15 Professional Skills for the Workplace (Plus Definition and Tips)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 10 October 2022

Published 1 November 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.

Professionals in any industry can excel in their careers with the right professional skills. These skills can enable you to get a new job, progress in your career, build professional relationships and enhance your job performance. Understanding these skills in detail can help you take a more strategic approach to your own career. In this article, we look at 15 different categories of professional skills and provide advice on how to develop them.

Related: 10 Best Skills to Include on a CV

What are professional skills?

Professional skills provide you with the capability to succeed in your career. A professional skill refers to a habit, personality trait or ability that positively affects your performance at work. Possessing these skills is valuable to people in many jobs, positions, industries and work environments. They are extremely beneficial, as they can easily transfer from one job to another.

15 professional skills

Different types of roles typically require a distinct set of specific skills. However, there are core professional characteristics that apply to all professions. The following are 15 categories of soft skills that can help you to succeed in your professional career:

1. Leadership

Whether or not you work in a managerial role, leadership skills are a valuable asset throughout your career. Leadership skills enable you to motivate, instruct and provide guidance to others. People with leadership skills are confident in their ability to support others to do their job. They improve your ability to collaborate, problem-solve and remain vigilant in your role.

The following are skills you may want to develop to excel at leadership:

  • Confidence

  • People management

  • Accountability

  • Prioritisation

  • Motivational skills

  • Coaching

  • Project management

  • Analytical skills

  • Creativity

  • Mentorship

  • Inspirational abilities

  • Goal setting

  • Stress management

  • Politeness

Related: 10 Leadership Skills to Highlight In Your Resume

2. Teamwork

Having good interpersonal skills and the ability to work well with others is important in many professional roles. It encourages people to collaborate with others as they carry out their responsibilities. Professionals with teamwork skills know how to complete their duties while still being aware of others' assignments and needs.

Here are the skills you may wish to develop to improve your teamwork skills:

  • Cooperation

  • Reliability

  • Willingness to help others

  • Friendliness

  • Ability to persuade or convince others

  • Respectfulness

  • Tolerance

  • Working towards a common goal

  • Collaboration

3. Emotional intelligence

Emotional intelligence describes how we relate to others and how we perceive their behaviour. Those who have high levels of emotional intelligence are good at guessing how others feel based upon their actions, which are helpful in both professional and social environments. Emotional intelligence also helps you to be more aware of your feelings.

Consider developing the following skills if you would like to enhance your emotional intelligence:

  • Self-awareness

  • Empathy

  • Initiative

  • Conscientiousness, or the desire and ability to treat others well

  • Self-regulation

  • Trustworthiness

  • Sympathy

4. Organisation

Organisational skills enable you to complete your job responsibilities effectively. Those with good organisational skills know how to prioritise their workload and solve problems. Time management skills also allow you to be more organised as many roles require projects to be completed within strict deadlines.

Organisational skills include:

  • Stress management

  • Creation of plans

  • Delegation

  • Attention to details

  • Punctuality

  • Executive functioning, such as prioritising duties

  • Time management

  • Distribution of resources

  • Dependability

Related: 10 Effective Time Management Skills and Their Benefits

5. Flexibility

Being flexible enables you to adapt to various problems that may arise and changing circumstances in the workplace. Flexibility can enable you to come up with innovative solutions to problems. It can be very helpful when faced with a challenge at work that requires you to change the way you think, act and behave.

Consider developing the following skills to improve flexibility:

  • Remaining calm in stressful situations

  • Adaptability

  • Open-mindedness

  • Approaching challenges with a positive mindset

  • Proactiveness

  • Critical thinking

  • Patience

  • Willingness to consider additional information or change your opinion

  • Perceptiveness

6. Communication

Communication skills are key for most professions. Knowing how to communicate effectively, either verbally or via written emails and letters, is an important component of professional success. Those who are particularly skilled at communication are typically good at networking and are more able to negotiate.

Consider developing the following skills to improve your communication:

  • Conflict resolution

  • Etiquette

  • Advocacy

  • Networking

  • Business writing

  • Customer service

  • Facilitation

  • Kindness

  • Explaining their thought process behind decisions or actions

  • Respect

  • Clarity

  • Active listening

  • Negotiation

  • Concision, or using words efficiently

7. Self-motivated

Those who are self-motivated tend to be more resourceful. Self-motivation helps you to carry out your tasks and responsibilities with little oversight, as you're motivated to deliver the best work internally rather than because of external factors. Managers highly appreciate being able to work without the need to supervise your work, therefore, this skill can help you to progress in your career.

