Developing Proficient Organizational Skills

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated August 19, 2022

Published May 17, 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.

Having strong organizational skills increases your performance and productivity within your career, and you can use them in all areas of your life. Recruiters and hiring managers look for candidates to demonstrate organizational skills within their resume and during an interview. In this article, we discuss why developing organizational skills is critical to your career success. We also discuss how you can communicate your organization skills to potential employers with eight tips for developing more organizational proficiency.

What are organizational skills?

Organizational skills are skills that allow you to maintain structure and organization in your life. Well-developed organizational abilities are a transferable skill that you always have with you, regardless of your employer or situation. Employers seek candidates with practical organizational skills, as the employee is more efficient and effective within their job.

Related: What Are Organizational Skills? (With Improvement Tips)

What are the benefits of good organizational skills?

Organizational skills benefit both a company and an employee. As a business, hiring staff with proficiency in organization helps the company to operate successfully. Organized employees work efficiently and effectively, increasing overall production. Increased production often equates to increased profits for a business. Employees with organizational skills are more likely to consistently meet the company's goals, providing growth and opportunity for a successful business.

As an employee or candidate, there are several advantages to developing your organizational skills. Having a solid foundation in practical organization principles supports the development of other skills and abilities. You become more productive in your work and, as a result, may receive leadership opportunities, mentoring or higher-level responsibilities. You also reduce the chance to develop poor habits such as lack of preparation, being late with deadlines or procrastination.

Related: Guide To Organizational Behaviour Principles

Examples of organizational skills

We typically categorize organizational skills into two distinct groups: external and internal. External organizational skills include how you arrange your physical environment and how you handle physical tasks, such as filing, documentation and record-keeping. Internal organizational skills focus on inner characteristics of reasoning, planning and time management. It's critical to develop both external and internal organizational skills as you use them together to achieve goals, manage your time and work efficiently.

External organizational skills

External or physical organizational skills correspond to your outer environment. This includes how you arrange your workspace, how you manage your files and even how you set up your email inbox. Some examples of external organizational skills include:

Workspace arrangement

Keeping a clean workspace free of clutter can dramatically improve your productivity and organization. By not hunting for a pen or an important file, you demonstrate that you have your physical environment under control.

When setting up your workspace, consider your daily workflow to organize your space most effectively. Create a space for files, pens and pencils and other office supplies to maximize your efficiency. Include a waste and recycling bin to dispose quickly of unnecessary papers and items that can collect on your desk or workspace. Ensure to tidy up your space weekly to keep your workspace organized and a productive place to work.

Filing

Depending on your position, you may handle paper or digital documents, as well as emails. Regardless of the form, create folders to organize all essential records. You can create manual file folders for paper copies, organized by date, name, location or topic. If you deal mainly with digital files, create folders on your computer drive. Find an organizational system that works best for you and stick to it for all documents.

Email is another area you can use organizational skills to manage your inbox effectively. Most email programs allow you to create folders within the program, enabling you to move important emails into areas for safekeeping. You can typically generate automation events with email programs, such as flagging messages by certain individuals or tagging messages with specific subject lines.

Having a systematic filing protocol allows you to find essential documents quickly. For example, your manager may request an update on a project, and by knowing where your files are located, you can provide an answer quickly.

Documentation

You may document information in various ways throughout your workday, such as taking notes at a project meeting, brainstorming a new sales initiative or developing a client marketing schedule. Documentation provides you with an opportunity to build your organizational skills throughout the documenting process. For example, you attend a project meeting and take detailed notes. You then must file or organize your notes to find them easily later on. Creating and managing your documentation with paper, videos, voice recordings or photos can provide helpful information for projects and goals.

Record keeping

Record keeping is typically used for formal situations, such as client meetings, strategic planning or project management. Having organized records allow for others to access and use them quickly and efficiently. By developing your organizational skills, you can keep highly detailed and accurate records, which employers and customers value.

Internal organizational skills

Internal organizational skills correspond to your inner environment. Strong internal organizational skills allow you to complete essential projects, solve complex problems and build collaborative teams. Some examples of internal organizational skills include:

Analysis and critical thinking

Thinking critically, conducting research, analyzing data and solving complex problems requires solid organizational skills. Your mind must be clear of clutter and have the ability to reason to process large amounts of data and spot patterns. Organizational skills provide the framework for this type of mental work.

Collaboration and teamwork

Collaboration and teamwork require working effectively with others, bringing together diverse expertise and leading a team towards a common goal. Coordinating various schedules, planning team meetings and delegating project tasks all take organization to manage effectively. Practice your skills by volunteering to lead group meetings or organize team schedules.

Planning

Understanding what to do, when to do it, and how to do it most effectively is critical to staying organized. Effective planning considers timelines, resources like money or labour and unexpected circumstances. Organizational skills include all types of planning, such as formal project management, creating yearly career development goals or planning a retirement party for a colleague.

Time management

Time management is another essential component of practical organizational skills. Understanding the time a specific task takes, scheduling appointments to account for people running late and upholding project deadlines are critical skills of a successful employee.

How to communicate organizational skills to potential employers

When searching for a new job, communicating your organizational skills effectively to potential employers creates a positive impression. It shows your ability to perform well in the position and other related skills and abilities that you bring as an employee to benefit the company. There are two ways to communicate your organizational skills to potential employers:

1. Demonstrate and describe your organizational skills in your resume

Your resume creates the initial impression to a recruiter or hiring manager of your skills and abilities to perform well in a job. Create a positive opinion by demonstrating your organizational skills with a clear, concise and thoughtful resume structure. Use a simple resume format that is easy to read and provides a logical order of information. Organization also requires attention to detail, so ensure your resume is free from grammatical errors and spelling mistakes.

You can highlight your organizational skills in your resume summary, skills section and work experience. When writing your resume, include action words that detail your duties and responsibilities. Match keywords from the job description with compelling action words to show how your experience provides you with the skills needed for the job.

2. Display and discuss your organizational skills during your interview

Your second opportunity to create a positive impression of your organizational skills is during your interview. Follow proper interview etiquette by showing up a few minutes early, demonstrating your time management skills. Come prepared with copies of your resume, a notebook and other necessary documents. Complete research on the company before the interview to show your ability to analyze and think critically.

When answering questions during the interview, take a moment to compose your response and provide a thoughtful answer. Use the STAR method when responding to a request for examples. The STAR method focuses on four key areas and, in sequence, provides a concise and well-formed response. Display your organizational skills that involve reasoning, problem-solving or creative thinking by discussing why you proceeded with a specific action or task. For example, explain the reason behind selecting particular team members to collaborate on a project that you completed successfully.

Eight tips to developing strong organizational skills

Like any other skill, organization can be learned, developed and improved with time and conscious effort. Implement these eight simple tips to begin your organizational development today:

  • Design a clean workspace. An uncluttered workspace is productive and efficient.

  • Establish career and personal goals. Goal setting requires organization of time and resources.

  • Start a to-do list. Having a running to-do list provides you with essential tasks that you'll need to organize.

  • Prioritize each task. Setting priorities is an essential part of your organizational skills development.

  • Input tasks into a schedule. This improves your time management and prioritization skills.

  • Organize your materials. Systemize your external environment by filing important documents and organizing your inbox.

  • Reward yourself regularly. When developing any new habit, it's essential to recognize and reward your progress.

  • Maintain a healthy work-life balance. Use your expanding organizational skills to benefit your professional and personal life.


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