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Aware of your skills? Need to shine at work? Explore these top 10 must-have skills. You need to know the necessary skills that will allow you to perform exceedingly well at work. People who often overlook the skills they have developed through related, unrelated, paid or unpaid activities are missing out. Have the Top 10 Must Have Skills at Work


By Catherine Adenle

As a career-minded professional, if you need to get noticed at work, you need to explore these top 10 must-have skills. If you possess all the necessary skills, then it’s vital that you know how to demonstrate and utilize the skills.

The good news is if you are reading this, you probably already know that having the right set of skills that employers need is important for your career growth. Even if the jobs of your choice require specific technical or scientific expertise, for you to be successful at work, you will need to document, demonstrate and utilize your personal and transferable skills.  Over the years, you have already gained many of the skills that employers look for through part-time, full time, voluntary work, projects at college or university, leisure interests and via various responsibilities.

“People who often overlook the skills they have developed through apparently unrelated or unpaid activities are missing out”.

How to know that you have the top 10 must-have skills at work

To shine at work, you must be self-aware of your skills and how they relate to these top 10 must-have skills. Unfortunately, a lot of hard-working people are clueless about their own skills.  For instance, look at the conversation below and think about your own experiences in the past and how you have missed out on the opportunity to showcase your own skills.

When Patrick, a brilliant sales assistant at his former job was asked about the skills he gained in his last job by his new manager, he looked up and squinted. Then he answered,
“My last job was only a job role in a computer shop. Nothing more, nothing less,” he shrugged.
“What did you do there?” His new manager asked. Patrick looked perplexed and answered,
“I was just a sales assistant,” he replied.
“For how long?” his new manager persisted.
“I was there for just 3 years. All I did was sell computers, nothing else,” concluded Patrick.
“You must have gained a range of skills from the position. Don’t you think…” Now tell me about the skills you gained.”
Patrick looked a bit lost as he scratched his head. He just could not think beyond just selling computers.


Now, if you were Patrick, what skills would you have mentioned straightaway? Would you struggle to mention the skills you gained too and would you also find it difficult to demonstrate them if necessary?

Well, if you ask me I will tell you that I think Patrick gained all these skills and maybe more:

  • sales ability
  • persuasive skill
  • communication skill
  • numeracy skill
  • maintaining patience & tact
  • cash handling
  • leadership
  • interpersonal
  • customer service

Relating your skills to your role and opportunities

It’s not enough to know the skills you possess. You must know how to utilize them in order to shine at work. What is the point of having the skills if you cannot gain anything from using them? Once you are aware of your skills, you still have to relate them to the job that you do or any role that you apply for.

How do you know the top 10 must have skills to utilize at work or how do you highlight them when compiling your CV  or in your cover letter and application?

  • Consider how your motivation, personal qualities and aspirations reflect the ethos of the company that you work for or the organization that you are applying to work for and the opportunity they have on offer.
  • Understand the skills and competencies required for what you do at work and for any role you want. Skills required for roles are usually transparent where a job specification is made available. The best way to fully capture the skills required is to take a highlighter pen and highlight all the skills in your job description. Then, try and relate them to the skills utilized or gained from your previous role, experience, interests, hobbies etc.
  • Decide on the best way to sell your skills at work or when looking for a new job. Think of how to showcase your skills on your CV and the format you will use. What should you put in your covering letter? See our CV and covering letter tips for advice on making effective applications.

See 3 Popular CV Formats: Know the Right One for You and  See Your Cover Letter is Your Sales Rep!

What are these top 10 must have skills and are they transferable?

The top 10 must have skills are the 10 most popular skills desired by all employers. These are skills you develop in any working situation, be it a part-time job, casual work, voluntary work, vacation work or an internship. Remember that working with customers and other employees will provide evidence of communication skills, problem-solving and sometimes leadership. Through your current role, you will have evidence of the ability to adhere to working practices such as timekeeping, attendance and meeting deadlines. If your work experience has been in a commercial environment you will surely have developed commercial awareness, regardless of the capacity in which you worked.

In addition, your self -reliance and self-awareness will have been enhanced as you are more aware of the tasks you like to do and are good at.

