Career Advice, Insights

3 Skills You Should Develop That Are Guaranteed to Improve Your Career Prospects

Many employees in the workforce today aren’t adequately equipped to achieve their full career potential. Too often, they’ve been taught, “Go to school, get good grades and get a job.” As far as they are concerned, they are fine once that’s done.

Unfortunately, it’s not that simple. From negotiating your salary to effectively managing your time, career success requires more than just showing up. These extra skills will almost certainly help you have a more successful career.

1. Train Yourself to Innovate

Very few employees will describe “being innovative” as part of their job requirement, yet research shows that this essential skill often differentiates between those at the top and those at the bottom of the career ladder. According to research by PWC, 43 percent of executives believe that the ability to innovate is a competitive skill required for the success of their company.

A great case study on how much of a difference being innovative can make is that of Matthew Epstein, who was looking for a marketing job three years after graduating college. He wanted to work at Google in particular, and decided to use an innovative approach: he set up the website googlepleasehire.me and created a fun YouTube video resume trying to get Google to notice him. The results were astounding: He had over 700,000 visits to his website in three weeks and got over 80 job interviews — including with Microsoft and Amazon. While Google didn’t hire him, his efforts got him a lucrative job offer and he created a viral marketing campaign that made his resume look more attractive.

When you work on your ability to innovate, to constantly look for unique ways to help your company be more efficient and be more profitable, your efforts will be recognized and you will be rewarded in return.

2. Develop Your Negotiation Skills

Research shows that only 39 percent of employees tried to negotiate their salary with their last job offer, and that a whopping 49 percent of employees never negotiate an initial employment offer — resulting in a loss of $634,000 over their career compared to those who are able to negotiate.

According to Dr. Nina Bal, an award-winning facial aesthetics doctor and CEO of London-based Facial Sculpting clinics, “There’s so much to negotiate in the course of your career: your job offer, your salary, a raise or even your position. Yet, unfortunately, many employees fail to negotiate these things due to a lack of negotiation skills.” Dr. Bal recommends that employees get training to hone their negotiation skills, and that they think beyond just salary negotiation.

Here are some of the other things you can negotiate in your job:

  • Your salary
  • Your position
  • Your title
  • Your severance package
  • Your office
  • Your work schedule/arrangement

3. Work on Your Time Management and Deadline Skills

Loss of workplace productivity costs the American economy hundreds of billions of dollars annually, and lack of proper time management skills is probably the biggest culprit. In fact, due to lack of proper time management skills, researchers have found that some employees lose up to 6.2 hours at work in a day — every day.

“When you don’t have proper time management skills, you’re likely to keep missing deadlines, and that won’t bode well for your job or career prospects,” says Margot Bushnaq, the CEO and founder of BrandBucket, a marketplace for startup business names. “In fact, consistently missing deadlines is one of the reasons employers fire employees,” she concluded.

Bushnaq believes that proper time management skills would play a large role in the success of the startup when they decide to finally start their own business.

It’s good to be good at your job, but the above skills — while basic — will often go a much longer way toward impacting your career prospects than simply fulfilling your basic job requirements.

Jessica Stevens is a thought leader in the area of Human Resources with a special focus on compensation structure and human capital as an asset. She has helped multiple startups through rapid growth expansion while operating without a tightly knit legal and social framework.