What Are Skills? (Examples and How to Develop Them)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published May 23, 2022

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.

A skill is the knowledge or ability required to complete a task or job. You can learn or develop skills with practice and dedication. These skills can help you develop stronger relationships and achieve your goals more efficiently. In this article, we answer the question "What are skills?" examine the various types of skills, learn their importance, and suggest a few tips on how to improve them.

What are skills?

Learning the answer to "What are skills?" can help you succeed in your career and excel at various stages of life. Skill is the ability to perform a specific task or activity effectively. You can gain skills through a variety of life experiences and formal education. Employers look for certain skills and qualities among prospective employees in addition to academic qualifications. By utilizing your skills, you can lead a more fulfilling and successful life, both professionally and personally.

Related: Hard Skills vs. Soft Skills

Why are skills important?

Skills are important in the workplace, which is why employers recognize their importance when considering applicants. Skills play an instrumental role in finding a job and growing your career. Below are some reasons why skills are important:

Maintaining relationships

Skills are not only crucial to work relationships, but also determine your success at interacting with clients and business partners. It's important for employers to hire people who can represent the company in a professional manner. In every industry, people with technical expertise and good soft skills are assets.

Networking

Building a personal network and making contacts at work require soft skills. With strong networking skills, an individual can pursue professional opportunities and quickly gain industry knowledge. Businesses rely on people with strong professional networks to facilitate business connections and provide career development.

Related: Guidelines on How to Network

Promote growth

Soft skills, such as accepting and implementing feedback, are difficult to acquire. Employers look for candidates who are not only open to criticism but also constantly strive to improve their skills. Individuals who can accept feedback and make improvements have the potential to grow both professionally and personally.

Develop leadership

Developing leadership skills enables people to identify the types of strategies their teams require to succeed. They can be a valuable asset to business by helping build strong teams and ensuring that projects, initiatives, and other tasks get accomplished. When businesses have effective leadership, they can achieve great success.

Related: Guidelines on Effective Leadership in the Workplace

Boost confidence

You can navigate workplace issues more confidently if you've strong social skills. When you develop soft skills and have confidence, you can easily integrate into your new workplace and become a valuable member of the team. Having confidence in your abilities can enhance the quality of your work and make you more valuable to employers.

Types of skills

You can choose to develop skills in several different categories. Hard skills refer to specific technical expertise, whereas soft skills are traits such as leadership, communication, and time management. Listed below are a few examples of important soft skills and hard skills:

Communication skills

A successful business depends on effective communication in the workplace. Maintaining a clear understanding of responsibilities ensures client and employee satisfaction, keeps employees engaged and productive and helps build quality client and employee relationships. Listening, observing, and empathizing are essential for effective communication. Communicating effectively is critical at every level of an organization.

Technical skills

Engineering, IT, math, finance, and mechanics are among the fields that demand technical skills. Technical skills usually involve knowledge of software, tools, and machinery. Mastering them usually requires extensive training. These skills depend greatly on the job and the industry. For instance, if you want to be a computer programmer it's essential to be proficient in coding whereas if you want to be a mechanical engineer it's necessary to have competency in engineering design and computer-aided design (CAD).

Related: Technical Skills: Definitions and Examples

Interpersonal skills

Many employers interview candidates based on strong interpersonal skills because they're always looking for new ways to improve customer-staff interactions. The ability to communicate effectively with others and listen attentively are key characteristics of interpersonal skills. The development of interpersonal skills is essential to be able to work effectively with others, solve problems, and lead projects. Typically, these traits include empathy, listening skills, ability to present, assertiveness, and conflict management skills.

Leadership qualities

Leadership is essential for any business, organization, or company to achieve success. A successful business requires effective leadership. You can administer tasks and guide people more effectively when you've good managerial skills. Good managers and leaders support their teams and projects by being organized, empathetic, and communicating clearly. The competence of managers also depends on their ability to master a variety of soft skills and technical knowledge.

Time management

By managing your time well, you can meet deadlines on projects and maintain a work-life balance. Being organized can help you prioritize your workday. You can determine the best way to manage your time by thoroughly understanding your personal, team, and company goals. The related time management skills can include delegating tasks, goal setting, prioritization, organization, and managing multiple tasks.

Problem-solving ability

The ability to solve problems is an essential skill in every career. Problem-solving abilities involve identifying the cause of the problem and finding a swift solution. Your role might require you to develop technical skills unique to your industry or role. Related problem-solving skills may include attention to detail, collaborations, communication, patience, and research.

Creativity

When solving a problem, creativity is the ability to look at a situation differently and propose innovative solutions. It enables you to find innovative solutions to complex problems. The ability to be creative can be a valuable tool at the workplace for generating new ideas, improving efficiency, and finding solutions to challenging problems.

Transferable skills

You can transfer skills from one job to another as you change careers. Employers often look for candidates who possess soft skills, such as flexibility, organization, and teamwork. If you're applying for a position in a different industry, you can emphasize your transferrable skills to highlight your past experience. This helps the employer gauge if you're the right fit for the job role. Some transferable skills include creativity, empathy, leadership qualities, teamwork, and problem-solving abilities.

Read more: Transferable Skills: Definition and Examples

How to improve your skills?

Enhancing your skills can benefit you both professionally and personally. You can discover new opportunities by improving your skills. Below are some tips for improving your skills:

  • List the skills you wish to improve.

  • Invest in improving your skills.

  • Decide on clear goals and milestones.

  • Develop a plan for improving your skills.

  • Consult a coach or mentor.

  • Assess your progress.

  • Don't hesitate to ask for help.

  • Ask for feedback and make improvements.

How to highlight your skills?

It's important to demonstrate to an employer that your skills match the needs of the company. A CV's skills section highlights your ability to succeed in the role. It's common for employers to pay close attention to the skills section on your CV to determine whether you qualify for the position. The following are some ways in which you can emphasize your skills:

Skills on a resume

You can demonstrate your skills on your CV by following these steps:

  • Prepare a customized CV for each position.

  • Include any keywords that are relevant to the job description.

  • Describe your skills in more detail using examples.

  • Include soft skills that you believe are essential for the job.

  • Mention your achievements.

  • Make sure to include strong verbs and action words.

  • Don't forget to mention your extra-circular skills.

Related: What is the Standard Canadian Resume Format? (With 7 Tips)

Skills on a cover letter

With a cover letter, you have an excellent opportunity to share how your skills can be applied to a prospective job. Employers are able to discover more about you and what you can do when you highlight your relevant skills in your cover letter. Here are a few steps to highlight your skills on a cover letter:

  • Make a list of cover letter skills. Make a list of your transferable skills from your previous jobs. These skills may include communication skills, interpersonal skills, leadership qualities, conflict resolution skills, and time management.

  • Highlight your past experiences. Regardless of your professional background, chances are you've delivered quality products and solved challenging problems, which shows your competency and skill set. When you're applying for a job, it's best to highlight your past achievements that apply to the position.

  • Include other desirable soft skills and characteristics. You can also include qualitative skills such as critical thinking, confidence, flexibility, entrepreneurial skills and problem-solving ability in your cover letter.


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