Transferable skills can be identified in many situations, but ‘real’ work experience is probably the most fruitful area in which to utilize your skills and also find evidence.

Top 10 Must Have Skills at Work

The 10 must have skills are also transferable skills that are particularly popular at work:
1. Communication – ability to communicate orally, in writing, or via e-mail or any electronic means, in a manner appropriate to the audience is absolutely important and it’s a vital one among the top 10 must have skills. You communicate daily with your manager and peers at work. However, to shine at work, you must be able to communicate powerfully and prolifically.
2. Teamwork – being a reliable and contributing team member, who is contributing practically to the success of the team and following the team’s common goal is vital at work. Utilizing this specific one of the top 10 must have skills at work is important because you need to build relationships and collaborate with others.
3. Leadership – this is another great top 10 must have skills to have as it will determine your career altitude. Being able to motivate and encourage others, whilst taking the lead is indeed necessary for a career-minded person. You must be able to champion initiatives and think like a leader. Thinking on your feet, taking the lead and finding solutions to problems will help you to shine at work.
4. Initiative – Ability to use your own sense of reasoning or idea, see and seize opportunities, set and achieve goals will let you shine at work.
5. Problem-solving – solving problems and analyzing issues by thinking things through in a logical way in order to determine key issues, often also including creative thinking is one of the top 10 must have skills at work.
6. Flexibility/adaptability – everywhere you look, there is change. You need the ability to champion and handle change to drive for good results by adapting to new situations. Being flexible will help you to deal with different situations at work. Rigidity has no place at work unless you own your own business and you don’t mind failing.
7. Organisation/Planning – able to take instructions, set, establish goals and deal with your ability to design, plan, organize, and implement projects and tasks within an allotted time frame is important.
8. Commitment/motivation – get engaged at work, build commitment in others, promote a sense of commitment and having the energy, the follow-through and enthusiasm in pursuing projects. This is yet another vital one of the top 10 must have skills at work.
9. Interpersonal skills – ability to work in a team or in a business group environment and relate well to others as you establish good working relationships is imperative.
10. IT skills – this is a must have skill that almost all jobs now require. You must have some basic understanding of computer hardware and software, especially word processing, spreadsheets, and email.

See Analyse Your Employability Skills and Employability Skills – Skills You Need for a Job

Presenting the evidence of these top 10 must have skills

Your principal concern should be to utilize and present proof of the skills and qualities that you have as they are also skills most employers seek. This could be in the form of achievements, responsibilities during work experience or voluntary activities, involvement in societies, or management of any activities.

The key is to equal the evidence in your performance at work or in your CV or application if you are looking for a job.

When examining your past involvements more closely, perhaps consider these questions:

  • What exactly have I done in the past?
  • What was I responsible for achieving?
  • What were the outcomes of my actions?
  • How did I achieve success?
  • Is there evidence of ‘how’ I have demonstrated the relevant skills this role require?

Although it’s important to be concise on your CV, simply listing your skills is not enough. Prepare pieces of evidence because employers can’t simply take your word for it. To help you to do this, always think of using the ‘STAR’ method –

SSituation (What’s the situation?)
TTask (What did you do in order to manage the situation?)
AAction (How did you deal with the situation, what were the actions taken?)
RResult (What was the result of your actions to manage the situation)

Free Skills Assessment Tool

Templates for Skill Based CV

As there are many more other skills apart from these top 10 must have skills, let us hear from you regarding the skills that are helping you to shine at work. How do you utilize them? Leave your comment below.


Catherine Adenle
Founder, Catherine's Career Corner. The career site empowering and inspiring ambitious candidates of all ages and professions to thrive and work smarter on their careers. Gladly helping all career-minded people worldwide to explore their career, manage change and understand how new technologies are changing and enhancing the future of work.
Catherine Adenle
Catherine Adenle

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3 thoughts on “Shine at Work: Top 10 Must Have Skills

  1. Thanks, Catherine for the post! Yes, you must have all these skills, but I’ll add one more skill. And this ability is to write creatively and correctly. Your resume won’t be reviewed by any employer if it will be written bad.

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