If you’re currently a student who’s discerning which career pathway is the right one for you, you’re probably thinking about it in terms of actual career titles.
You may be exploring particular professions, for example, that of being a doctor or lawyer, because these careers typically come with prestige and high compensation. Or, like your peers, you may be considering a career in a fast-moving industry like the tech sector. The assumption is that your title, your repertoire of technical or “hard” skills, and your experience in a competitive industry are what will make you a valuable employee.
Truth be told, however, while all of these definitely matter for specific jobs, there are some all-around skills that you can hone to make yourself a marketable employee in any career.
It may be a good idea to put just as much emphasis on building these skills as you would on acquiring knowledge and experience for a particular career. That way, you can also keep your options open in the future and adapt more easily to the rapidly changing job landscape.
Below is a list of seven skills that will set you apart from your peers when you start your professional life in earnest. You’ll be able to pick them up in high school, for example within the framework of the International Baccalaureate (IB) Programme at one of the top IB schools in Singapore, or in your university years (either in the classroom or during hands-on training opportunities like internships). Consider looking for opportunities, both inside and outside of school, to upskill yourself in the following:
Even if you’re not out to write the next big novel, writing skills are a big plus in virtually any profession. Employers from all sectors value people who are good with words and who know how to use written language to fulfill specific objectives.
You may find yourself in a position where you have to prepare written correspondence or a document like a project proposal. In situations like these, you’ll be glad you sharpened your writing skills.
Public Speaking and Presentation Skills
Public speaking and presentation skills are also widely valued in industries as diverse as advertising and the non-government organization (NGO) sector.
If you can speak clearly and with confidence, as well as create succinct but interesting presentations, you’ll eventually be entrusted with important duties like pitching a product or service or presenting an overview of a company project to higher-ups.
If you know that you won’t be working alone in your chosen profession, it’s also good to work on your interpersonal skills.
You don’t need to be naturally friendly or extroverted to be able to connect with people and find common ground with them.
Once you’ve learned interpersonal skills like how to empathize and how to exchange feedback in a constructive, yet encouraging way, you’ll establish your value as a team player within your organization.
The Ability to Lead a Team
Some people seem naturally born with leadership skills, but it’s important for students of all dispositions to know that leadership can be learned and practiced.
That being said, it’s a good idea to learn how to lead and to step up in roles where you feel comfortable leading. Gaining credentials as a leader for your class, academic committee, club, sports team, or civic organization could prepare you for a leadership role in any industry that you’ll join in your future career.
Digital Literacy Skills
It’s no secret that today’s world is widely shaped by technology. That makes digital literacy one of the most sought-after skills from future-generation professionals, especially now that many global industries are looking to modernize.
It will serve you well to learn about different technologies and how you can use them to do tasks like cull information and communicating with others. The digital literacy skills that you learn in school and in more hands-on training experiences will make you a valuable addition to any company in any industry.
Critical Thinking Skills
Another top-ranked skill according to employers who were recently surveyed by the American Association of Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) is critical thinking.
In a world where both individuals and organizations are troubled by problems like fake news and propaganda, employers are looking for people who can tell truths from falsehoods, ask the right questions, and think carefully about what they’re being presented with as opposed to believing in things wholesale.
Luckily, many high schools, colleges, and universities are training students to form curious and critical minds. Consider finding ways to sharpen your critical thinking skills before you put them to good use in your future profession.
Whether your future career involves the arts, the humanities, the hard sciences, or entrepreneurship, creativity is definitely a skill that you’ll want to exercise often.
Abilities like thinking outside the box and being resourceful with what you have will serve you well in lots of situations, from needing to work with a meager company budget to finding fresh new ways to market a product.
If the school or co-curricular programs you’re part of offer multiple options for honing your creative skills, don’t hesitate to take them and to work on nurturing your creative side. A lot of these programs at school act as catalysts for creativity and innovation.
In no way are these the only skills that will set you apart from others in a good way, but they’re great starting points for any career option you may currently be considering.
Think carefully about which of these skills you should prioritize, as well as how you think they’ll apply to your situation once you begin your dream job.