Career Management Skills

See also: Employability Skills

Fifty years ago, most people expected to leave school or university, join an employer and stay there for most of their working life.

Now, however, working life is much more flexible and few expect to have a ‘job for life’. At the same time, recognition has grown that individuals have to do far more to manage their own working life, and their career.

Generally, people no longer need skills to rise through a single employer. Instead, they need skills to create a meaningful, fulfilling career for themselves, and plan their own personal and career development. These are often known as career management skills.


Career Planning and Management

Defining Career Management Skills


Career management skills are all the skills needed to control and manage your career journey. They include:

  • Planning your career, and setting goals and objectives;
  • Developing a strategy for your career;
  • Developing an action plan to deliver on it, including developing the skills required to succeed in your chosen career; and
  • Evaluating your progress against your goals.

SkillsYouNeed contains a numerous pages that may be helpful in career management, across personal skills, interpersonal skills, and learning skills. You may find our Personal Development pages particularly helpful.

This process of career planning and management is likely to be familiar to anyone who has ever done any kind of formal learning, especially involving a personal development element. It is a fairly standard process, but it is also important.

You can drift through life and hope to take advantage of the opportunities that are offered to you. However, without some kind of focused look at your skills and particularly the gaps in them, the opportunities are likely to become fewer and fewer. What's more, you may reach a point where you start thinking “I wish I’d been able to do x…”.

In life, you make your own luck to a certain extent.

Thinking about where you want to be—planning, setting goals, and working out how to deliver on them—enables you to take advantage of more opportunities.

There is more about this process in our pages on Personal Development. In particular, you may want to visit the pages on Personal Development Planning, and Personal Development Top Tips, especially if you are struggling to know where to start.

Developing generic (transferable) skills

There are a number of skills which are likely to be useful in any career, such as good communication skills and other interpersonal skills. These skills are not job-specific, and tend to be about how we relate to other people, or our personal qualities.

These skills are also often known as Transferable Skills or Employability Skills.

If you are not certain where to start with your career development, this type of skill is probably a good option, as it will stand you in good stead whatever you choose to do. These skills are also the easiest to acquire from outside work situations (for example, through volunteering) or even just through social interactions.

Why Not Try Our Interpersonal Skills Self-Assessment?

If you want help identifying areas for development, why not try our Interpersonal Skills Self-Assessment? This will show you strengths and weaknesses, and enable you to target your self-improvement.



Skills for Particular Careers

A number of careers and work areas require very specific skills. For example:

  • Professionals like doctors, lawyers and accountants have to take professional exams, and may study for many years to develop their professional knowledge.
  • Practical work like plumbing or electrical installation may require specialist skills that can only be acquired through practice, training or an apprenticeship.

Other careers may be easier to access if you have some kind of professional training. For example, project management can be done without a qualification, but it can also be easier to get a job in that area if you have a qualification. Without a qualification, it is necessary to have more experience to be able to demonstrate that you can do the job.

Particular jobs may also need particular skills. For example, it is considerably easier to get a marketing job if you have knowledge and experience of social media marketing.

Guest pages on SkillsYouNeed


SkillsYouNeed has a growing number of guest posts that are about the skills required for particular careers or jobs. These include:

Our use our search to find pages relevant to your career.


Skills for Getting a Job

However good your generic or job-specific skills, you also need to be able to apply for and obtain a job.

The skills required to do this include:

The way that you present yourself, in writing or in person, is vital in getting a job. It can also affect interpersonal interactions in your working life, as well as outside work. It is therefore well worth taking the time to consider what impression you want to convey, and how well your clothes and attitude do this.

For more about this, see our pages on Personal Presentation and Personal Appearance.


The Skills You Need Guide to Getting a Job

Further Reading from Skills You Need


The Skills You Need Guide to Getting a Job

Develop the skills you need to get that job.

This eBook is essential reading for potential job-seekers. Not only does it cover identifying your skills but also the mechanics of applying for a job, writing a CV or resume and attending interviews.


To Plan, or Not To Plan?

It is not essential to have a rigid plan for every last move in your career.

Sometimes the most successful career moves are those that arose spontaneously, from a chance meeting or conversation, perhaps. It is important to have sufficient flexibility to be able to take advantage of those opportunities when they arise.

However, to enable you to take advantage of those opportunities, you need to have done sufficient planning to have the necessary skills in place.

It is, therefore, helpful to think ahead from time to time about the opportunities that you would like, and what skills you would need to get there.

Of course, as you develop in your chosen career, you will also learn more about yourself, and what you like to do. Your vision of your preferred opportunities may change, and therefore so may your development needs.

Career management needs, above all, to be relatively flexible.


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