12 Essential Life Skills to Excel in Your Career

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 4 November 2022

Published 19 May 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

You may want to acquire new skills to list on your resume or to improve yourself. You can consider looking into essential life skills. Learning more about these skills can help you formulate a plan to acquire and hone them throughout your personal life and your career. In this article, we explain what life skills are and list 12 essential ones that may help to improve your work performance.

Related: 8 Benefits of Soft Skills Training and Types of Soft Skills

What are life skills?

Life skills are necessary skills that help us navigate the activities and challenges in all aspects of our life. It's important to develop several essential life skills to improve your quality of life and excel at work. With a strong set of life skills, you can be better equipped to face various situations in life and at work.

Related: What Are Key Skills? (Definition, Examples and Tips)

12 essential life skills

Here are 12 life skills that hiring managers and employers may look for:

1. Communication skills

A strong communicator is articulate and can convey ideas in a clear and concise manner. Being a clear communicator ensures that the recipient of the information understands your ideas and instructions. You also leave a good impression on clients and external parties if you communicate well and demonstrate that you know your work. Consider reading self-improvement books or watching videos on effective communication to practise some of their recommendations.

Related: What Is Nonverbal Communication (With Benefits and Types)

2. Active listening skills

Active listening means you're able to listen attentively when someone else is speaking and understand what they're expressing. When you listen actively, you allow the speaker to freely convey their thoughts and opinions without any interruptions. To improve your active listening skills, work on taking notes and rephrasing what others say to ensure that you understand the main points. You can also ask questions to clarify any points you're unsure about.

3. Time management skills

There may be multiple tasks you want to complete each day, but due to the limited amount of time, it's necessary to prioritise some tasks over others. Make an ordered list of your responsibilities in terms of the level of urgency and importance. Use a scheduler to allocate time for each work responsibility. This improves efficiency and helps you to finish tasks on your to-do list.

As part of managing your time, consider delegating certain tasks to others. Consider asking the interns or new hires to perform simpler tasks so that you can focus on the more important duties. Learning when to say no to additional work is also a valuable time management skill.

Related: How to Manage Time (With 23 Time Management Tips and Advice)

4. Resilience skills

Being resilient means that you don't give up easily and remain positive regardless of the situation you're in. Employers and hiring managers may regard staff members who are resilient as valuable as they can persevere and continue to produce results. When you are more resilient, you may be more attentive to your surroundings and can better control your emotions or reactions to situations.

To improve your resilience, read motivational quotes and encourage yourself. Write your long-term goals on a piece of paper and place them somewhere that you can see them throughout the day. Reminding yourself of your initial goals can give you the mental strength to work towards your targets even in the midst of difficulties.

5. Problem-solving skills

Employers and hiring managers may value employees who possess strong problem-solving skills. Problem-solving skills entail understanding the problem, troubleshooting for solutions and formulating a proposal to handle the issue. If you have good problem-solving skills, you may think critically about the cause of the issue and brainstorm ways to avoid a recurrence in the future.

6. Research skills

Honing research skills may help you discover new concepts and ways of doing things, especially as your job scope and work responsibilities grow. Being a resourceful person utilising all possible avenues to gather information can help you learn a new topic quickly. For example, you could do online research to find the definition for a new marketing term you come across or discover a new solution to solve the challenges you face at work.

Related: Research Skills: Definition, Examples and Importance

7. Creative skills

With creativity, you can think of several innovative solutions to solve a single issue. Employers or hiring managers may appreciate one who can help the company produce new products and services that meet the needs of customers. Furthermore, when you encounter various issues at work, being creative may help you resolve them swiftly.

8. Public speaking skills

You may need public speaking skills when you present your work to colleagues, higher management and clients. Public speaking skills entail learning how to pronounce words properly and how to pace your speech. This ensures that you speak clearly and articulate your words in a way that people understand easily. With good public speaking skills, you can conduct presentations with ease and feel comfortable when speaking in front of others.

You can practise answering questions or sharing your opinions as part of honing your public speaking skills. This includes responding to impromptu questions without prior preparation. You may feel less comfortable responding immediately to questions others direct at you.

Related: What Does a Communicator Do? (With Types and Tips)


9. Persuasion skills

Persuasion skills are especially important if your job involves working with customers regularly. For example, if you're a retail associate, when you're able to convince customers and clients to purchase products or services, it may raise the revenue and profit for your company.

If you're a marketing manager with good persuasion skills, you can convince the client and other key stakeholders to consider your proposals and implementation plans. This ensures a smooth working relationship because both parties agree on pursuing the same goals and targets of the project.

10. Self-management skills

Self-management skills mean you have the ability and discipline to manage yourself in different aspects of your life, be it professionally or personally. With good self-management skills, you're able to plan, make decisions and achieve your targets. This can help you produce good results in the workplace to gain promotions and salary increments. You are likely to be motivated to constantly improve, and excel at work.

11. Teamwork skills

It's likely that you may work on a project together with other colleagues. Being able to work harmoniously with your team members can increase work productivity and translate to achieving team goals.

Being a team player could make for a more pleasant work environment. You can learn how to adapt to the working styles and preferences of others. To improve teamwork among your colleagues, you can organise team bonding sessions with your team, such as having a meal together or doing a sport activity on a weekend.

Related: What Is Teamwork? (Plus Skills and Examples of Teamwork)

12. Leadership skills

Leadership skills may be highly beneficial in your career because you're able to organise a group of people to achieve a common goal. Being a leader is a valuable skill since you can inspire many people to complete a project. You can improve team dynamics by motivating members and being empathetic. Employers and hiring managers may hold you in high regard because you're responsible and can be accountable for your tasks and your team's results.

Related: 6 Leadership Skills for a Resume and How to Demonstrate Them

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