There are so many important career skills so limiting this to 5 has been pretty tricky. And you can send me as many emails as you like to tell me all the ones I have missed. I know, I have missed loads, and these may not be the most important career skills, or not the most important to you, in your situation right now. But they are definitely important, and apply to both people in the workplace and business owners (with the possible exception of one.)

1. Sales Skills

And I don’t just mean products and services. I mean your ability to sell yourself, your ideas, the decisions you take and the things you do and have done. If you give an opinion, or have an idea about how to do something or get something done, you need to be able to sell that. You might not have to, but you need to be able to. By this I mean you need to be able to clearly communicate the reasoning behind your thoughts and actions, and persuade your interlocutor to agree. Persuading is selling.

2. Relationship Skills

You may think that charisma and relationship skills come naturally and you either have them or you don’t. That’s BS. Like any other skill they can be learned. People often think that introverts aren’t great at relationships in the workplace, but that just isn’t true. Part of relationship skills involves building trust, having empathy and finding common ground with others. Skills required by great leaders but which come naturally to introverts or highly sensitive people. You don’t need to be an extrovert to have great relationship skills in the workplace – you already have what it takes.

3. Communication Skills

I know. Could I BE any more predictable? But communication goes hand in hand with everything else. I couldn’t not put it on the list. Being able to articulate, clearly, an idea both verbally and in written form is crucial in your career. Equally important is the ability to listen to others, really REALLY listen. Listen to what they say but also what they don’t say. And the surprising thing is that for such an important group of skills, so many people are really bad at communicating. How many workplace issues have you had which could have been improved or just not even happened at all with better communication. So yes, it is a predictable inclusion on the list, but one which is so often neglected when it comes down to actually doing. Trust me when I say that communication skills can be learned, and improved upon, by anyone.

4. Upwards Management

This is the one that might not be applicable if you are a small business owner, but applies to 99.9% of people in other careers. By upwards management I mean managing your relationship with your boss. Now, managers need great people management skills. Well, they do if they are to be good managers. But some of responsibility for the manager – employee relationship has to come from the employee. Relationships go two ways. So by upwards management I mean being proactive about managing your relationship with your boss, managing their expectations around your work and how they perceive your performance. It also involves how you communicate with your manager, how you share the information they need with them. Put bluntly upwards management skills are crucial if you want to move up through the ranks of your company.


If you are anything like me, you will have cringed when reading that. A proper shudder. But it is an annoying fact of life that hard work on its own isn’t enough. Very often people wonder why they aren’t getting the recognition for their awesomeness. And I ask well, are you telling people how awesome you are? When I say recognition I mean recognition from your clients, your management, your employees. Everyone needs to be able to self-promote. Are you now imagining a cacaphony of boastiness? Doesn’t have to be like that. Self-promotion really can be subtle; in fact, I would go as far as to say subtlety is often the best way forward. And it is a skill, which can be learned and improved upon.

What would you have put in a post about 5 important career skills? Which of these do you find the most difficult? What are you going to do about it?


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