14 Practical Skills That Are Useful in Any Workplace

Updated June 9, 2023

Professionals often use a plethora of practical skills to complete their duties efficiently, collaborate with colleagues and assist clients. There are many types of practical skills that employees can use to improve their productivity. If you want to improve your performance at work, reviewing examples of practical skills that may be useful to develop can help you achieve success in your role. In this article, we discuss practical skills by defining them and providing a list of 14 practical skills that professionals often use while working.

What are practical skills?

Practical skills are abilities that employees use daily to complete their tasks. These skills can include both hard skills, which are tangible abilities that you gain from learning, training and working, and soft skills, which are intangible characteristics you develop over a period of time, such as leadership, teamwork and problem-solving. It's often important for professionals to learn and develop these skills so they can improve their productivity and remain competitive when searching for new jobs.

Related: 6 Important Job Skills You Can Learn at Work (And How To Learn Them)

14 examples of practical skills that professionals use often

Here are 14 practical skills that professionals use frequently to complete their tasks:

1. Teamwork

This skill entails working with other professionals to complete a task or project. Teamwork skills allow you to effectively delegate tasks to members of your team and collaborate on group projects in order to efficiently perform tasks. Teamwork is an important skill to have because many employers require their employees to work collaboratively to complete projects.

2. Prioritization

These skills refer to prioritizing duties in an order you believe allows you to complete your tasks efficiently. For example, if you're a sales associate responsible for helping customers who require assistance but you also planned to restock your store's shelves, these skills can help you effectively complete these tasks in a logical order. In this situation, you might prioritize helping the customers since they may leave the store if they don't receive assistance quickly.

To learn how to prioritize, try to assess situations at work in which you have multiple tasks to complete simultaneously. Consider which ones are more important or time-sensitive, and those are the tasks you can prioritize.

3. Leadership

This skill entails the ability to manage and oversee the productivity and efficiency of a group of professionals. A leader typically possesses more responsibilities because, in addition to their own tasks, they ensure their group completes their duties and collaborates effectively. Even if you don't want to pursue management roles, leadership skills can still highlight your motivation and independence to employers. Opportunities to develop your leadership skills include asking for different or expanded responsibilities in your current role.

4. Communication

This skill allows you to effectively convey messages to other people and helps team members avoid misunderstandings. For example, if you work with team members frequently, you may communicate by asking questions or developing new ideas as a group. Communication skills require articulation and clear language. To improve your communication skills, try to practice active listening by clarifying what a speaker is saying and expressing your ideas clearly.

Related: 20 New Skills To Learn To Advance Your Career

5. Writing

These skills refer to clearly communicating ideas through written messages. For instance, many workplaces use email or messaging apps as their primary form of communication. If you email your peers multiple times throughout a workday to collaborate on a task, it's often essential to hone written communication skills. This can save you time by avoiding the need to send multiple emails and can highlight your professionalism. Consider practicing your writing skills by reading your messages aloud, as this can ensure readability and logic.

6. Interpersonal skills

These skills allow professionals to efficiently interact with other people and entail acquiring other subskills such as communication, active listening and understanding nonverbal cues, such as but not limited to body language. For example, active listening can indicate that you respect and acknowledge what a colleague is saying. You may employ interpersonal skills during brainstorming sessions with your peers or during individual meetings with your manager.

7. Public speaking

This ability refers to speaking in front of groups of people or presenting a topic to an audience. While you may not commonly speak in front of audiences, such as at a conference, this skill is still valuable for presenting during meetings, pitching an idea or performing a demonstration to customers. Public speaking requires communication skills and the ability to enunciate and explain ideas clearly. For example, you might explain how a product works to a client or how a marketing strategy functions to stakeholders.

8. Digital literacy

This skill entails being able to use computers and other technology proficiently. Although it's directly essential for programmers or technology specialists to possess digital literacy skills, it may still be beneficial to have basic knowledge of digital media concepts. Consider familiarizing yourself with particular email features, social media platforms and other simple programs such as a word processor or a spreadsheet software.

Read more: Basic Computer Skills: Definition and Examples

9. Problem-solving

These skills allow professionals to analyze an issue and consider possible solutions to resolve it. Professionals typically use problem-solving skills frequently in their workplaces, which can manifest in such tasks as solving an issue for a client, fixing a computer program or proposing methods for increasing sales. To develop or improve upon your problem-solving skills, consider defining an issue and analyzing potential outcomes. After accomplishing that, you can use critical thinking skills to propose possible solutions.

10. Speed reading

This refers to reading documents quickly and efficiently and allows professionals to manage their time wisely. Many professionals read emails, files, reports or other professional documents within a typical workday. To speed read, consider skimming or scanning documents that may not be essential to your productivity. Determining which documents are crucial to completing your tasks may help you determine which ones to read more thoroughly.

11. Researching

Research skills entail how professionals use resources, such as books, the internet or data, to learn more about a particular topic. Even if you don't hold a researcher position, you may still use this skill often. For instance, if you work in sales or marketing, you might research current consumer or product trends. If you work in product or project management positions, you may research what methods competitors with similar products are employing. When researching, try to solely use reputable sources and double-check your facts to ensure you're analyzing accurate information.

Read more: Research Skills: Definition and Examples

12. Creating application packages

This skill allows professionals to create their own resumes and cover letters. It's important to have this skill when applying to jobs because many companies request application materials from prospective employees. A resume can showcase your skills, experiences and education, while a cover letter explains why you're a qualified candidate. When writing your professional documents, try to read and revise them to ensure they're accurate and error-free.

13. Budgeting

This includes analyzing your personal or your company's finances and creating a budget based on expenses and profits. Some positions focus heavily on creating budgets, such as financial advisers or human resources managers. Other jobs, including managerial positions, may require you to create a budget for certain financial components of a business, such as supply management costs. Consider taking online classes to learn how to effectively create a budget, or your company may teach you how to accomplish this task during training.

14. Negotiation

These skills refer to discussing the terms of a particular contract or agreement. Many employees who hold sales positions use negotiation skills, but this skill may be helpful in several jobs. For example, you might negotiate your salary or benefits package with your employer. If you work in retail positions, you might negotiate the price of an item with a customer, depending on the industry in which you work. It's important to practice negotiation skills so you can finalize an agreement that satisfies all parties involved.

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