Honing skills for career longevity

by Oct 21, 2020

Once upon a time the average person honed very specific skills for their career, applied to a single company, was given gainful employment for decades, and then retired with a pension from that same employer. Nowadays, the average amount of time someone spends at a job is just 4.2 years

In other words, modern careers are mobile, temporary, and always changing.

If you’re getting ready to land your first job out of uni, it’s important to understand what skills are necessary to maintain a long, successful 21st-century career when you know you’re unlikely to remain at the same job for more than a half of a decade at a time. 

That said, here are a few of the most important transferable skills that can go with you from one employer to the next, helping you stand out no matter what company, industry, or culture you find yourself in.

Work on Your Interpersonal Skills

With cold, calculating technology dominating the modern business landscape more than ever before, good, old-fashioned interpersonal skills have never been more valuable. The ability to interact with fellow human beings in a positive, constructive, and productive manner is a trait that most recruiters will have at a premium.

Therefore, if you want to maintain a competitive edge over other candidates and coworkers throughout your career, strive to cultivate various interpersonal skills in the here and now, such as:

  • Learning to approach people. 
  • Communicating effectively.
  • Receiving criticism with grace.
  • Practicing active and empathetic listening.

If you can successfully interact with other human beings, you’ll always be able to bring an attractive personal touch to any interview, project, job, or task that you may find yourself a part of.

Learn to Manage Your Time

Time is the same everywhere. As such, it’s critical that you learn to master your time management skills. Whether it’s scheduling your work week, setting reminders for deadlines, juggling projects, avoiding procrastinating on work, or even knowing when to tap out and rest, mastering time will serve you well no matter where you may find yourself in the future.

Develop Your Problem Solving Skills

You don’t have to be Spock to learn how to use logic. Developing your ability to apply logic and use problem-solving is an essential skill for any workplace. Logistic professionals are an excellent example of an inter-industry career that thrives on logic as they organise inventory, manage employees, and run facilities. They regularly apply powerful logic-related skills such as:

  • Thinking critically and analytically.
  • Adapting and properly managing time.
  • Researching and keeping up with industry developments and news.
  • Learning and applying new technology.
  • Viewing situations from a big-picture perspective.

If you can develop your ability to problem solve by using a variety of different logic and logistics-based skills, you can utilise that knowledge to overcome challenges in nearly any business environment.

Practise Being a Team Player

Unless you plan on becoming a famous writer and holing up like a hermit in an isolated cabin all of your days, you’re going to spend most of your professional career working with other people. We’re not just talking about basic communication here, either. You’ll need to collectively collaborate and work towards a common goal.

That’s why it’s essential that you practise being a team player. This includes knowing your role in a larger organisation, listening, sharing ideas, being flexible, collaborating, and all other attributes that are required to be an effective team player

Hone Your Leadership Abilities

Positivity and drive are key elements that can help an employee stand out from the competition. By learning to see each situation with a “cup half full” mentality, you can always stay one step ahead of those who give in to pessimism, desperation, and frustration.

Once again, the ability to remain positive and forward-thinking rests on multiple “sub-skills,” most of which revolve around developing your raw leadership abilities. These include:

  • Listening and communicating.
  • Showing empathy and emotional intelligence.
  • Maintaining values and integrity.
  • Developing and pursuing a vision.
  • Effectively managing and empowering those around you.

If you can hone these skills and use them to stay positive and motivated, you’ll be able to maintain initiative and upward momentum at each and every one of your workplaces. 

Keeping the Long Game in Mind

When you’re coming out of uni, it’s easy to get focused on the short term. Building a resume, learning how to nail applications and interviews, and landing your first job are all exciting achievements in those initial months and years. 

However, it’s also critical that you keep the long game in mind. Chances are you’ll move around a bit over the course of your career, and as such, it’s important that you develop key skills like time management, problem-solving, and learning to be a leader and a team player. If you can develop and expand on these basic professional building blocks, you’ll be able to find and maintain success, no matter where the winds may take you. 


So look at the list above, identify your weak spots, and start honing those skills for your career today, so that you can find greater success tomorrow.


Featured image courtesy of Unsplash

Charlie Fletcher

Charlie Fletcher

Freelance Writer

Charlie Fletcher is a freelance writer from the lovely “city of trees”- Boise, Idaho. Her love of writing pairs with her passion for social activism and search for the truth. You can follow her work at charliefletcher.contently.com