Top 10 Skills that Lead to Success

A man gets tutored from a professional about his laptop.

Succeeding in the civilian working world can seem unassailable, but there are a few core skills that will help boost your prospects. Whatever industry or career you're in, there are certain beneficial skills that are almost universally applicable to all professionals. If you can master them, you'll be on track to bigger and better opportunities. The best way to engage the civilian workplace is with knowledge and training, so consider these 10 items from U.S. News a priority on your self-improvement list.

1. The ability to sell.

You might not work in sales, but you're probably selling almost every day. Learning the art of selling goes far beyond the actual sales industry – the same techniques and tactics sales associates use will benefit anyone who learns them. You may need to sell a project plan, or a product concept, and if you're applying for a job you'll need to sell yourself. Whatever the object or idea, if you teach yourself how to sell, your professional life will be much easier.

2. Skills that are transferable.

Transferable skills aren't necessarily specific, they're any skills and abilities you've have that can be used elsewhere. The key to leveraging them is understanding that they're there in the first place. No matter what your work history is, you've more than likely gained a few soft business skills. For example, working in the military has given you an appreciation for timeliness, adherence to standards, and impeccable presentation. The possibilities are nearly endless, so take stock of your work history and figure out how many soft business skills you've picked up.

3. Knowing when and how to ask.

Asking is one of the best tools you can have in the professional world. There's a whole lot of information out there that you don't know, and sometimes the only way to learn is to ask. Moreover, asking is sometimes the only thing that will bring a raise or a promotion. Whether you need to learn more about your job and industry or you're trying to get ahead, learn how to ask and you'll only be your career.

4. Coding.

Not every employee needs to learn how to create fully functioning programs, that's what coders and engineers are for. But knowing a modest amount about code will seriously boost your skills suite. An increasing number of office positions require cursory knowledge of code, and knowing how your software works will give you an advantage in the workplace. Furthermore, coding knowledge will help you set realistic expectations on your engineering teams and provide for clearer communication.

5. Communication skills.

Everyone claims to have them, but communication skills are not easy to master. The ability to communicate clearly is golden in any industry. The overwhelming majority of jobs require professionals to work with teams of various sizes, so sending and receiving ideas is imperative to success. Everyone could use brushing up on the communication skills, so polish yours to a fine sheen.

6. Interpersonal Skills.

If you're working, you're working with people, so working doing that well should be on the top of any professional's self-improvement list. You don't have to be sunshine and smiles every minute of every day, but learning how to be pleasant, empathetic, and effective in working with others will go a very long way. Not only will your projects run more smoothly, but strong interpersonal skills will help you get promoted or earn a raise. It's hard to pin accolades on someone who's seen as ornery and difficult to work with. But for all the introverts and curmudgeons out there: don't stress. Building work relationships doesn't require anything extreme as long as you understand how your actions impact others and what effective communication entails.

7. Project Management.

Project management tends to be an underappreciated skill because laying out a plan isn't as sexy as having a winning idea. But, that creates massive opportunity: if you can master project management skills, you will be able to produce results in an optimal way while your coworkers scramble to hit deadlines. Project management isn't intuitive, but it's critical in any work environment.

8. Self-Starter.

Who's running your company? Who's in charge of your department? Who's telling you what to do? Whether or not you have crystal-clear answers to these questions, being a self-starter will help. Companies value employees who are self-starters because they can operate independently while keeping company goals in mind. Having this skill marks you out as someone who only needs direction and encouragement, not strict oversight and constant refocusing.

9. Curiosity.

If you really want to pull ahead, you need to have curiosity. Advancing your career is rarely going to be well structured – the paths to bigger salaries and better positions are numerous and require varying types of experience and knowledge. Curious people try to learn as much as they can wherever they are, and doing so in a business setting is extremely beneficial. How do other departments run? What are the main goals of the company? Has anyone else discovered an easier or better way of doing the work that you do? Curiosity leads to asking important questions, and answering them will make you a stronger professional

10. Driving Results.

Business thrives on results: they're tangible and quantifiable. If you can produce them, you'll be that much more valuable to your employer. Get into the habit of setting targets and working towards hitting them. If you succeed, you'll be able to show off hard data that you are a strong asset to the company.

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