Skill # 1: Writing
Why you should know how: In this global economy, an enormous amount of business is conducted in writing. No matter how well spoken you are, you are expected to communicate your ideas clearly and professionally through writing. Poor writing skills reflect negatively on your intelligence and professionalism, but good writing skills provide you with an edge, no matter your industry.
Core competencies: Spelling, grammar, clarity, brevity, editing, and persuasion. One of the most overlooked writing skills is how to plan, outline and write your argument.
How to learn: You can take a business writing course. If you learn better outside the classroom, you can learn from how-to guides on business writing from bookstores or libraries. There are also countless websites that outline successful business writing and teach specific skills.
Skill # 2: Web Design
Why you should know how: Every company worth their salt has a web presence these days and being someone on the team who can make minor changes or updates can make the difference between getting an interview and getting left out in the cold.
Core competencies: HTML, CSS and SEO. HTML is the main mark-up language of webpages. CSS is a style sheet language used to describe the look and formatting of documents written in HTML or similar mark-up languages. SEO refers to Search Engine Optimization, and it’s more than a buzzword. It’s a tool for making your webpage more relevant to search engines, with the goal of connecting products and services with customers.
How to learn: If your knowledge of these skills is patchy or it sounds overwhelming or intimidating, you’re not alone. But these skills are worth learning, either through a course or instructional manual. You can learn at your own pace. It’s repetition, not genius coding skills, that will help you master web design skills. Just like any language, it’s use it or lose it.
Skill # 3: Self-Management
Why you should know how: It sounds like a soft-skill, but actually practicing it separates the wheat from the chaff. Having and being able to demonstrate self-management means you can effectively plan, execute and take initiative in working towards your goal, meaning you will be successful no matter where you end up working.
Core competencies: Organization is very important. It’s comprised of time management, prioritization, and planning. Productivity shows that you can now only work efficiently, something extremely valuable to employers, but that you have self-discipline. Taking initiative is a form of self-leadership. If you are ever to lead others effectively, you must first know how to direct yourself to action.
How to learn: These skills must be made into habits and practiced regularly. There are millions of tips, but no shortcuts to mastery. Here are three more articles to expand on tips about work ethic, productivity and motivation.
Skill #4: WordPress
Why you should know how: WordPress is a free open-source platform can be used to build everything from a personal blog to a professional e-commerce site. WordPress powers 14% of the internet, and not just blogs. WordPress has a comprehensive content management system (CMS)
Core Competencies: Setting up, formatting and administering a blog or static website. SEO, site mapping, entry categories and attracting new visitors.Measuring metrics with WordPress and Google Analytics.
How to learn: WordPress has a dummy-proof 5-Minute install that makes setting up a website easy; you can be up and running in 2-4 hours. Thanks to thousands of plugins, you can tweak your site to do exactly what you want. There are numerous instructional books on WordPress, but the site itself has massive, exhaustive Help forum that covers every aspect of WordPress, from personal blogs for beginners, to troubleshooting network admin issues for running dozens of business sites from one account. If your question isn’t already answered, ask and you shall receive.
Skill #5: Basic Accounting
Why you should know how: Knowledge of basic accounting isn’t just another line on your resume, it’s an indispensable life skill. Too few people make knowledge of basic accounting a priority and even more are intimidated by the most commonly used accounting software. Distinguish yourself from other candidates by being ready to prove you’re more comfortable with this software than your employers.
Core competencies: Accounts payable and receivable, billing, inventory, ordering systems, expense reports, payroll, and electronic payment processing.
How to learn: Some of the bestselling programs are Intuit Quickbooks, Simply Accounting, and Peachtreent. If you don’t have access to these programs to teach yourself, the easiest way to learn is to enroll in a class or have a more experienced friend give you a few lessons. As with most of these skills, the only way to get comfortable is to practice, so make getting access to accounting software a priority for you.
Skill #6: Social media
Why you should know how: It sounds like todays get rich quick scheme, given the prevalence of “social media gurus” glutting the market today. You don’t need to be a guru to know that social media engages targeted audiences in a two-way conversation, which builds public awareness of the company’s brand. In the bad old days, to reach new markets businesses had to expend a lot of their budget with costly print, radio and TV advertising, or pick up the phone to cold call. Social media is free or cheap, widely used, effective, targeted, interactive and easy to learn.
Core competencies: Anyone can use a social media account, but not everyone can use one well. You should have a thorough understanding of Facebook, certainly, but also Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Tumblr, Flickr, as well as different blogging software and programs for managing multiple networks, like Hootsuite and Tweetdeck.
If you want to claim social media savvy, you need to be able to explain how you would launch and plan a campaign to generate more interest or revenue.
How to learn: The good news is that it’s free and relatively easy to teach yourself how to use social media effectively. Sign up for the most popular social media sites and play around. Get comfortable. Once you’ve learned the basics, you can research more advanced uses. You can pre-program targeted tweets, create a splash page on Facebook, network with thousands of potential clients on LinkedIn and create dynamic photo albums or develop exciting blog content to keep fans of your company’s brand in the loop.
Skill #7: How to sell
Why you should know how: If direct selling isn’t your favorite thing, it’s easy to tell yourself that it’s too hard, or it’s not in your personality. The hard truth is, though, that selling makes the world go ‘round. Whether you’re selling a product, a business idea, a creative solution or even yourself, you have to know how to sell. When you decide not to try because it makes you uncomfortable, you’re the only one who loses out.
Core competencies: You have to know your “product”, whatever it is, but even more importantly, you have to know your audience. You have to know their needs and you also have to listen carefully to their desires. You have to learn how to ask the right questions, ones that instill your target with confidence in you and excitement about your product or solution.
How to learn: One great way to learn how to sell is to apply for lots of jobs, and attend interviews to win, even if you don’t plan to take the job. Network continuously. Set up a website using your web design, blogging or WordPress skills that lays out a portfolio of your professional achievements. Call recruiters directly to inquire about advertised positions that excite you. Develop an elevator pitch and a professional brand for yourself. Good selling is about the above core competencies, but to feel great while selling you need confidence, and that comes from practice, trial and error.
Every one of these skills has the real, measurable potential to change your professional life for the better. Employers aren’t looking for vagaries; they want concrete examples of what you know and how it can help them improve their business. Develop some or all the these skills and have the advantage over the competition.