Many of us are looking for ways to enhance our careers. Whether it’s trying to get a new job with a new company, or whether you are angling for a raise or a promotion at your current job, it makes sense to develop the career skills that are most in demand.

While this sometimes means that you have to gain the hard skills that are required in your specific field, you might be even better served by developing the soft skills that can be valuable in almost any career. As you prepare for the next phase of your career, here are the most valuable skills to develop:

Top Three Characteristics: Professionalism, High Energy, and Confidence

In a recent story published on Forbes, executive search firm Harris Allied pointed out that the top three traits employers look for are professionalism, high energy, and confidence.

careers_skillsThat’s right: Some of the most valuable career skills aren’t those associated with what you can do, or how competent you are at your job. If you can develop a level of professionalism that your co-workers and superiors can appreciate, you could go much further with your career. Harris says 86 percent of employers cite professionalism as the most important trait for new hires. A high amount of energy is most important to 78 percent of employers, and confidence came in with 61 percent.

As you can see, developing these characteristics, and learning to portray them effectively is a key way improve your career. When interacting with others and networking with others with a high level of professionalism and confidence, you project competence — even if you haven’t proved it yet. The way you present yourself can go a long way toward advancing your career.

Empathy Important for Future Jobs

Another soft skill you can develop is empathy. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics put together a report on the fastest growing careers through 2020. If you want to do well going forward, it might be a good idea to develop the skills that are compatible with jobs in health care fields and personal care and service. One of the biggest skills that you need to have when working in these fields is empathy.

Your ability to sympathize and even empathize with others can help you advance in careers that require you to care for others. The development of empathy can also help in other career fields, since everyone likes to feel as though they are listened to and that they matter. Your ability to understand your co-workers and bosses can help you advance, and provide you with the ability to stay on top of things when you most need to.

Communication Skills

We live in a world that increasingly relies on communication. From writing skills to oral skills, communication is important. If you are able to effectively communicate ideas, you have a good chance of advancing in any career field. Learn how to write well, and how speak well, and you can prove yourself an asset to your employer. The need for communication today is great, since so much happens online. Even video presentation is important. Developing these career skills is an important part of working in today’s world.

Problem Solving

Finally, you need to be able to solve problems. Problem solving is a soft skill that is in high demand. The ability to look at a situation and find different ways to approach the issue is one that comes in handy in a number of careers. Whether you are trying to solve a problem with a difficult customer or whether you are trying to overcome a sticky problem in a group project, your ability to take the lead and help solve problems can make you a great asset. It shows leadership and an ability to communicate.

While you do want to develop the hard skills and certifications that can prove your ability and competence, you also want to make sure that you have other qualities and skills that enhance your marketability. Just about anyone can earn a specific certification. If you want to set yourself apart, you need valuable career skills that aren’t as easy to quantify, but give you an indefinable quality that others respond to.



Miranda is freelance journalist. She specializes in topics related to money, especially personal finance, small business, and investing. You can read more of my writing at Planting Money Seeds.