7 key strengths to help you advance your career prospects
Updated 30 September 2022
Employers increasingly look to hire individuals who can be an asset to their company. When you have a diverse skill set to offer, employers are likely to select your CV and offer you a chance to show your potential. To make your resume as attractive as possible, it's essential to focus on developing some key skills. In this article, we'll discuss some key strengths that you can work on to achieve success in your career.
What are key strengths?
Your key strengths are what you bring to the company, whether they're knowledge-based skills, like problem-solving or personality traits like conscientiousness. These skills or abilities can help you build your own 'brand' in the workplace, impress potential employers and advance your career. These skills are versatile and transferable, so you can leverage them in any job you take. These skills are also useful in personal settings, such as punctuality or problem-solving.
The best key strengths to develop
Many key skills vary from person to person, but everyone can benefit from improving some transferable skills. You can focus on developing these seven key skills for advancing your career prospects:
1. Effective communication
If you want to advance your career, then you may want to start working on your communication skills. As a good communicator, you can convey your thoughts, listen to others and successfully develop meaningful relationships. To improve your communication skills, practise speaking efficiently without using too many words to explain a basic concept. If you're taking the initiative to pitch an idea to your team, try sounding as confident as possible. If your team doesn't resonate with your idea, try negotiating with them to reach a middle ground.
Part of being a good communicator is also being a good listener. Instead of trying to make every conversation about yourself, try lending a supportive ear to your friends and colleagues. Since these communication skills are socially preferable, employers are likely to value you more.
Once you perfect the skill of initiating and carrying conversations, you can move to the next important key strength: networking. Part of communicating effectively means having a large pool of acquaintances that you interact with regularly. Since you never know where your next career advancement opportunity could come from, it's beneficial to keep your options open by building a larger network.
If people know about you and your primary skills, they're more likely to refer you for career advancement opportunities, such as a well-paid job. From meeting colleagues regularly to posting on your social media accounts, networking is an easy way to maintain a useful social circle. Members in your network can tell you of potential job opportunities, and you can also discuss industry-specific topics with them to know about trending patterns.
Related: Networking tips for job seekers
This is a key strength that you can develop over time. The best leaders are those who know how to provide direction and motivation to their team to achieve a collective goal. To become an effective leader, consider taking up more opportunities that put you in a managerial position, such as leading projects or giving presentations.
Planning and coordination, conflict management and decision-making all fall under the umbrella of leadership. These traits are important to employers, since they prefer hiring individuals who strive through challenging situations in the workplace. With enough practice, it's possible to develop great leadership and management skills that could help advance your career by making you a more attractive candidate for employers.
Related: Top 9 leadership skills to develop
Self-management is all about keeping yourself organised and motivated. Businesses prefer hiring self-driven individuals who can get the job done efficiently without requiring much intervention. Practise self-management by prioritising tasks, maintaining a set routine and learning to work under pressure. Once you start taking responsibility for your work, you may find yourself determined to perform better to meet all deadlines. This key strength can help you evaluate your actions, make better decisions and avoid conflict as much as possible.
5. Research and planning
When you work in a rapidly changing industry, planning and research skills are necessary for creating a roadmap for your future. In marketing departments, for instance, companies expect employees to remain up to date with the latest trends and competitors' strategies. Research and planning skills are necessary to keep up with the dynamic nature of modern workplaces.
With the right research and planning abilities, you can provide valuable insight to your employers. It's also important to know how to evaluate existing data to create models that deliver valuable information. Some transferable research skills that are currently in demand include:
knowledge of the latest technology
predicting future trends
6. Critical thinking and judgement
Critical thinking skills in almost every line of work. This key strength relies on your ability to learn from experience, gather insightful information and arrive at the best possible conclusion. In most situations, critical thinking can help individuals find the most effective solution to a problem. Critical thinkers are able to evaluate different factors when analysing a situation without letting their personal biases affect their judgement.
Critical thinkers are also open to change and suggestions to improve the outcome. By making critical thinking one of your main strengths, you can learn to differentiate between relevant and irrelevant information. With this skill, you can become a more strategic leader who makes informed decisions after carefully analysing the available data.
7. Time management
Another key strength that employers value greatly is time management. Employers want their teams to meet deadlines and prove their competence under pressure. If you can complete all your assigned tasks on time, then it's likely that you're good at managing time. If you struggle with time management, it's possible to train yourself and organise your tasks more efficiently. Consider adopting a more realistic approach to your capabilities and lessening your workload if you think it's not possible to meet a deadline.
As you get better at it, you can take on more work. Once you learn how to manage time effectively, you can add more things to your schedule by planning for them beforehand. Individuals who are good at time management tend to lead less stressful lives and motivate others to manage their time effectively as well.
How to highlight key skills on your CV
Adding a skills section to your CV is also important. You can write any soft or transferable skill in this section. Employers view this part of the CV as a way of getting to know an applicant, especially by focusing on their personality traits. Many people include a list of socially popular skills in this section, which may include good communication, critical thinking and time management.
Simply listing your transferable skills in this section may not be enough to impress a prospective employer. It's also important to highlight how you leveraged these skills in your previous job. For example, writing 'good leadership skills' on your CV offers little value to a recruitment manager. You can provide specific examples and quantify the results under this heading to make your CV more attractive.
Related: CV format guide: examples and tips
Benefits of key skills in the workplace
A diverse set of key skills helps you develop your 'personal brand' in the workplace. This is your way of reinforcing the value you bring to the company and differentiating yourself from other employees in the same business. Here are some more benefits of developing and using these skills:
Higher job satisfaction
Your job satisfaction automatically increases in most cases if you know how to communicate better and manage your time effectively. With an impressive performance record and consistent rewards, you're more likely to feel satisfied with your job and enjoy your work. Higher job satisfaction usually means less stress and a better work-life balance.
Knowing exactly what to do and how to do it can give you a motivational boost. Instead of delaying tasks or procrastinating, having a key strength like time management can help you become more productive in the workplace. Last-minute submissions and late deadlines aren't a problem for productive employees, and they are also more content with their jobs.
Effective communication and planning skills are necessary to integrate and work in a team. Working with colleagues can help you to improve communication and recognise others' strengths and weaknesses. The team works more efficiently as a result, and each member gets the chance to learn from others.
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