What Are Skills? (With Tips on How to Improve Them)
In order to complete tasks successfully, you should have knowledge, ability and competence. These qualities, known as skills, can be developed to help you gain expertise in a specific area. This expertise can translate into greater success in your career and other areas of life. In this article, we provide an in-depth look at skills as they pertain to the workforce.
What are skills?
Skill is a term that encompasses the knowledge, competencies and abilities to perform operational tasks. Skills are developed through life and work experiences and they can also be learned through study. There are different types of skills and some may be easier to access for some people than others, based on things like dexterity, physical abilities and intelligence.
Skills can also be measured, and levels determined by skill tests. Most jobs require multiple skills, and likewise, some skills will be more useful for certain professions than others.
Example of skills
There are several skill categories that you might decide to develop. Below are examples of types of skills and the kinds of competencies you could gain by mastering a skill type:
Employers look for candidates with skills that can add to the workplace to ensure a job is performed properly and the worker is able to adapt to handling increased responsibilities. Job skills include:
Mentoring and coaching
Ability to meet deadlines
The following skills fall under the category of leadership:
Offering sound advice
Attention to detail
Holding productive meetings
Business intelligence skills
In business environments, leaders must have the ability to organize both inputs and corresponding outcomes. Some organizational skills include that help with this include:
Ability to follow directions
Assessment and evaluation
Organization of thoughts
Filing and record-keeping
Skills are also transferable between jobs, life events and situations. Some personal life skills include:
Making a household budget
Basic finance skills
Creating a grocery list
Cleaning and tidying
Organizing the home
Making an organized list
Shopping for yourself and others
Sense of humor
How to improve skills
Improving your skills provides tremendous benefits in both your professional and personal lives. Improving your skills can open new doors to better opportunities. There are a few steps you can take to improve your skills:
Make a list of the skills you wish to improve
Dedicate yourself to improving your skills with investments
Set honest goals and milestones
Get a coach or mentor
Have a plan for improving the skill
Get some support
Monitor your progress
Have fun with the process
1. Make a list of the skills you wish to improve
Some skills are in more demand than others. Before you begin, make sure that your efforts are worthwhile with a skill that you will use. You can do this by making a list of all the skills that you need to enhance your life and career.
2. Dedicate yourself to improving your skills with investments
Understand why you are improving your skills, what motivates you and be prepared to make investments of time or money in skill development and training.
3. Set honest goals and milestones
Be honest about your skill level and realistic chances of improvement and create skill development timelines. Set honest and reliable goals that you are likely to be able to hit along the way.
4. Get a coach or mentor
This could be as simple as following the people that you admire who are good at doing what to wish to do. You may go as far as contacting them, when appropriate, through a networking relationship or business social networking website or professional organization.
5. Have a plan for improving the skill
Once you've established goals and milestones, you need a plan to enact them. This could include breaking down skill development into modules, or specific training initiatives or practice.
6. Get some support
Having a strong support system is a great asset when it comes to developing skills. Think about participating in activities through a professional organization, leadership training classes or other events that connect you with people who can support you.
7. Monitor your progress
Develop a system for feedback. You can record yourself, ask others, or benchmark your performance against suitable models.
8. Have fun with the process
Skill development and learning new things can be an enjoyable experience. Make the most of it by having fun along the way.
Skills in the workplace
The workplace provides opportunities to practice and improve on the job skills. Some highly desirable skills for the workplace include the following:
Problem-solving. Running into problems is almost a certainty in rapidly changing environments. You will be valued more with your ability to efficiently solve problems.
Communication. Others need to understand and appreciate the information and messages that you transfer. This includes the content as well as the intent.
Teamwork. Although there may be separate units, businesses function as a team. Your ability to work within the team becomes part of your job performance.
Time-management. Being able to manage your time when performing multiple tasks is also a determinant of your job performance.
Organizing and planning. Your job becomes much easier with proper organizing and planning of activities.
Learning. The ability to earn helps not only you but your employer, as you are able to add value by performing new tasks.
Decision-making. In any business, there are decisions made daily that affect how the business operates. The better you are at making good decisions, the more valued you become to the employer.
How to highlight skills
Employers are looking for evidence that your skills meet the company's requirements. When highlighting skills on your resume, you need more than a list of your qualifications and accomplishments.
Skills on a resume
Here a few steps to follow to highlight your skills:
Customize your resume for each position
Include the keywords that match the job description
Describe your skills with examples
Include appropriate soft skills that you believe to be needed for the job
Include quantities with your achievements
Include strong verbs and action words
Your narrative should be proud but not boastful
Skills for a cover letter
The skills you include in your cover letter should match those that you collect from the job description as well as your basic job skills: How you highlight your skills depends on your situation and the job for which you are applying.
If you are changing jobs or industries, you can wish to introduce a brief narrative of your transferable skills. The strongest way is to highlight your past achievements as they relate to the job for which you are applying.
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