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A few weeks ago I was reading some articles and data on how the economy is moving forward. One of the key points was how the next stage of recovery would effect  the types of jobs opening up soon. Although the jobless rate is down, the quality of the jobs generated has decreased. There are far too many underemployed, or part-timers on the one hand, and employers crying for highly skilled workers that they can not find. After doing some research, I’ve generated a list of the 10 Essential Skills to get ahead.

1. Ability to process, sort, and organize information from multiple sources efficiently and effectively. 

 If you’re like the average worker, your ability to move through and comprehend information has not been updated since elementary school. With the continuous doubling of information every twelve months, you’ll never be able to accomplish this in a way that can effectively compete.  Learn to read better and faster.

2. Effective Problem Solving Skills 

 – The most common approach to problem solving is throwing the first idea that pops into your mind to solve it. Do you use a defined methodology to solve difficult or complex problems? Difficult and complex problems requires the careful and organized examination of the available information and data. The ability to apply the first skill is a critical piece to effective solving problems. If you’re bogged down in an avalanche of information related to a serious and/or complex problem, effectively solving the issue will take too long.

3. Time and Priority Management 

 – Time is an equalizing resource. Why do some people get consistent results, while those less competitive struggle? The peak performers know what to focus their energies on and get real results, not just do busy work. This is a set of sub-skills that can be easily learned and move your job and career forward when you know how to apply.

4. Learning How to Learn 

 – The world is constantly changing. Businesses that win in today’s economy are disruptive – that is, they take a new approach to developing and delivering goods and services. Not only do these winning companies disrupt the industries they are in, but the workers lives are also disrupted as they need to constantly learn new things. Without knowing “How to Learn” you’ll always be playing catch-up. Developing this set of skills is a survival tool for you, always

5. Ability to Analyze Quantitative Data  

 – “I’m no good in Math.” That is true if you think that. Too often people who think this about themselves either have never experience effective teaching of math, or lack the discipline and focus necessary to get good at math. This skill relates to the previous one. This is the new era of “Big Data.” If you are intimidated, or fail to understand the implications of data analysis, your career will stall. Your responsibilities, and thus earning potential will not rise above entry level, or maintenance type of work.

6. Effective Decision Making Skills  

– The easy test on this one is to take a look at your life. Is it the way you want it to be? In fact, your life is the accumulation of the decisions you have made. Again, this a learnable skill that has huge implications in life and career. Effective decision making skills in combination with the other nine will take you to the top of your field.

7. Effective Research, Writing, and Presentation Skills  

– How quickly do you find, process, synthesize, and communicate relevant information and insights from that information in order to get things done? Using an outdated set of personal information management approaches will clog up the “communication pipeline.” Having the information is only the beginning. Being able to persuade and act on it effectively requires much higher levels of thinking. This last sentence is at the heart of peak performance.

8.  Critical Thinking 

 – is the ability to think independently utilizing reason based on facts and evidence, while considering multiple perspectives (opinions). The term is much heralded today, but poorly understood. Employers have cried about not seeing this in recruits for the last decade. This skill is essential if you want to improve your problem solving and decision making capabilities as well. Many employment surveys have ranked this as the “most important and needed” skill in today’s marketplace.

9. Flexibility

Flexibility involves:

  • Adapting successfully to changing situations & environments
  • Keeping calm in the face of difficulties
  • Planning ahead, but having alternative options in case things go wrong
  • Thinking quickly to respond to sudden changes in circumstances
  • Persisting in the face of unexpected difficulties
  • Anticipating & responding positively to changing environments
  • Ability to adapt to change positively in response to changing circumstances
  • Taking on new challenges at short notice.
  • Dealing with changing priorities/workloads

When you commit to developing the skills listed here, flexibility is a resulting by-product.

10. Effective Teamwork  

– Are you adding value to the group, or are you holding it back? Living in a globally interconnected world and economy requires us to be good collaborators and creative thinkers.

As you develop the above skills, your ability to contribute to your group, organization, and the world will flourish. If you find yourself bemoaning about your job or career, it’s time to take a self-inventory.

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