Consider developing to following skills to enhance your motivation:

  • Self-starter

  • Independence

  • Desire to achieve

  • Resilience

  • Commitment to goals

  • Optimism

  • Initiative

  • Ambition

  • Willingness to grow and change

8. Problem-solving

Most workplaces experience some form of unpredictability. Therefore, being able to solve problems and challenges when they arise is key to professional success. Problem-solving skills enable you to take a step back and assess any new conditions and develop effective strategies to overcome them.

Consider developing the following skills to enhance your problem-solving ability:

  • Risk management, or the ability to evaluate potential hazards of various plans

  • Innovation

  • Determination

  • Remaining calm during stressful situations

  • Analysis

  • Creativity

  • Understanding of data

  • Decision-making

  • Research abilities

9. Open to learning

Being open to learning new things is important for professional success. Those who seek to learn new skills and gain more knowledge are more likely to impress employers. The majority of jobs, organisations and industry sectors are likely to experience change over time, therefore being willing to adapt and learning new skills regularly can set you up for continued success.

Consider developing the following skills to demonstrate your openness to learning:

  • Receptiveness to constructive criticism

  • Enthusiasm

  • Openness to personal growth

  • Initiative

  • Learning agility, or the ability to develop new skills

  • Self-motivation

  • Continual engagement with industry, local, global or other news

10. Integrity

Someone with integrity is trustworthy, reliable and typically has a strong sense of ethics and personal values. People with a strong sense of integrity also take responsibility for their behaviour, including mistakes. Being known for your integrity can help you advance in your career, as it shows that you're dependable and can be trusted to carry out complex tasks while upholding the values of the company.

The following traits highlight your integrity:

  • Principled

  • Honesty

  • Trustworthiness

  • Understanding of ethics

  • Loyalty

  • Reliability

11. Self-confidence

Being self-confident means that you have faith in your professional ability to be successful in your role and carry out your job responsibilities. Demonstrating that you're confident in yourself can also help to convince your managers and potential employers that you're capable of taking on more responsibility. It also helps you to advance in your career, as self-confidence is an important trait for leading others.

Consider developing the following skills to express your self-confidence:

  • Courage

  • Self-awareness

  • Describing your abilities to others

  • Tenacity

  • Being assertive

  • Optimism

  • Determination

  • Self-reliance

  • Understanding and assessing your abilities

12. Public speaking

Being skilled at public speaking is helpful for career success. Skills in public speaking are useful for several circumstances, including speaking up during meetings and group brainstorming sessions or voicing your opinion to your colleagues. They can also help you communicate with different sorts of people and impress your managers.

Consider developing the following skills to enhance your public speaking skills:

  • Confidence

  • Poise

  • Awareness of body language

  • Planning your main talking points or ideas in advance

  • Leadership

  • Thinking and reacting to changes quickly

  • Clarity

  • Increasing the volume of your voice

  • Organising ideas

  • Articulation

  • Connecting with your audience, such as through eye contact

  • Altering vocal tone

  • Openness to constructive feedback

  • Concision

13. Open-minded

Being open-minded means you're more open to new ideas and ways of working. This also means you're more likely to listen to ideas and proposals from others. This can help you advance in your career, as you may be more willing to implement innovative solutions to problems and are skilled in communicating with people from different backgrounds or who hold different opinions.

Consider developing the following skills to enhance your open-mindedness:

  • Inquisitiveness

  • Considerate of others

  • Introspection, meaning the ability to evaluate your own thoughts and emotions

  • Empathy

  • Actively listening

  • Willingness to have new experiences

  • Positive thinking

14. Professionalism

Professionalism refers to the behaviours that demonstrate your respect for others and the role you have. Professionally conducting yourself means that you're courteous towards others and are reliable. This is key to career success and managers know they can depend on you to present the company in a good light. The skill highlights that people can trust you to carry out your role independently.

The following traits emphasise your professionalism:

  • Reliability

  • Kindness

  • Poise

  • Civility

  • Respectfulness

  • Accountability

  • Maturity

  • Communication

15. Positive attitude

Having a positive attitude means you're more optimistic and motivated in your role. This can also improve the mood of others around you and increase your sense of job satisfaction. Demonstrating a positive attitude towards your job can also advance your career as managers and potential employers like to recruit those who are passionate about their role.

The following traits and skills may relate to having a positive attitude:

  • Optimism

  • Enthusiasm

  • Passion

  • Cheerfulness

  • Finding alternative solutions

  • Helpful

  • Self-confidence

  • Energetic

  • Positive thinking

  • Receptive to feedback

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