20 Important Life Skills To Support Your Career Success

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 17 August 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Mastering essential abilities can help you face common challenges that come up at work and may even position you for advancement. Employers often look for specific life skills when interviewing job candidates. Developing these skills takes practice, development and an understanding that there is always room for improvement. In this article, we provide a list of 20 essential life skills and ways to improve them, to help support your career success.

20 essential life skills

Life skills are the skills you need to manage the activities and challenges of everyday life effectively. Mastery and development of these skills can improve all areas of your life, from your career to relationships. They allow you to handle almost everything better, from processing your emotions more effectively to interacting with others. These key abilities can vary according to a person's age or even their culture and can support career success in the workplace. To help you prepare for success in your search and career, here are 20 essential life skills to consider:

1. Writing

Most professional roles require writing in some capacity, whether it's drafting reports or communicating via email. This important life skill can help you succeed by helping you convey professionalism and achieve your objectives efficiently when your reader can understand your message clearly. Try practising your writing skills daily or enrolling in a professional writing course to develop this skill.

2. Public speaking

Many careers require public speaking skills. Public speaking can include formal presentations, such as a marketing pitch, or less formal situations such as speaking in staff meetings or even communicating with multiple customers at the same time. Improve your public speaking skills by practising your presentations ahead of time and asking a trusted friend or mentor to provide actionable feedback on your speaking skills.

3. Interpersonal communication

Writing and public speaking skills are both components of interpersonal communication. This important life skill also includes interactions such as individual conversations, instant messaging and even nonverbal communication. Leveraging strong interpersonal communication skills can help you develop positive workplace relationships which can support career success. Consider asking a trusted friend or mentor for feedback regarding your interpersonal communication skills to help improve in this area.

Related: 10 Effective Communication Skills for Career Success

4. Resilience

Resilience, or coping with challenges, is an important skill that can help you learn from your experiences and persevere in order to achieve success. A resilient mindset often comes with practice and thoughtful responses to challenging situations. Try researching resilience strategies to leverage this life skill in your own career.

5. Decision-making

Decision-making is a life skill that is essential both in and out of the workplace. Employers want candidates who know how to analyse situations, weigh different options and make the best possible decisions based on the information in front of them. Confidence can help you make meaningful decisions in your personal life and in your career. Decision-making skills can also include creative thinking, focus, prioritisation and time management.

6. Cooperation

To advance in your career, you must be able to cooperate with others and work as part of a team. Improving cooperation skills may require you to strengthen your conflict management skills, communication skills, leadership skills, empathy and teamwork skills. Practise cooperation by planning collaborative situations in advance or even taking training courses on interpersonal cooperative skills.

7. Prioritisation

Prioritising tasks that may compete for time and attention is a life skill that can help you succeed in your career. Many roles involve balancing multiple deadlines, for example, which means choosing which items are most important to accomplish first. Learn to prioritise effectively by discussing tasks and your decision-making process with a colleague or mentor.

8. Focus and attention

Focusing and allocating your attention to a selected task can help you work more effectively and efficiently. This skill is valuable in many career fields, especially those requiring attention to detail. Consider increasing your ability to focus in the workplace by minimising external distractions.

9. Etiquette and courtesy

Behaving with etiquette and courtesy can help you develop meaningful, mutually respectful relationships personally and at work. Consider words and actions that show respect to others. You may try observing a colleague or mentor you admire and emulating their behaviour to practise etiquette and courtesy in the workplace.

10. Emotional intelligence

Emotional intelligence refers to your ability to understand and empathise with other people's feelings. This important life skill can support meaningful, productive personal and professional relationships and high-quality customer service. Observe your interactions with others and reflect on your responses to others' experiences as a way to improve this important life skill.

Related: Interpersonal Skills: Definitions and Examples

11. Critical thinking

Critical thinking is an important life skill that involves understanding and evaluating ideas for their value in specific situations. This ability can help you make good decisions in most career fields. Try reflecting on information and on your decisions to help improve your critical thinking skills.

Related: Critical Thinking Skills: Definition and Examples

12. Ability to accept constructive criticism

Feedback and constructive criticism from supervisors and co-workers are a crucial part of learning and improving job performance. For that reason, you must be able to thoughtfully receive feedback and apply it to your work or behaviours. To accept feedback, you must be self-aware, have a desire to learn and grow and be humble. You must also maintain your professionalism.

13. Time management

Time management skills are essential for staying disciplined and meeting goals and deadlines. This skill also helps you balance work and personal goals so that you have more time for friends, family and outside interests. Managing time effectively can be crucial to your happiness in all areas of your life. Try using a paper planner or an electronic calendar to help with your time management skills.

14. Maths and logic

Mathematical and logical thinking are skills that can support your career success by supporting the accuracy of tasks such as balancing accounts, counting back change and solving logistical problems. Employers often value these skills as well. Consider improving these important competencies by taking relevant coursework, either in-person or online.

15. Technology

Technology skills can help you succeed at work and even in life outside your career. Be sure you are comfortable using the equipment and software that's standard in your office. Improving technology skills, including social media and online research tools, can help you succeed in your career. Consider pursuing training in specific technology tools and skills to cultivate this skill.

Related: Computer Skills: Definitions and Examples

16. Safety and emergency response

Safety awareness and emergency response skills may prove invaluable in the workplace and in your personal life. This may be particularly true in career fields that include physically demanding or hazardous tasks. Be sure to attend any required or recommended safety training for your role and complete any necessary certifications.

17. General maintenance

Knowing how to maintain your physical environment can help keep you and others around you comfortable. Making simple repairs, for example, can be a useful life skill that applies to many occupations. Try researching steps you can use to perform repairs and preventative maintenance when the need arises.

18. Financial literacy

Financial literacy is a life skill that can support your personal and career decisions in the context of budgeting and money. This may be particularly relevant in fields such as accounting, management and business. Consider reading financial literacy texts or even taking classes on financial management to increase your skill level in this area.

19. Self-care

Caring for your physical and mental wellbeing is a life skill that can help you stay calm and productive in the workplace and at home. This might include taking measures such as getting enough sleep, eating healthy food and exercising if possible. Reflect on your own personal needs and make a plan for self-care to achieve your wellness goals.

20. Life-long learning

The interest in and ability to learn new skills throughout life can help you stay current in best practices in your career field. This life skill can also provide personal satisfaction and enjoyment. Explore classes and learning opportunities through your employer, professional organisations and local academic institutions to pursue skills and knowledge that interest you and support your career.

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