“At least 3 years’ prior experience in a similar role” “Proficiency of Microsoft Suite”

“Ability to create and maintain project documentation”


Some of the skills and experience you need to land your dream job are listed right in the job posting. But there are others that won’t be mentioned, that are just as essential to landing the position.

The National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) has identified seven “soft” skills that are critical to your success, no matter your chosen career field. Cultivate these skills to get ahead in the job market and thrive over the course of your career.


1. Critical thinking and problem-solving.

In any job, issues arise that weren’t covered in training. Being able to analyze a situation and come up with a smart solution is an invaluable job skill. Some people are naturally good at improvising solutions, but it’s also a talent you can cultivate.

Here’s how: Improve your critical thinking skills


2. Oral and written communication.

In any industry, it’s important to be able to communicate well. People with good communication skills are able to make connections with people, work well with others, and display empathy toward colleagues when sensitive or difficult situations arise. When you speak, make eye contact and really listen to what people are saying. In written communications, it’s crucial to express your ideas both clearly and diplomatically.

Here’s how: Strengthen your business writing skills


3. Teamwork/collaboration.

Do you play well with others? To succeed in the professional world, you need to be able to collaborate with colleagues of all different skill sets, viewpoints, ages, and cultures.

Here’s how: 4 tips to become a better team player


4. Information technology skills.

To stay competitive, being technologically savvy is a must. It’s important to know how to use common programs and presentation software, and have a basic understanding of different operating systems and Internet browsers. You don’t have to become a certified IT whiz, but it’s a good idea to know how to troubleshoot and solve simple IT problems when they arise.

YouTube® is a great resource for technology and software how-to videos, ranging from simple to advanced instruction.

Here’s how: Search for IT tutorials on YouTube


5. Leadership.

Great leaders use their interpersonal skills to coach and support their team members. They see their strengths, and leverage them to achieve team goals. Leaders know how to be empathetic, diplomatic, and how to delegate tasks.

Here’s how: 4 ways a follower can become a leader


6. Professionalism/work ethic.

Can people count on you? Are you punctual? Do you to stay on task at work? Being dependable and professional matter immensely, both to your employer and your coworkers. Showing that you’re accountable, responsible, and considerate goes a long way on the path to career success. Here’s how: 21 time management tips for better productivity


7. Career management.

Searching for the right job is a job in itself. To get your career on track, you need to be able to effectively explore job options, identify opportunities, and pursue advancement. In interviews, you must be a strong advocate for your skills and strengths. To be successful in the long run, you’ll need to periodically assess your skill set and career trajectory, and identify areas you need to work on.

Here’s how: Get help managing your career



Develop and refine these seven key skills. They may help improve your chances of getting hired and lay the foundation for your professional success in the long run.


The Capella University Career Center‘s counselors, resources, and tools help students and graduates manage their careers at every stage.