Skills to Build Your Career

african american man reading a book

You probably have more skills than you realize.

A skill is a learned or natural ability to do something. Planning a meal is a skill. Taking care of people is a skill. Managing your money is a skill. Employers will hire you to use your skills in good-paying, in-demand careers.

First, know what your skills are, which careers match your skills, and how to strengthen your skills.

You have two types of skills that you can use at work: occupational skills and employability skills. Occupational skills, or technical skills, are a set of knowledge and skills that employees need for a specific job or occupation.

Examples of occupational skills:

  • Understanding medical terms
  • Driving a forklift
  • Customer service skills

Know what occupational skills you need to start or advance in your career. Look for short-term training that will help you build on the skills you need in a new career.

Employability skills prepare individuals for any job. They are also known as soft skills or workplace skills.  Employability skills easily transfer to many careers. If you are thinking of changing careers, you might be more qualified than you realized.

As you think about the right short-term training for you:

  1. find out which skills employers value
  2. think about which skills you have that will help you get hired and keep a job

Are you aware of all the skills you have? Do you know all that you could contribute to the workplace? It’s common for job seekers and career changers to underestimate their skills and abilities.

First, think about what skills you already have. Then try the following:

  1. Your skills may transfer to a different type of job. Learn more about transferable skills.
  2. Decide which short-term training options you want to try to build on the skills you have.

This Skills Matcher tool lets you rate how strong your skills are and finds career options that match your skills. You can use the results to see what skills you might work on to qualify for a new career.

Just Be Yourself
Some employability skills are personality traits. If you understand what employers value, you will know how to talk about your skills during job interviews. Employers in all career areas want to work with people who are dependable, willing to learn new things, and are good team members.

Other personal qualities that can help your career:

  • Be organized. Arrive to work on time, or early
  • Have a positive attitude toward work
  • Be comfortable working with people of diverse backgrounds
  • Complete tasks on time and accurately
  • Be flexible and adaptable
  • Complete all tasks, even if unpleasant
  • Be friendly and polite
  • Resolve conflicts calmly and appropriately
  • Take responsibility for own decisions and actions
  • Be honest and trustworthy

If there is something that you need to work on, find a short-term training workshop or basic skills class at a Minnesota State campus that can help you strengthen your employability skills.

Help us Understand Your Job-Seeking Experiences. Take a Short Survey.

Minnesota State is seeking volunteers to respond to a survey, which may include providing private information under state and Federal law. Your responses are confidential, and the goal of the survey is to understand your job-seeking experiences, challenges, and unmet needs for supports. The survey is being conducted by an independent research team at UW-Whitewater and has been reviewed and approved by the UWW Institutional Review Board (IRB-FY2021-2022-23). 

*By filling out this form you are providing information which may be private data under Minnesota law. Minnesota State will use the information you provide in this form to contact you about your inquiries regarding the Minnesota Skill Up project only, and for internal business purposes as allowed by law, and not for any other purpose unless required by law or Board policy.