11 unique skills to impress recruiters and succeed at work

Updated 1 August 2023

As you apply for jobs and go through the recruitment and interview process, you may look to demonstrate personal qualities that can make you more attractive to employers. One way to attract their attention is to list unusual skills that candidates rarely mention in their applications. Learning about unique skills and ways to develop them can help you increase your employability. In this article, we discuss unique skills and share a list of 11 abilities you may develop to impress employers.

What are unique skills?

Unique skills are soft and hard competencies that job candidates rarely have or demonstrate during recruitment. In some industries, they include hard competencies, like the ability to use highly specialised software. There are also unique competencies which can apply to various, or all, industries and professions, like cross-cultural competence. Here are some benefits of developing unusual skills as a professional or job candidate:

Helps to attract recruiters' attention

Many candidates write job applications to match the job description that employers share. This often involves using the same words and phrases to describe responsibilities and skills. Although this method works when you want to pass applicant tracking software, it may not make your CV appear unique to recruiters when checking job applications manually. Including an unusual ability relevant to the role demonstrates your strong understanding of the profession.

Related: Guide: 15 good work qualities to help impress employers

Improves your job performance

Having a wide range of unusual skills may help you be more efficient and effective at work. By using competencies that no other colleague has, you can support your team in reaching common goals and completing projects on time. In some instances, your unique abilities may also help you position yourself as knowledgeable and allow you to explore career advancement opportunities within the organisation.

Related: 11 motivation strategies to stimulate performance at work

Increases your adaptability

Many unique abilities you can develop are soft skills, which may help you quickly adjust to a new working environment. By increasing your adaptability, you make changing jobs or advancing your career less stressful for yourself. It also helps your colleagues and supervisor, as they may spend less time explaining new processes and responsibilities to you.

Related: Develop your career with adaptability training: a guide

11 unique abilities to impress recruiters

When deciding which unusual skills to develop, you may consider your interests, career aspiration, natural talents and potential. It's also beneficial to work on competencies that you know employers might appreciate. Here are some unique professional abilities you can develop to impress recruiters:

Action bias

Action bias is a tendency to favour action over inaction. For some people with this skill, action bias is an automatic response. It's also possible to develop it by recognising the importance and benefits of using critical thinking to make decisions and immediately act upon them. In some instances, action bias might affect people's perception of situations and negatively impact their decisions. To avoid that, consider different strategies and viewpoints, for example, by asking colleagues about their suggestions and ideas.

Related: How to write an action plan to help you achieve your goals

Adaptive thinking

Adaptive thinking is the ability to consider different perspectives and responses when handling unexpected or new situations. Demonstrating this unique ability during recruitment tells employers that you can quickly adapt to changing work conditions. This may help you even when the change only applies to how you perform your tasks without impacting your physical environment.

To strengthen your adaptive thinking, it's beneficial that you're flexible and understanding at work. It's also useful when you know effective risk-taking strategies. Adaptive thinkers also develop their skill sets by learning to question authorities to identify the best solutions for challenges.

Related: What are adaptability skills and how can they benefit you?


Cleanliness is the ability to keep your environment clutter-free. It's highly useful when your job requires strong organisation and involves responsibilities like document or file management. Cleanliness can also help you work in a team, as you can use it to introduce more clarity into group discussions and challenging situations.

Cross-cultural competence

Cross-cultural competence is the ability to recognise the importance of and understand different cultures. This skill is especially useful within organisations that nurture a collaborative, inclusive and diverse company culture. With this type of competence, you can effectively interact with business partners and colleagues regardless of their backgrounds, preferences or habits. To develop this ability, you can explore self-learning opportunities or attend off-the-job cross-cultural training.

Related: 9 sample diversity interview questions and answers

Digital technology proficiency

It's a standard for many companies to use technology to improve, streamline and automate processes. Showing digital proficiency communicates to employers that you can not only use basic computer software, including email or word processing tools but also quickly learn more advanced software simply because you understand how computers work. Some employers may also ask you to utilise your digital proficiency to help less tech-savvy employees learn to automate their work by using digital and online tools.

Related: What are digital skills and why are they important on a CV?

Futuristic thinking

Futuristic thinking is the ability to imagine and envision results or situations that haven't yet happened. People who think this way use historical information and current data to help predict trends or imagine where an organisation can end up based on the different decisions that executives make. Having this unique competency is especially useful when you aspire to work in business development or growth hacking, but almost any industry requires professionals with the ability to analyse the present reality to make insightful conclusions about the future.

Related: How to be a great innovation manager (with skills and tips)


Harmony is a soft skill that supports your conflict management efforts. When you develop this ability, you may find it easier to find consensus in challenging situations, including during conflicts. People with a harmonious approach are effective mediators who help colleagues with opposite ideas or views find common ground and solutions that benefit everyone, both individually and as a group.


Self-motivation is a skill that drives you to perform tasks and duties effectively. It helps you build awareness of why you're aiming to complete a certain task and encourages you to continue working until you succeed. By developing a strong sense of self-motivation, you can become more determined and achieve more goals. Self-motivation helps with increasing your productivity and simply making you feel proud of every little or big goal you accomplish.

Related: How to be self-motivated (with steps, tips and an example)


Sense-making is the ability to give meaning to situations, ideas and experiences. People with this skill can effectively collect, analyse and organise data. They can use that data to connect various seemingly unrelated pieces of information to help others find meaning or answers to questions. Sense-making is a sub-skill of decision-making and critical thinking.

Social intelligence

Social intelligence is a soft relationship-based skill that helps you understand how others feel, what they think and how they might behave. Social intelligence improves your ability to form and nurture positive professional relationships with colleagues, supervisors, clients or business partners. It also impacts how you present yourself to others, making it easier to make a great first impression during meetings or job interviews. Here are some traits of people with strong social intelligence:

  • wisdom

  • courage

  • humanity

  • transcendence

  • justice

Related: 5 emotional management skills (with definition and benefits)

Virtual collaboration

Virtual collaboration refers to the ability to communicate and work effectively with your team without physically existing in the same space. To facilitate virtual collaboration, you can use various digital tools, including chats and video conferences. It's also helpful if you're aware of the rules of virtual correspondence. Developing strong virtual collaboration skills makes you a more attractive candidate for employers who look for remote employees. If you have a job and develop this skill, your employer may be more prone to agree that you transition to a more flexible schedule and work from home.


Related articles

11 top job skills: transferable skills for any industry

Explore more articles

  • How to write a housekeeping CV (with template and example)
  • How to write a chef cover letter (with template and example)
  • How To Write a Motivation Letter
  • Guide to writing a compelling teacher CV
  • How To Write a Marketing Cover Letter To Impress Employers
  • A guide to customer service assistant skills (with examples)
  • Nursery practitioner CV examples (and how to write one)
  • How to write a software tester cover letter (with example)
  • Writing a biomedical science CV (with template and example)
  • Accounting assistant skills: definition and examples
  • When and how to use 'Dear Recruitment Manager' in a cover letter
  • How To Write a Fashion Designer Cover Letter (With Two Examples)