One of the famous sayings of a Chinese military general and strategist Sun Tzu is as follows: “Opportunities multiply as they are seized.”

During your career, these opportunities can only be seized if you have the appropriate skill set. We all know that finding the right job is just the beginning of a successful career. However, the question is whether we have the right qualities to do it and if your answer is no, then you need a bit of pointers.

People have this misconception that work skills are job-specific, like a singer’s ability to belt out a high tune, or a physicist’s ability to calculate gravity. But they are not. Here, we are talking the fundamental job skills that you need, no matter what your work really is. Nobody really cares if you are a tofu baker or a tree surgeon; what matters most is if you have what it takes to become a successful tofu baker or a tree surgeon. That is the difference.

Basic skills, thinking skills, people skills, and personal qualities are considered highly important groups of skills required in the workplace. Here are the top eight work skills that you should have to find success at work. They include (in no particular order) the following:

  • Communication
  • Teamwork
  • Problem-Solving
  • Initiative and Enterprise
  • Planning and organizing
  • Self-management
  • Learning
  • Technology

Now let us discuss each work skill in detail to help you acquire it:


 Imagine spending a day without speaking, listening, reading, writing — or just plain gesturing. Impossible, isn’t it? It is important to hone your public speaking skills, interpret lengthy documents and learn new languages to ensure that you are able to convey or take instructions aptly.


Teamwork can be summarized into four words: getting along with people. Your work will always require some form of interaction, but will depend on how intense a situation is.

It is important to work on developing a helpful and understanding relationship between your team members. However, while working in a team, it is also important to operate independently and contribute to your team’s goals.

Problem Solving

There are two things to remember when you’re solving a problem:

1) Recognize the specific problem.

2) Solve the problem.

Sounds easy? It is, however, far more difficult to execute. Solving a problem can have many gray areas in between, so you have to find the right balance between using your mind and your intuition.

The skill to solve problems efficiently comes handy especially when you are faced with emergencies, when providing customer service, strategizing and dividing resources, and when researching.

Initiative and Enterprise

Initiative is when you know that something needs to be done and you get it done. Enterprise is getting out of your comfort zone (from time to time) to take on daring or risky ventures you’ve never done before. Both are important. At work, employers usually ask themselves this question: “Will X employee use both skills to make the company bigger and better, or will his or her growth be limited to growing his nails 27 inches longer while waiting for the apocalypse to come?”

Initiative and enterprise is evident by your ability to identify new ideas opportunities, attempt to incorporate them in your office and reflect on your shortcomings. It is also important to be adaptive to change in workplace environment or new projects, thus constantly being engaged in your work.

Planning and Organizing

 Our plans miscarry because they have no aim. When you don’t know what harbor you’re aiming for, no wind is the right wind. – Seneca

Planning and organizing, just like communication, are always used at work, although they may vary depending on what kind of work you do. Even if your job is to wear a turtle suit and hand out flyers all day long, you still need to plan and organize your day so you can work more effectively.

It is important for you to list your goals and targets for the day/week, allocate time to complete each goal and then devise a strategy to complete it or designate the task to others.


Managing yourself at work means you have to take responsibility for your actions; it also means you’ll face the consequences of those actions, whether they are negative or positive. The key to effective self-management is having an unbiased view of who you really are – your strengths, your weaknesses, and everything else in between. The famous quote: “Know Thyself” is true after all. When you really know who you are inside and out, then the whole world becomes your own, private playground.

You can do this by constantly evaluating and assessing your work performance, while also receiving constructive criticism from your bosses and colleagues. This will help you gain a better understanding of your job role and enable you to fulfil it.


 One who fears, limits his activities. Failure is only the opportunity to more intelligently begin again. – Henry Ford

Learning is an important skill in the workplace, although many people underestimate its value. Ask yourself this question: has a person been awarded at work because he likes to learn? But if you think about it, the result of that learning will be awarded in the long run, because learning helps you make better decisions and develop newer skills that you can use at work. That, in itself, is worth all your effort.

Not only is it important to learn from past experiences at work but it is also crucial for you to actively try and acquire new skills through training programs, courses or workshops. You should also be curious to learn from other people’s knowledge and experiences, and assess from their achievements and mistakes to learn from them.


A modern workplace is surrounded by technology. Xerox copiers, computers, cameras, printers, and other gadgets have become a part of a typical office environment, and if you don’t know how to operate them, then you’ve already lost a lot of points in work effectiveness. Understanding how to operate and maintain technological gadgets will give you an edge at work.

Understanding these important skills — and using them at work — will be the most valuable tool you’ll ever have when pursuing your career goals. But don’t just stop there – try to apply all these skills in your life as well. This will help you become a more balanced and well-rounded person, and give you a better chance of attaining the kind of success that many people dream about and wish for.

Kumail Hemani is a SEO Director at Searchi, a Dubai-based SEO agency.