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3 core skills to master for career success

Learn how to develop these essential qualities

August 28, 2023

Editor's note: This story originally appeared in the fall 2023 issue of ASU Thrive magazine.

Portrait of

Dakota Webber

Story by Dakota Webber, assistant director of career readiness at the West campus for Career Services.

In today’s world, technology can dominate conversations about necessary skills for today and tomorrow. These indeed are crucial skills, but what about the nontechnical core skills needed to flourish in an ever-evolving world?

Navigating the world of work means strengthening skills such as communication, equity and inclusion, and leadership — timeless for succeeding no matter how technology-driven workplaces become. The beauty of these core skills is that they transfer across any industry and any organization.  

Our team in Career Services has explored skills employers look for in our workforce. Our work is guided by the career competencies defined by the National Association of Colleges and Employers, as well as through interviews with employers across the Valley. 

Let’s dive into three core skills to master for your career success.

Skill 1 – Critical thinking

Critical thinking involves analyzing data or information to find solutions to challenges. In the workplace, this might involve taking the appropriate course of action in a stressful work situation such as when a doctor must triage a patient in the emergency room. Another example could be an engineer having to decide what materials should replace an older material in an elevator. 

You can exercise this skill by using articles that include graphs or numerical data; practice making sense of the data. What does this data suggest? How can you determine if this data is reliable? How do you find out if the data is free of bias? Then identify a problem that the data might help illuminate. What solutions might the data suggest?

Critical thinking happens every day, and as you practice in a more intentional, focused way, you will be able to identify solutions, then communicate these more effectively. And you’ll be able to articulate the value you bring to your work.

Skill 2 – Innovation

Innovation is the ability and process of generating or approaching existing ideas in new ways. Every employer is looking for the next big idea or creative solution, and you can impress your supervisors and co-workers by leveraging this skill. A great example of innovation is Dreamscape Learn at ASU. The university identified a need for virtual reality learning driven by immersion and storytelling and found a way to create and implement this learning-by-experiencing example into the classroom.

Illustration of people cleaning up trash

Practicing innovation in your life starts with identifying areas of need in your workplace or community. For example, if you have noticed that there is an issue with littering in your neighborhood you can collaborate with your neighbors to organize a weekly cleanup day — or brainstorm even more effective ways to reduce the problem. Once you’ve identified challenges, you can take risks and collaborate on solutions.

“Practicing innovation in your life starts with identifying areas of need in your workplace or community.”

Skill 3 – Resilience

Resilience is the ability to bounce back from challenges and do it with optimism and positivity. All of us will face some sort of adversity in our jobs; we’re defined by the way we react to these experiences. An example of resilience at work is being open and receptive to criticism during annual reviews. Resilient employees take feedback as an opportunity for growth.  

Resilience takes time and diligence to master, but one place to start is to evaluate the way you react to uncomfortable situations whether in your life or even while enjoying movies, books or TV shows. See how negative situations make you feel. This will help you recognize these feelings and reactions, so that you can begin to adjust your response when confronted with setbacks in real life.

Put it into practice

Just like building muscle, you have to work on these skills to master them. The effort will pay off. Not only will these skills help you in the workplace, they also will help you succeed in life. 

Tailored resources

Go to Career Services for numerous opportunities, from help with resumes to mock interviews, to videos and articles. CareerCatalyst offers numerous courses, such as Resilience for Everyone, Problem-Solving, Creative Thinking and more.