Career Skills are the abilities you have to that enable you to do your job and to manage your career. These are over and above the skills and technical knowledge you need to perform the tasks that are part of your job.
They are the sum of your knowledge, skills and experience.
They will determine your success in decision making, influencing others and getting the job done (well).
They will ensure that you are able to get the job you want, negotiate your salary and are prepared for your future. The one that you want. (Not one that is dictated for you by others).
They fall into 3 broad categories:
Communication is the currency of work. It’s the mechanism of how work is done. Your interactions with others is how you build your reputation and relationships – and get stuff done.
Your Operating Style is how you work and importantly how you are seen to work. It is the expertise that underlies how you work and interact with others. It’s how you naturally work when you don’t think about how you are working!
Developing your career requires the skills to plan, negotiate, build networks, learn from your experiences and understand who you are. It’s also essential to develop the ability to recognize opportunities and threats (and be ready to act on them).
To learn more about how these skills help your career and what they are, keep reading…
Communication skills support your career by helping you get across:
- the value of what you do
- the contributions you make
- how well you are doing it
- what you need to do your job
- how you work with others
- the benefits for others of what you do
- who you are
There are numerous definitions and types of communication skills and no shortage of information available about what they are and how to improve yours. So we thought we’d throw our two cents in as well…
What they are…
In the context of career skills the 9 key areas of focus we’ve identified that enable you to communicate effectively are your abilities to:
- Choose your words – so what you mean to say is what is understood.
- Be heard – cut through the ‘noise’ of work so that what you say is listened to.
- Present to communicate what you have to say. Presentations are the ideal forum to ‘sell’ your value. If you’re centre stage – know how to take advantage of your time in the spotlight.
- Write well – to demonstrate your thinking, articulate your position and be clear in what you ask for.
- Speak with your actions – use your body language to show consistency with what you are saying.
- Engage – work with key stakeholders who are impacted by what you do or whose approval you need. It can be time consuming to get people on board and explain what you’re doing and what it means to them – but genuine rapport and understanding will be built. And even if you don’t persuade them to your point of you – they will respect you and your approach. These skills not include what you say but how you say it, when you say it and sometimes the order that you conduct your communications with others.
- Listen – two ears, one mouth. You know the drill.
- Adapt – whether it’s to different audiences or to different mediums the skill to adapt is powerful for effective communication. Knowing when to use the you appropriate stories, style and messaging will help you meet the needs and get your message across to your audience.
- Ask questions – the most powerful tool of them all. Asking questions will help you find out information you may never have had otherwise, confirm what you know (but give you credibility that you asked) and even provide a subtle way of demonstrating what you know or how much you understand about a topic through the quality of your questions.
Your Operating Style is what determines:
- your credibility and professional reputation
- whether other people want to work with you, for you or have you on their team
- how efficient and effective you are at your job
- how well you work with others
- the way you work
- the results you achieve
- the confidence others have in your abilities
Your Operating Style is not a ‘short-cut’ to being good at your job. Rather it is a set of skills that are fundamental to how you work (even when no-one is looking) that determine the way you work, how you get things done and how you work with others. They are simply put, fundamental to your career. So, what are they? We’re glad you asked…
What they are…
The skills that underpin your Operating Style are your abilities to:
- Be Seen – so that you can make your contributions known and appreciated. You don’t have to be a sickening self-promoter. But people do need to know you exist. And what you do.
- Meet successfully – meetings may be much maligned but they can be a valuable forum to move your work (and yourself ) forward.
- Work in teams – sometimes it just seems easier to do everything yourself. But in this era of specialization and ‘busy-ness’ it’s just not possible. The ability to play well with others in the sandpit of work (otherwise known as working well as part of a team) is essential.
- Negotiate – you don’t need to negotiate international peace treaties. But you do need to be able to reach agreements with others. From what you do to when you will do it and the the support you have to help you…every small agreement is a negotiation.
- Resolve conflict – these skills will help you work through issues and keep relationships intact .
- Lead – no matter what job you have, leadership skills help you work with others to achieve outcomes.
- Get back up – when things don’t go your way the resilience you demonstrate often positively impacts your credibility. And helps you cope better as well.
The skills to develop and manage your career enable you to:
- take control of your career
- improve performance in your current role
- develop the knowledge, skills and experience which will provide you the luxury of choice. Choice about what work you do, who you work for and where you work (to name a few!)
- build a support network and virtual team to support your goals
- recognize opportunities when they arise
- realize when change is ahead so that you are prepared
- negotiate the personal outcomes you want
- earn what you’re worth!
The skills you develop and the support you put in place to manage your career for the long term will also help you today. It’s human nature to evolve, transform and develop. Working towards the future you want will not only put you in the best position to get what you want, it will give you confidence about what you are doing today and the choices you are making. And theses skills also help you improve your performance in your current job. It’s a win-win!
What they are…
The skills to develop and manage your career include:
- Planning of you career – to ensure you achieve your dreams.
- Self awareness – to recognize your strengths and the opportunities to work on. It also helps you understand how you react to other people and in times of stress.
- Networking – build a unique collection of contacts who support you. They are a source of information, ideas and contacts.
- Working with mentors – to learn and bounce ideas and what might turn out to be not-so-crazy schemes you have.
- Knowing how to recognize when it’s time to move on – develop the skills so you can act when the time is right.
- Get the job you want – skills to make sure you’re the one they pick.
- Earn what your worth – know how and when to negotiate for you.
Ok…we get it…there seem to be an overwhelming number of skills you need to be successful in your career. And we haven’t even touched on the ones you need to do your job!
But like the old adage about the best way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time…the best way to develop you career skills is one idea, one area at a time.
Gather ideas, think about how they can work for you and try them out. And when they work (and they will!) integrate them into what you do. And hey presto…you have a new career skill!
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