What Are Conceptual Skills: Definition and Examples
When thinking of the best skills to develop or improve upon, consider conceptual skills. Conceptual skills group skills, such as decision-making, interpersonal, and analytical abilities together. These skills are useful in any industry or role as they make it easier to understand complicated ideas and come up with a creative approach that other people may not consider.
In this article, we look further into what conceptual skills are, examples of conceptual skills, how to develop or improve them and ways to highlight your skills when applying to jobs.
What are conceptual skills?
Conceptual skills encompass any skill that allows you to process and understand complex scenarios and develop a creative solution to them. These skills are well-sought after in candidates for any role or industry. They're great for managerial roles, but conceptual skills can help anyone that deals with challenges at work.
Conceptual skills allow candidates to think of innovative, creative ideas to set their company apart from its competitors. They can help candidates become better managers to lead their teams to success. With so many uses for conceptual skills, they are some of the best transferable skills to develop, especially if you plan to pursue a managerial role at some point in your career.
Related: A Guide to Soft Skills
Examples of conceptual skills
There are plenty of different conceptual skills, but here are some of the most sought-after ones by employers.
Analytical skills are vital to conceptualizing problems at work, helping you come up with a creative solution. Being able to analyze all the information presented to you lets you break the problem down, making it easier to conquer.
Having strong analytical skills is not only good for solving problems either. You may need to analyze how your department is doing by looking at sales or financial records. Or, you may need to develop new policies and analyzing old ones to see what's working and what isn't is one of the best ways to do so. Ultimately, good analytical skills are one of the best abilities for any employee to have.
Another great conceptual skill to have is strong decision-making skills. This allows you to solve problems quickly after considering all aspects of the problem. This is especially useful for managers as they often make decisions independently or have the final say after discussing it with their team. That being said, any employee can benefit from good decision-making skills as it shows employers you're independent and able to make decisions that have the company's best interest in mind.
Creative thinking skills
Creativity at work is not only useful in artistic industries or roles, like graphic designers. It's a great skill for anyone to have, as creative thinking allows you to look at a problem from different perspectives. This is a great way to think of new ideas or concepts on your own. Most companies have competitors, so employers are always looking for candidates that can think outside the box, which having creative thinking skills allows you to do.
Critical thinking skills
Critical thinking often goes hand-in-hand with creative thinking. It's important to have both skills in many roles so you can think of creative but realistic ideas. Critically thinking allows you to brainstorm what is best for the company in the long run. This is a great skill for managers to have as they often have multiple people giving them ideas and they have to think critically about what is the best option.
Having strong communication skills may not seem like a conceptual ability, but it is. It allows you to listen to other people or problems and share your solutions effectively. If you aren't able to communicate your ideas confidently, people will be less likely to listen. So, being able to think about good, creative ideas is important, but being able to communicate them is essential.
Similar to good communication skills, interpersonal skills are vital to having your ideas heard. If you aren't able to listen to other people or collaborate with them well, they will be less likely to listen to your ideas. Most jobs require you to work together, so having good interpersonal skills to brainstorm ideas for common issues will help you be noticed.
You may think that having good conceptual skills makes you a good leader, but the two aren't mutually exclusive. You can have the ability to come up with good ideas, but if you lack leadership skills, it will be harder to implement your vision. Developing your leadership skills, whether or not you're in a managerial role, will help you inspire your colleagues with your ideas and plans.
How to develop your conceptual skills
If you want to improve or develop your conceptual skills, consider these five steps:
1. Observe leaders around you
Good leaders need strong conceptual skills to thrive. So, observing leaders in your life or in the media is a great way to develop your conceptual skills. Observe how they process information, come up with ideas, and lead their team. Note skills or attributes that you want to work on yourself to be a better leader.
2. Identify problems and come up with solutions
After getting a better idea of the kind of leader you want to be, use existing challenges or problems as a case study to develop your skills. It can be problems at work, in the world, or in other people's lives. Research the problem and try to come up with a creative solution yourself. There's no right or wrong answer here as you are just practicing for when you need to make these types of decisions yourself.
3. Seek outside knowledge
Seeking outside knowledge is a great way to learn about different perspectives, helping you develop critical thinking skills. It can be through online courses, seminars, or articles. Anything that will give you deeper industry knowledge will help you develop your conceptual skills.
4. Communicate with those around you
As communication is one of the most important conceptual skills to have, developing it by talking to those around you, or to new people, is important. It will help you improve your communication and interpersonal skills, getting you ready for a leadership role where you must do so every day.
5. Find a mentor
Talking to your colleagues or friends and family is great for exposing yourself to different perspectives, but finding a mentor will help you guide your thinking. A mentor in your industry can help you develop conceptual skills as they should have an excellent skill set themselves. You can discuss a scenario that works for both of you, such as online meetings once a week. This allows you to ask for guidance and giving you an opportunity to discuss and polish your ideas.
How to emphasize your conceptual skills when applying for jobs
Now that you have the necessary conceptual skills, knowing how to highlight them when applying for jobs is important. Here are three ways you can do so:
1. Include conceptual skills on your resume
One of the best ways to emphasize your skills when applying for jobs is to include them in your resume. Look through job postings and note the skills employers mention a lot. If you have them, include them in the skills section of your resume.
Related: How to Write a Resume
2. Or in your cover letter
Including your skills in your resume is great, but it's limited. Resumes should only be around one page and the skills section is usually short bullet points that can get a hiring manager's attention. The cover letter is your opportunity to go into more detail about your conceptual skills. Mention one or two relevant ones and provide specific examples of how you used these skills successfully in your previous role. This will show employers that you have what it takes to succeed in the role you're applying to.
3. Express or discuss them in an interview
If your resume and cover letter worked, you will have the opportunity to interview with the company. It's always best to prepare for interviews beforehand by researching the company and the questions they may ask. Preparing potential answers ahead of time allows you to answer more confidently in the interview.
Employers usually ask a handful of behavioural or situational questions, such as, "Tell me about a time you solved an unexpected challenge at work." This is your opportunity to highlight your conceptual skills and show the employer that you have the necessary abilities. Like with your cover letter, try to mention specific examples of times you've used these skills successfully.
Related: How to Prepare for a Job Interview