10 Easy Skills to Pick Up Before Applying to a Job
So you’re writing your new resume, and suddenly you get to the “skills” section. You pause. Wait! What skills do I actually have?
If you can answer that question with a slew of marketable skills, congratulations! If you have to take a bit of time to answer it, you’re not alone. Developing a slew of marketable skills takes time, and in addition, the skills you choose to highlight may be different based on the jobs you’re applying for.
Here are a few easily learnable skills that you can use to bulk up your resume (and a few skills mixed in there that won’t necessarily help your resume, but are good to have in general for your job and for life). Start practicing!
Effective communication in front of others isn’t just useful for an interview – you’ll also use it every day you’re on the job. You can find tutorials online, everywhere from the Stanford Graduate School of Business to public speaking experts on how to communicate your ideas to an audience – not to mention the guidance and inspiration that TED talks can provide.
So, this is one of the more time intensive skills to “pick up” on this list. But if you’re new to coding, don’t write it off – learning how to write (or even just recognize!) few basic, useful commands in HTML is a whole different ballpark than trying to teach yourself C++. Websites like Codeacademy offer to teach the basics of HTML in just a few hours of lessons. It’s well worth two afternoons of your time.
Negotiation is a delicate art that requires a confluence of other soft skills, such as communication, listening, and innovation. You’ll use negotiation during the job application process, when you angle for a better salary or stock options offer. Negotiation will also come in handy when you’re pushing for a raise. Make sure to practice these five soft skills in order to perfect your negotiation prowess.
The natural corollary to public speaking skills? PowerPoint. (Or Google Slides, or Prezi, or whatever else you choose to make your presentations). Knowing how to create and present good PowerPoints is a must-have skill for more jobs than you would think. There is a multitude of tutorials and examples online that you can use as a jumping off point. And again, TED talks often have some of the best examples.
Confidence isn’t just something that some people were born with, and others weren’t. It is a skill that can be practiced, refined, and embodied into your daily lifestyle. Amy Gallo writes in the Harvard Business Review to remember to “be honest with yourself about what you know and what you need to learn,” as well as “practice doing the things you are unsure about” and “embrace new opportunities to prove you can do difficult things,” all as simple methods to boost confidence.
Excel is a powerful tool, and you could spend years learning all of the ins and outs of what you can do with it. Luckily, you usually don’t need to know all the nitty-gritty details of Excel to be able to use it effectively. There are variety of free and paid options to make you into a confident Excel user within just a few hours, or a few days, depending on how much time you can put into it.
The ability to manage your time and prioritize your tasks is one of the most widely cited skills of highly productive people. There are so easy methods you can learn to help from this, from waking up a bit earlier to starting the day with your most difficult tasks. If that’s even too much for you, check out the scores of time management apps on the market that can help you use your time more effectively.
While stress reduction is not exactly something you can put at the top of the “skills” section of your resume, it’s arguably one of the most important skills you can have on the job— regardless of where you work and what your title is. One method that people are increasingly turning towards to reduce stress in the workplace is meditation. “The busier we are, the more we need that centering time—that time to actually be able to connect to our inner wisdom,” says Arianna Huffington, founder of the Huffington Post and advocate of daily meditation. Apps like Headspace or Insight Timer, or locally offered meditation and stress-reduction classes, can all help you find that “centering time” in your next job.
Believe it or not, a handshake can speak volumes about a person. Your clammy, dead fish grip might be giving recruiters the wrong impression. Practice turning your limp handshake into a powerful grip, with locked eyes and a smile. Ask your friends, ask your family, ask people on the street to give you feedback on your handshake – this couldn’t be an easier skill to practice.
It’s not just at start-ups where ideas are shot rapid-fire around a table and onto a whiteboard (although if you’re applying to a start-up, it’s also a great skill to have). In pretty much any job you ever have, you’re going to have to think collaboratively with other people. Practice with friends or with family to brainstorm any random topic, and see what you learn from it.