Ten skills you might not know you had

By Nick Newman, founder and CEO of National Careers Week

When it comes to your career, you might not know what the future holds, but one thing is certain: whatever that future looks like, if you can build and develop a personal treasure chest of skills, it will serve you well throughout your life.

You already have more skills and qualities than perhaps you even know. I’ve put together a list of 10 really important personal skills and qualities that you may well recognise in yourself.

They are core personal qualities and skills that any employer in the world would recognise and value. I think of them as ‘portable skills.’ They are, quite simply, skills which you can apply throughout your life and to many different job roles. The more of these you have, or can acquire, the better your chances of finding work, changing jobs and being employable.

Your personal skill set includes your personal qualities – your way of being you. They’re important because they often define you and how others may think of you.

1. Trustworthiness

Your future success depends on the trust that others feel comfortable placing on you. Don’t forget this. Your personal brand goes with you from place to place and job to job and your personal reputation is key to your future success.

Can you be trusted? Do you demonstrate being trustworthy? When has someone shown their trust in you? What did that look like? Were you left in charge of someone or something?

There are many ways that being trusted plays out - but just think about it for a minute, how many ways are you trusted by those close and around you?

To be trusted and to be regarded as trustworthy is an honour – recognise it in yourself and your life, value it in yourself and your life.

2. Compassion

We live in unique and challenging times – there is no denying that. At the time of writing this article we are in the middle of a virus pandemic. I do believe that humans need a break from routine to be able to think differently, to challenge their normal way of being or working. We have witnessed some incredible stories of heroic actions and thoughtfulness at this time. It seems that our world has become a more caring and compassionate place.

Compassion is our new norm – showing understanding for others, trying to better understand the views and lifestyles of others, being less judgemental of others... being more compassionate. Empathy and compassion are qualities that translate into personal skills. Think about how understanding you have been in your past towards others and how you can continue to be mindful of this.

3. Patience

You need patience to learn. You need patience to improve and become the best you can be. Even those you think of as an overnight success, usually aren’t. They would have worked hard, prepared, learned and then executed their skill or talent.

Demonstrating patience can be as obvious as how you listen and wait your turn but it is also what you use to wait for the right moment – the right moment to speak, even the right moment to make that choice when gaming. How do you show patience in your life?

4. Determination

Whatever challenges and battles await you out there, a determined attitude is a very strong weapon to overcome them.

I’m not talking about blind optimism or misplaced confidence, I’m talking about facing tasks and challenges with a determined approach to that task and challenge. People give up for a variety of reasons, but champions in all walks of life will tell you their determination to do their best is what made them the best. It’s an inner drive, an inner energy that keeps you going. Think about what you’ve done in the past or are currently doing that may not even have happened without your determination.

5. Responsibility

Life needs us to be responsible – it starts with us being responsible for our own actions and develops into our responsibilities at home, work, and through sports and hobbies.

Being able to take on responsibility and to be able to thrive with this responsibility is definitely a skill which can be taken for granted. Think about how much responsibility you have and continue to have in your life – can you be relied on to do certain jobs and tasks? Do you get your work and chores done, do you think you do a good job? The more others rely on you the more responsibility you will gain. This is not for everyone; many do not want too many responsibilities – it’s about what works for each of us as individuals.

6. Reliability

Can you be relied on? If a friend asked you be somewhere at a certain time for a good reason, would you be there? When you wake up not feeling great and you have something to do or somewhere to go what do you do? Do you do your best and crack on with what’s needed or do you think to yourself someone else can deal with it?

Being reliable is like being trustworthy – others are choosing you to help them, support them, be there for them. Does this sound like you?

7. Inquisitiveness

It’s important to ask questions in life, without over-analysing every thought or action you may have or do. We can't learn without asking the questions. We can't achieve goals without answers to questions.

Progression of many kinds comes from being inquisitive – it's how we learn and improve. The ‘why?’ question must be one of the most popular questions of all time... and one of the most necessary. Be brave to question things that you don't understand – it is a strength not a weakness. Are you an inquisitive kind of person?

8. Communication

I wish I had a pound for every time a more mature employer has said to me “young people don’t have good communication skills!” How wrong of so many of them!

I don’t know many older folk that are able to juggle multiple conversations like young people – I watch my own children talking to friends when they’re gaming together whilst texting or on social media with other mates – all at the same time! This is complex communication. Think about how you communicate with your friends, family and carers. I have a feeling that you too have good communication skills and just do it without thinking?

9. Thoughtfulness

So, are you impulsive or thoughtful? Do you do stuff without thinking ... using instinct or because you just feel it’s the right thing to do?

Do you stop and think through things before you do them?

The answer I suspect is a bit of both? That’s ok and totally normal!

In a noisy world, taking time to think about stuff can be difficult, so we have to make that time. We cannot sit and think deeply about everything in life. It’s about balance, but it’s important to recognise that when faced with a problem then we must be prepared to think our way around it. Problem solving is a great skill to have – do you think about how things could be better? Do you think about how you could do things better? These are signs of thinking and planning, good skills that will always be in demand.

10. Generosity

Generosity comes in all shapes and sizes – I’m not talking about wealth or money here!

Being generous with your time, being generous with your understanding, this is what I’m talking about – it’s about giving time, thought and care for others around you in your life. People like spending time with people who have a generous manner and give them the time to better understand, help and share experiences.

A generous spirit in life will get you far – in the end being kind and generous will actually become a selfish act... because it will make you feel better about yourself too!

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