Welcome to the third article in our National Careers Week series – the theme for 2022 is “Career. More than just a job” and we’ve taken an in-depth look into what your career actually is, and what you can do to take control over it.
Today, we’re thinking about core skills, and in other posts we’ll look at:
- The difference between career, job, and work
- What it means to be a lifelong learner
- When things go wrong and how to handle career chaos
- What is digital literacy and what does it mean for your career?
- When is the right time to start learning about careers
- How to find career-related information you can rely on
Have you heard of the Ten Core Skills? These are the skills you need to succeed in the workplace (no pressure), things like communication, initiative, and resilience.
You don’t have to have developed them all, and you don’t need to be strong in all areas – but knowing what the skills are and how you can improve them can put you in a better position once school is over.
Why is this? Because there’s a disconnect between what employers are looking for in an employee and the skills students have when they leave school. Most employers know they can train you how to use their particular operating system, but it’s much harder to teach you how to communicate politely with customers or turn up on time.
So, the first thing you need to do is identify which skills you have (and we can help with that), and the next thing is to match your skills with ways you can use them.
You can find all the Ten Core Skills here.
Problem solvers are useful in a workplace – they can find ways to keep working even if things go wrong, and look for ways to make things better.
If you’re a strong problem solver, you need to spell this out in any job application and provide evidence. This could be a report from a previous boss which talks about a problem you solved in the workplace, or evidence of setting up a community group or committee to tackle a local problem, for example.
Look for roles where you get to be part of the solution, and make suggestions when the opportunity arises. Be careful in new settings that you always check any solutions or changes with teammates before you implement them, in case there’s something down the track which may be impacted.
Learn more about problem solving here.
If you think about why something is the way it is, then you probably have critical thinking skills. These skills are really important when you need to check that your decisions are the right ones – they make you pause to question if you’re on the right track. For example, teachers need critical thinking skills to help them work out if students are actually learning the material they’re teaching.
If you have strong critical thinking skills then you might enjoy roles where you get to look for trends and underlying causes, such as data analysis or counselling.
Learn more about critical thinking here.
Also known as creativity, you could be innovative if you see things differently to people around you. This skill is super useful in a workplace where you can spot issues that others miss, and can come up with new ideas and solutions.
When we think of creativity we often think of artistic endeavours, but there’s more to it than that. You don’t need to paint to be innovative; you could look for roles where you design products, support business development, or engage young children with learning.
Learn more about innovation here.
Planning and Organisation
If you’re responsible for managing your tasks and keeping on top of your schedule then it’s likely that you have strong planning and organisation skills.
Employers love organised employees – it means they need to spend less time checking up on what you’re doing, and can trust you to work to the plan. If you’re someone who likes to be in control then you could look for roles where you have a higher level of autonomy so you can plan your own schedule, but if you like being organised and don’t need the control you might consider a role in the military, emergency services, or government.
Learn more about planning and organisation.
You don’t need to start your own business to have strong entrepreneurial skills. If you’re someone who likes working independently, doesn’t need a lot of feedback, and has confidence in your decisions then you could be strong in this area.
Look for roles which give you scope to grow and develop – many fields value entrepreneurial thinkers, because they get a lot done and come up with great solutions. You may also consider working for yourself, and if this is appealing look for support from the startup community in your local area.
Learn more about entrepreneurship.
Collaboration and Teamwork
Team players are highly sought after by employers. This skill requires the ability to listen, work cooperatively, and trust your team, and if you’ve worked well in teams before then you are likely to have developed this skill.
Obviously team-based workplaces will suit people who have strong collaboration skills, and these are often found in construction, healthcare, manufacturing, and business.
Learn more about collaboration and team work here.
Strong communicators can get the message across, and to be a strong communicator you’ll need to be able to listen, speak, read and write across a variety of mediums.
Communicators thrive in roles where they are often in contact with other people, and can make great administration staff where they pull everything together. Good communicators are also often good collaborators, so look out for roles where you can work with others and collaborate on tasks.
Learn more about communication here.
Initiative helps you get stuff done, and employers love people with strong initiative. These are the people who look for the next task as soon as they’ve finished one, and seek out ways to be more efficient.
If you are strong in this area you may prefer to work in a series of tasks, rather than complete repetitive tasks each shift, especially if you have no control over the speed in which you complete tasks. An example of this could be a bus driver who has to stick to their schedule, or an air traffic controller who can only handle the traffic as it arrives. Look for roles where you can complete projects or have an area you are responsible for.
Learn more about initiative.
Building resilience helps you handle setbacks and get back on task quickly, and people who’ve had to face challenges are often stronger in this skill.
Resilience can help you in any role, but is particularly useful for people who often face complex situations. For example, agriculture workers may not see returns for their work for months or years, and face problems which are outside of their control on a regular basis.
Learn more about resilience here.
Highly adaptable people can adjust to new situations quickly – this means they don’t take long to get used to new workplaces, equipment or people, and can get back to the task quickly when there are any changes.
Adaptability is useful in any role – it’s less specific than teamwork, for example – but most useful in roles where you often need to deal with new or different equipment, clients, or workplaces. An example would be an in-home aged care support worker, who visits many people in their homes.
Learn more about adaptability here.
Do any of these stand out for you? If anything resonated strongly it may be worth further investigation.
Next in the National Careers Week Series we’ll be looking at career chaos.