15 skills that are essential for career development

18 Nov 2022

Digital marketing

Claire Crompton

Claire Crompton

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Schools and universities often teach skills that can land you a great job, but they might neglect career development skills. If you want to grow and progress in your career, it can help to put extra time and effort into improving the essential skills for career development. From leadership to adaptability, here are 15 crucial skills that you’ll need on your journey to success.

1) Communication

It’s difficult to progress in any career without the right communication skills. Communication skills cover much more than being able to hold a conversation. In fact, the way that you speak, write, and listen all make up how well you communicate. Making sure to listen is a surefire way of honing your communication skills, as well as being able to speak your mind clearly. Non-verbal communication is also important – pay attention to your body language and be sure to make eye contact with whoever you’re speaking to.

The better your communication skills, the stronger your relationships with coworkers and networking contacts will be – which is one of the most important factors of career development.

2) Problem-solving

Problem-solving goes far beyond the old maths problems you had to tackle in school. Whether it’s how to boost traffic to your website, or the most efficient way to manage emails, good problem solving skills are essential – regardless of the industry. Employers will want an employee who can communicate well with coworkers in the event that something goes wrong. They should be able to confidently weigh up the pros and cons to find the best solution, which should, hopefully, get things back on track.

3) Teamwork

They say that teamwork makes the dream work – and this is especially true for career development. An employee that can’t work well with others can bring down company morale as well as hinder the team’s efficiency. Great teamwork can create impressive projects, and a business whose employees are able to work together seamlessly will perform much better than one that’s disconnected from each other.

members of a team gather round a table working together with great teamwork skills

4) Initiative

If you want to develop your career, then you have to take initiative. Very few employers will promote someone who doesn’t wow them, so you have to take it upon yourself to impress. Taking initiative means not waiting to be told what to do, and instead acting on any opportunities or improvements that you spot yourself. This is one of the most important career development skills, as your role won’t progress if the work that you produce isn’t also consistently improving.

5) Professionalism

Professionalism is crucial in all aspects of your career. This involves being reliable and competent in your role, as well as treating other colleagues with respect. Comments or actions that are inappropriate for the workplace will lead employers and coworkers to view you as unprofessional. Of course, there will be times where it’s appropriate to let your hair down – take a work night out as the perfect example – but it’s important to know the boundaries of the workplace and to remain professional in order to progress in your career.

6) Leadership

Leadership is one of the skills that will distinguish you from colleagues. The ability to step up into a leadership role is one of the best skills for career development that employers will really value. It’s a good idea to work on your leadership skills no matter your role, as the time may come when you’re needed to lead a team or project. Some examples of leadership skills are: knowing when to delegate; emotional intelligence; being reliable and trustworthy; and being flexible.

7) An eye for detail

Sometimes, the devil really is in the detail, and even the smallest oversights can halt the progression of your career. That’s why employers value an employee with a keen eye for detail – whether that’s keeping an eye out for any spelling mistakes, or making necessary enhancements. Make sure to take your time on projects, and don’t skip over tiny details that could be changed. It will definitely go far in the long run.

8) Proficient with technology

Technology is pretty much inescapable nowadays, especially in professional spaces. As well as the basic tech skills, you should get to grips with any specialist software that you’ll need to use. Taking some extra time to become a pro with the required tech is a surefire way to progress within your industry. Or, you could go above and beyond and learn some extra technology skills that are relevant to your dream role.

employee who is proficient with technology working at a desk surrounded by screens working on their career development

9) Adaptability

To progress within your career, adaptability is an essential skill to have under your belt. If you’re unable to adapt to changing circumstances, then moving up the career ladder will undoubtedly be a struggle. Career progression in itself is all about change, so your ability to handle change and use it to your advantage is paramount.

10) Self-management

Career progression often means stepping up into a higher role, potentially one where you’re managing others and, more importantly, yourself. Self-management is crucial for taking control of your own career and everyday work tasks. This means encouraging yourself to be productive, but also not overworking yourself, too. Essentially, embracing self-management will help you to progress to a role where you’re your own boss.

11) Planning and research

No matter the task at hand, effective planning and research will always benefit your efforts. This is true for both your everyday work tasks and your wider career plan. Make sure to research the best ways to reach your career goals so that you can plan accordingly. For example, specialising in certain areas may fastrack your career progression, which you will learn through the right research.

12) Networking

Sometimes, it’s all about who you know. Networking expands the people you know and can open doors to an abundance of opportunities. This can be through different techniques, such as improving your Linkedin presence, or attending physical or virtual networking events. Experts in your field can often give valuable career advice, and you may be met with exciting, new opportunities that you’d never heard of before.

group of professionals talking around a table at a networking event for career development

13) Negotiation and persuasion

Negotiation and persuasion skills can come in handy in numerous situations. From negotiating a promotion to persuading new clients to join, this is an important skill for career progression. Once you build up your confidence in everyday scenarios, negotiating in your workplace will become easier and your career will progress much faster. Negotiation and persuasion skills can be improved by actively listening in these situations. Showing empathy and brainstorming alternative options are also important for persuading someone to see your side of things.

14) Accepting criticism

It’s impossible to grow without reflecting back on yourself and your own work. So, it’s important that you understand how to accept and act on constructive criticism. Criticism from someone in your workplace usually won’t come from a malicious place. So, you should take the opportunity to improve your skills and the work you produce by listening to those around you. Someone who is defensive and unable to accept criticism may end up in a rut, halting their chances of career progression.

15) Work ethic

Last, but certainly not least, people looking to progress their career need a dedicated work ethic. From showing up on time to work, to completing tasks quickly and efficiently, you should remain dedicated to your career in order for it to grow. A good work ethic means committing yourself to doing the best job you can at all times, remaining reliable at all times necessary.

Career development is important no matter what field you’re in, from digital PR to paid social. Why not take a look at our Careers page to get started in a digital marketing career? Or, for specialist advice about all things SEO and PPC, get in touch with a member of our team

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