10 Examples of Practical Skills and Ways to Improve Them
Updated 22 January 2023
Employers often hire individuals based on the skills they possess and how those skills can benefit the company. Many professionals acquire practical, non-industry-specific skills to broaden their skill set. Learning about these skills may help you obtain a leadership role, advance your career or broaden your job prospects. In this article, we define practical skills, provide 10 examples, explain their importance and highlight steps to improve them.
What are practical skills?
Practical skills typically refer to the abilities that employees acquire to perform their duties efficiently. You can learn many of these skills without undertaking formal education or certification. They may include interpersonal, physical, creative, hard or soft skills. You can gain them by studying, working or training.
Related: Hard Skills vs. Soft Skills
10 examples of practical skills
The following are 10 examples of practical skills that you can use in the workplace:
1. Digital literacy
This skill involves using computers and technology. You might require digital literacy skills to work in a company that uses digital technology, such as mobile devices, social media platforms and the internet, to communicate or store and convey information. This skill enables you to manipulate, create and manage information. Digital literacy skills often develop with new technologies, updates and applications, so it's essential to familiarise yourself and keep up to date with programs like spreadsheets and word processors.
Employers often value individuals who can solve problems efficiently. Problem-solving skills can help you define issues, suggest alternatives and make good decisions. If you want to occupy a leadership position, having this skill is crucial because it helps you provide solutions that can benefit a corporation. You can apply this skill in any industry. To improve your problem-solving skills, you can play brain games like puzzles and practise brainstorming and offering possible solutions to problems.
3. Speed reading
Speed reading typically means understanding or absorbing documents quickly. Many professionals use this skill to read several documents, emails, reports, files and presentations in a day. Skimming and scanning are common speed-reading tactics that employees use to increase their productivity. Scanning usually involves searching a document rapidly to find specific facts, while skimming refers to quickly reading a document to get a general overview. Acquiring this ability can help you improve your logical thinking.
Leadership skills are vital in helping you oversee the efficiency and productivity of a team. This skill typically enables you to delegate tasks and organise a team efficiently. This skill may help you advance your career and move into a managerial role. Another benefit of developing this practical skill is that it can help you reduce a company's employee turnover. This is because it involves coaching, empowering and motivating employees to perform better. You can improve this ability by practising active listening and providing feedback to employees and clients.
5. Public speaking
Public speaking is an important form of communication because it can help you form connections and influence decisions in a corporation. Professionals use this skill to present information to an audience. It's valuable in helping you pitch ideas to clients and give demonstrations in meetings. For example, you may give a presentation to instruct your colleagues on how to operate the software. Effective public speaking often aids career advancement because it indicates that you have other practical abilities, such as critical thinking, creativity and leadership skills.
Writing skills enable professionals to communicate their ideas through written words. They're in high demand because well-written documents, posts and emails often help companies persuade customers to purchase a product or clients to invest in a business. Writing is critical because it can influence how other employees perceive your professionalism. With this ability, you can maintain clear communication and accurate documentation. Common writing skills include research, editing and outlining.
This is the ability to receive and convey information effectively. Acquiring this skill can enable you to understand information accurately and quickly. Communication skills often involve active listening, public speaking and giving feedback. Active listening means paying close attention when an individual speaks. To improve your communication skills, you can attend seminars and workshops that focus on how to become a good speaker or listener.
Programming or coding skills usually involve using programming languages to create commands and instruct a computer on the actions it may perform. This ability often enables professionals to make computer software, applications, websites and video games. Having this skill can help you create innovative digital products. Programming can also offer you several career opportunities because it's in high demand in many industries.
Most employers value individuals who can generate new ideas and use their imagination to provide solutions, which can help a company increase its revenue. Creativity helps you to find interesting methods to complete tasks and projects. A creative individual can look at situations from different perspectives. Creative thinking often includes analysis, open-mindedness, organisation and problem-solving. Presenting yourself as a creative thinker can make you a potential candidate for a job.
10. Digital marketing and social media
Social media is an effective marketing tool that can help a business maximise its reach and improve engagement. Professionals with this skill often create ideas for marketing campaigns to increase a company's audience. Acquiring this skill may show employers that you understand the digital marketing field. Graphic design, writing, marketing strategy and content management are essential social media skills. You can improve this ability by taking marketing courses to gain experience.
Steps to improve practical skills
Review these tips to improve your practical skills and knowledge:
1. Take training courses
You can improve business skills by taking a training course relevant to your field. Several online platforms offer courses that can enable you to enhance these skills. When applying for a training course, consider the role you may perform in the company. For example, if you're applying for an accountant position, it's essential you have skills such as problem-solving, communication and budgeting. With training, you can demonstrate these skills to your employer.
2. Practise effective communication
Another excellent way to improve your business skills is by practising effective communication. Communication is a soft skill that usually benefits every employee in a company. It enables you to learn new methods and collaborate with your colleagues. It's important to form good working relationships with your colleagues because this can offer you networking opportunities. Developing your communication skills may improve your emails and group presentations. You can improve your communication by reading books, participating in group discussions and attending conferences.
3. Be open to feedback
Listening to feedback typically enables you to receive constructive criticism and perform effectively in your role. It helps you identify your weak areas to evaluate your performance for improvements. You can receive feedback on a variety of skills, including problem-solving, public speaking or digital literacy. Constructive feedback also creates a healthy work environment by boosting productivity and engagement in a company.
4. Be proactive
Proactivity often improves your performance by making you innovative. When you're proactive, you can quickly solve problems and find opportunities for improvement. It also improves the decision-making process because it enables you to outline the goals you want to achieve. As a proactive employee, you may become self-aware and improve your skills and abilities.
5. Set milestones
Setting clear milestones enables you to track your schedule and meet deadlines. Doing this can help you to identify potential obstacles that may interrupt your workflow. If you're working on a project, milestones can help you ensure that it's advancing according to the initial plan. You can set milestones easily by saving your important dates on an online calendar and improving your project evaluation skills.
Importance of practical skills
Practical skills often enable professionals to improve their productivity in their workplace. They can also help you gain influence in social circles. When you equip yourself with these skills, you may become an effective manager or a mentor to entry-level employees. Acquiring these abilities can give you a competitive advantage during recruitment and help you to achieve success in your role quickly. You can use them to solve issues and generate new ideas. Other common benefits of gaining practical skills include:
promoting experiential learning
increasing independence and confidence in the workplace
enabling you to participate actively at work
improving your relationship with colleagues
increasing a business's efficiency
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