Vital job skills you didn’t learn in school

Skills you learned out of school are important. (JobsCentral)
Skills you learned out of school are important. (JobsCentral)

By Kevin Lim

While our school education may have taught us how to handle the academic, knowledge-based areas of our chosen professions, we have to remember that this same education has also been, and will continue to be, passed on to tens of thousands of students just like ourselves.

What truly differentiates us in the workplace and adds value to you as an employee are your other skills — the skills you didn't learn in school. In this article, we'll explore three vital job skills you can focus on to make yourself practically indispensable to any organisation.

Standing out

Do the job you're paid to do, and you'll get paid what you were promised — your salary. Do more than your job requires, and you'll be rewarded with more. This could mean well-deserved recognition, a higher remuneration or promotions up the corporate ladder.

There are varied ways to perform "more", including submitting effective money-making (or money-saving) proposals to your company, taking on special projects and more.

By far the easiest and potentially most rewarding of these is to improve the office environment by positively influencing the people around you. Forget what you may have heard about having to outperform your colleagues, step on toes, and climb over others to get ahead. Amateurs get ahead by pushing others down. The world's most successful leaders know that the more you give, the more you receive.

A valuable member of the team

It's widely recognised that in a team, the team leader gets the lion's share of the glory of success.

For this reason, too many individuals in supporting roles compete to become a team's de facto leader, believing that enforcing their will and ideologies on the team members enhances their position in the group, leading to greater recognition by bosses.

In actual fact, such power struggles not only undermine the team's effectiveness, but also impact negatively on their own reputations as team players.

Remember, everyone, at every level of the organisation, is part of a larger team. Good managers lead teams of executives in a small area of operations, and are team players themselves in the larger scope of an organisation's business.

What happens when a person can only be a team leader and not a team member? That person is only useful half of the time. Individuals who aren't good team members to begin with seldom have the capabilities to become effective leaders. It all begins with knowing how best to perform your role in your team, and enhancing your team's overall results through your contributions.

Building Up the People Around You

Be a happy member of a team. (JobsCentral photo)
Be a happy member of a team. (JobsCentral photo)

When you enter an organisation, you will bring your own unique set of skills, tools and knowledge to the company. No matter how new you may be, and how much you have to learn, you will have abilities that will be helpful to your colleagues — whether it be in professional or personal situations.

Suppose you have an uncanny ability for research, and you're able to locate vital project-related information faster than anyone else. Or, you have an in-depth knowledge of specialised software that dramatically reduces the amount of time you spend on a task as compared to your colleagues.

Such skills will be highly sought after, and your new found colleagues will likely ask you to share your knowledge and skills with them. The simple-minded worker will see this as a tactical advantage, and try to horde these unique skills to himself, refusing to share these "secrets" for fear of losing his "lead".

The intelligent employer however, takes this opportunity to share knowledge and help teammates grow. As the team becomes more efficient, everyone benefits. The company now has a better, faster, more intelligent team, and the intelligent employee's colleagues are thankful for the sharing of vital knowledge, and are happy to reciprocate.

The team's performance has improved, and morale has gone up. Contrary to selfish beliefs, the intelligent employee is now one step closer to being recognised as an invaluable member of the organisation.

Infectious Energy

If you've visited, or been a part of several different offices before, you'll likely have noticed how an office environment can drastically affect employees' morale, attitudes toward work, and ultimately, their performance.

Regardless of whether you're an introvert, or the "life of the party", you have the capability to infect your surroundings with positive, life-giving energy.

Take the effort to share a friendly smile with a colleague, share sinful (but still always popular) snacks for mini 2-minute work breaks, and generally spread positivity to the people around you. Everyone loves to feel good, especially at work, when a "perk up" is often needed most. Spread mood lifting, life-giving energy to colleagues and employers will never want to lose you (as long as you're doing your job well of course).

Invaluable and Indispensable

There are of course, many other ways to create an "invaluable, indispensable you", and further your career. For a start, strive to master any of these three tips and apply it in a current or future job, then see the results for yourself. Throw whatever you may have learned about the "selfish worker" away, and learn to be the "intelligent employee" every employer values and treasures.

Most importantly, recognise that your journey to an outstanding career only just started in school. To be rewarded differently, you have to differentiate yourself with more than school certificates. Keep up the lifelong learning, and watch your career soar.

The JobsCentral Group, a CareerBuilder company, is the owner of, one of Singapore's largest job and learning portals. Get a free career personality test and more career- and education-related articles at JobsCentral and JobsCentral Community.

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