be able to correctly include technology at the design stage, know how it could be programmed to alter outcomes in current processes and also learn how to apply the latest tech at your workplace to maximise your productivity.
For example, if you work in the HR department, it would be useful to stay up to date with the latest HR analytical tools launched.
Innovation, by a simple dictionary definition, is the ability to improve a process, deliver efficient products and services to market and to overall improve the profitability of a company.
Innovative thinking needs creativity and a willingness to take risks of employing unconventional methods to do things in the interest of improving existing processes and creating new ones.
Innovative thinkers also tend to be problem solvers, and the science of innovative problem solving is a quality that employers in every field appreciate highly.
14. Wearing Multiple Hats
Doesn’t quite sound like a skill, does it? Stay with me. In theory, when someone is offered a job, there is a JD (job description) included in the contract.
However, in reality, employees aren’t expected to stick to only what comes under their job description, and this is especially true if you aspire to work with or own a startup.
A few hands run the entire show in startup companies, with little budget to expand teams in early stages. So if there’s a skill gap that exists, you’d be expected to fill in.
You’d most likely be expected to get involved in many other areas of the business, understand all the various steps involved, and offer help where ever necessary.
At the end of the day, employers look for someone who is willing to try out different things, wear multiple hats at the same time, deal with different projects and individuals, and provide more than a sole contribution to the company at a time.
15. Management Skills
The ability to manage people itself is a very strong skill to have. In any profession, if you’re a consultant, a doctor or a designer, management skills will help you inspire individuals to do what is right as well as guide them along the way, and you can monitor their progress with every step. The ability to lead a group and manage individuals in a way that doesn’t impede their progress or insult their work/judgement is highly desirable in today’s workplace.
With the GenYs taking over the workplace, and their strong desire to be left alone to do what they need to do, it is important to have managers that know exactly how to lead and manage teams in a way that leaves all employees enough room to come up with their novel own ways of doing things. Exhibiting strong leadership skills is hence a huge advantage in today’s work environment.
16. Interpersonal Skills
In order to advance in your career, it becomes essential to continuously develop and improve your interpersonal skills. Interpersonal skills assist you to effectively communicate with others in a rather clear, respectful yet concise manner. These skills also show how to interact with other people and work as part of a team, which can sometimes be just as important as possessing technical knowledge regarding your job, if not more.
Here’s a list of online courses that can help you gain a massive competitive advantage in almost any field:
For Digital Marketing:
For Branding and Product Management:
For Deal Closures and Negotiations:
For Web Development:
For Interpersonal and Soft Skills: