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Skills to pay the bills

By Fi Darby | 24 April 2017

We read a lot about the skills that employers seek but far too few of us take time out to analyse our own employable skills and qualities. The term ‘self-analysis’ can be a daunting one but neglecting to understand what makes you employable is a mistake. Once you start considering your abilities, you may be surprised at what you find out about yourself. All too often we work and play hard but fail to notice that we are gaining new skills as we do so. Without a clear understanding of our employable skills and qualities we can’t ensure that we are job ready nor can we decide how to build on existing attributes.

young woman cheering in office

In this post, we look at four areas that could just be the skills to pay the bills.

1. Personal Qualities

Personal qualities are those tendencies and attributes that make you the person you are. The jury is still out on the relative importance of nature vs nurture when it comes to developing personal characteristics but evidence suggests that personal qualities can and do change as we mature and try new experiences.

The list of personal qualities is vast but here are three examples that are valued by employers:


Self-confidence has an enormous impact on our ability to deal with other people. There aren’t many jobs that involve working in isolation and in any role there will come a time when you want to assert yourself or make a point.


Not to be confused with stubbornness, determination will get you through the tricky times. If you can demonstrate determination and a willingness to get a job done no matter what, you will be seen as a valuable employee.


Humour can be subjective, not everybody will like your jokes but the ability to see the funny side in difficult situations can be a real morale booster to the rest of your team.

Employers place great importance on these personal qualities because they usually hire people to perform more than one function; it is those with excellent personal skills who will cope across a wide range of tasks.

2. Skills Developed Through Work

When we are busy at work we sometimes don’t notice that we are gaining skills as we go along. Get into the habit of reflecting as you finish a task and recording the skills you have developed. Think about task specific skills, people skills such as communication and problem solving skills such as analysis and reasoning. By understanding your work skillset you will give yourself the confidence to tackle new things or put yourself forward for challenging tasks.

skills concept

3. Skills Developed Through Studying

As well as research, communication and time management skills, maybe the most important skill that studying can give you is the ability to motivate yourself. Employers understand that study requires self-motivation, and they value it. They also appreciate that job candidates who have motivated themselves to study are likely to be able to carry that motivation through into work-based tasks.

4. Skills Developed Through Other Areas of Your Life

This is perhaps the area where people are the most surprised to find hidden skills. Think about your hobbies and interests and how taking part in them has taught you things. If you do voluntary work have you become better at communicating with other people? If you enjoy a sport, has that taught you determination? There is a good reason that employers like to see a range of hobbies and interests on candidates’ resumes; people with hobbies have a far more rounded skillset than those without.

female artist painting on a canvas

Once you have recognised your existing employable skillset you will be in a great position to build on it. Your strengths represent your most likely areas of growth and there are some natural progressions. For example, good teamwork could develop into leadership skills, excellent communication could lead to sales or negotiation roles and problem-solving skills could be a basis for strategic management. Try to find promotion routes or study opportunities to help you make these progressions. Don’t be tempted however to neglect your weaknesses; from time to time try to put yourself into work or home situations where you will have to use underdeveloped skills. Study can also be a great way to address weaknesses and really work on your skills to pay the bills. 

Now put your skills to use in these booming industries

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