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Take command of these professional skills to make yourself invaluable in any industry.

Businesses and projects vary. But what it means to be a good coworker and colleague is universal.

Be a quality employee wherever you work.

It used to be that working adults got a job and stuck with it for years. Now it’s common for employees of all types to shift from job to job and even industry to industry throughout their career. The job market has changed — workers are looking to use their transferable skills in jobs that fit their lifestyle. According to Prudential Financial’s Pulse of the American Worker survey, 20 percent of workers surveyed said they plan to look for new opportunities as the COVID-19 pandemic wanes. Others had already switched jobs during the pandemic.

Whatever your reason is for seeking a new job, excelling at a wide range of skills will help you succeed regardless of industry. Not only will it make you more marketable and increase your value as an employee, but you’ll also be better prepared to pivot or switch careers when you’re ready to seek new opportunities.

Hard skills help you succeed in any job.

Hard skills are measurable abilities that you gain from education and training, like proficiency with a particular software or the ability to do basic IT troubleshooting.


Because many hard skills are technical, some job-seekers think that only people who have studied certain subjects in college or who have gone through training programs can develop them. However, STEM degrees and technical training are not the only ways to develop hard skills. Professionals can learn new skills on their own time with any number of excellent online resources. Here are a few hard skills to start or continue developing:

A businessperson sits at a desk working on a desktop computer

Digital literacy

Digital literacy covers knowledge regarding computers and related technology. Knowing how to use a computer, tablet, or mobile device is essential for almost any job. Knowing how to type, use web browsers, and store and transfer data are all components of digital literacy.


Many workers today develop digital literacy skills early in life. However, technology is always changing, and it can be easy to take digital literacy for granted. A worker who came of age in the era of floppy disks, for instance, might have a few bumps when acclimating to a cloud-based work environment. Staying on top of new tech trends will help anyone keep current with the language of technology.

Communication technology

Communication and collaboration are necessary in every job. Knowing how to use email, instant messaging, video chats, and notes in cloud documents will serve you well almost everywhere. With more and more people working remotely, it’s important to know how to use communication technology and be comfortable with it.

Two photos: A businessperson works at a desk with a cup of coffee and headphones; A businessperson engages in a video conference on their laptop

Common software and applications

Being able to work with different operating systems (Mac and PC) and software enables people to jump around from job to job without a steep learning curve.


And, with well-developed software skills, you can explore working in various industries, from advertising to IT to accounting, depending on your role and level of expertise. Any widely applicable software skillset is an enormous benefit for your resume because it opens opportunities for growth and development, not to mention additional compensation. Acclimating yourself to new software may take time, but you can flatten that learning curve by familiarizing yourself with the basics like: 

Word processing:

Written documents are the most basic ways for you to express your ideas. Microsoft Word is the standard word-processing software, but other companies may use Google Docs or another application entirely. It is a good idea to learn how to work with more than one.


A good presentation holds your viewers’ attention and shows off what you have to say visually. You don’t need to make it fancy — but knowing how to present your work effectively through PowerPoint or Keynote will allow others to see what you have to say better than sharing a text document on screen.


Spreadsheets turn cluttered data into clear information. Basic knowledge of spreadsheet software such as Excel or Google Sheets will give you a leg up in the workplace, even if you don’t use them to crunch numbers.

Media editing:

Audio, video, and image files add depth and insight to presentations and publications. A basic familiarity with common image editing software like Photoshop and files like JPG images and PNGs will help you stay organized when juggling different assets.


Communication software helps you express yourself to your colleagues, no matter where you are. You should be able to effectively communicate your ideas, thoughts, and opinions verbally or in writing with tools such as Slack, Skype, and Zoom when collaborating with others on a project or piece of work.

Document management:

Document management allows you to store and share information with other employees who may be working on a project, or with end users who use your product. Software like Adobe Acrobat can keep you and your team connected through almost any device, and team members can all editpassword protect, and sign files when needed.

Basic IT troubleshooting

At some point, you’re likely to run into some computer trouble. Knowing how to fix common issues and use basic IT tools will save you a good deal of frustration and demonstrate that you can troubleshoot without missing a beat. Being able to deal with a device crashing will prevent you from calling a technician every time a minor error occurs. One tip: If something goes wrong, try restarting your device. That alone solves a whole lot of IT problems.

A businessperson sits at a desk working on a desktop computer

Soft skills to help drive success in any role.

Soft skills are the abilities that help you interact effectively with other people. Communication, teamwork, adaptability, and interpersonal skills help you collaborate and connect with people, no matter what industry you’re in or what problems you’re trying to solve.


According to Brie Weiler Reynolds, a career development manager and career coach at FlexJobs, “Communication is really the foundation of good remote work.” Virtual communication can be harder than in-person connections, but it’s a necessary skill.


For many employers, good communication skills are a big priority. When not in person with coworkers, how do you convey your communication style? How do you come across on emails, phone calls, or virtual meetings? If you can demonstrate communication skills virtually and in person, it’ll be looked on kindly by potential employers.


Knowing how to avoid unnecessary conflict, resolve disputes when they happen, and move forward amicably is a valuable skill.


Teams can include various personalities, work styles, backgrounds, and opinions. If you can’t work well with people who are different from you, that can stop a project in its tracks. However, if you’re able to see the value in others, understand what everyone brings to the project, and know how everyone’s roles relate, you can avoid frustration and contribute to everyone’s success.       

Time management

Time management skills help you make the most of your working hours, meet deadlines, and stay on track. They can also help you cultivate a healthy work-life balance.


Projects change, often at the worst possible time. When a shake-up inevitably comes your way, you need to be ready for it. Being able to figure out a new situation can help mitigate stress, too. If you’re confident in your ability to handle change, you’ll feel better about yourself, your work, and your contribution to the team.


There are always opportunities to improve, regardless of your knowledge or experience. No one can do everything, but nearly everyone has the potential to leverage their skills, find a job that fits them, and do the kind of work they find interesting and fulfilling. When you know what your strengths and interests are, and when you cultivate them and stay curious about how to grow, you can flourish both professionally and everywhere else.

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