In today's day and age, it's more important than ever to differentiate yourself in the market. Back in your grandparents‘ day, this might not have been true. But nowadays, computers automate more and more jobs. Online work makes labour accessible from all over the world. And competition grows fiercer as the working population increases. How do you make yourself hirable amongst all this? By developing useful money generating skills that are valued in the market.
In So Good They Can't Ignore You, Cal Newport states that skills are what ultimately trump passion or anything else for that matter. If you can develop skills that are both rare and valuable, you will not only be highly marketable, but also develop a career which you love.
In today's post, I'll run through 5 money generating skills which will set you apart from the competition. Let's dive right in!
Attention to Detail
In my opinion, the number one skill you can develop which will set you apart from the competition is attention to detail.
Think of any job right now. Seriously, go ahead and name a job. Now can you imagine what it would be like if whoever had that job was a complete clumsy slob?
- A lawyer miswrites a key term and costs his client millions of dollars
- An engineer forgets to label a certain component on a diagram and the entire building collapses
- A programmer forgets literally a single letter in his code and the entire software doesn't work
- Your doctor misses one of your symptoms and prescribes a drug that ends up killing you
- A fast food worker forgets your exact toppings and puts on something that you're allergic to
Attention to detail is key for jobs that pay $30,000 to jobs that pay $150,000. As a recruiter, you're going to be trying to screen for this trait as much as possible.
How To Develop Attention to Detail?
A few things you can do to start developing this habit are:
- Start putting stuff in your calendar so you never forget them
- When reading something, read every word and make sure you understand what is being said or what is being asked of you
- Check over your work multiple times before submitting
If you're about to go for an interview, some things you can do to make it *appear* like you have attention to detail are:
- Absolutely absolutely absolutely make sure your resume has no spelling errors
- Polish your shoes until they shine
- Press your shirt and pants
Having good presenting skills doesn't mean that you should be able to do a public speech in front of a thousand people. But it DOES mean that you need to be able to communicate your ideas effectively and concisely.
Imagine you're the busy CEO of a company. You assign a task to your employees and ask them to present the work they've done at the end of the week. Which employee are you going to think more fondly of? The one who stumbles over their words and seems like they don't know what they're talking about. Or the one who can quickly summarize their work in a manner which you can understand.
From summarizing the research you've performed on a topic to explaining your designs to higher ups, having the ability to present is invaluable in almost any field. It's not hard to see how being able to present (aka communicate verbally) effectively will increase your odds of being hired and progressing in your career.
How To Develop Presenting Skills
There are actually quite a few avenues you can take which will help you present better and grow overall as a communicator:
- Attend your local Toastmasters club
- Binge-watch TED talks
- Just interact with more people and be mindful of the way you're talking in these interactions
Attending Toastmasters will help you practice presenting skills, watching TED talks will teach you what great presenters do, and interacting with more people just increases all around social intelligence. Things to do which will make you seem like a great presenter in interviews (even though this one is hard to fake):
- Preparing extremely well thought out questions beforehand to ask the interviewer
- Preparing for inevitable interview questions (walk me through your resume, what are your strengths/weaknesses, etc)
- Speaking concisely but clearly
You don't need to be Edgar Allan Poe or Shakespeare to have valuable writing skills. Like presenting, just be able to communicate your findings and thoughts in an easy to read fashion. That's really all there is to it.
I find that a part of having good writing skills is just putting in the work to truly understand what you're writing about. The second is to make an active effort to improve your writing. A couple of quick tidbits on writing are:
- If it's a note to a superior summarizing work, the shorter the better (provided all the same stuff is covered)
- If you're working on making something sound nice, thesaurus.com is your friend
- When you have to pump out a lot of writing, do as much at one time as possible (so you don't lose your train of thought)
Like most things in life, the key to developing great writing skills is practice. The more you practice intentionally writing and communicating, the better at it you'll get.
How To Develop Writing Skills
- Start a blog (just kidding; but also if you want to start one, there are very few downsides…)
- Read more. The more you read, the better you'll understand what good writing sounds like
- Start a journal where you jot down your thoughts for the day/week
Something that very few people tell you about is that no matter what job you're in, there's a component of sales to it:
- If you work with customers, a portion of your pay might be tied to how much money you can get them to spend on your company's products
- If you have coworkers, you're going to be constantly trying to sell them on your ideas and your way of doing things
- Through the very APPLICATION process of the job, you were trying to sell yourself to the company
Now, you might start to panic: “wait but but, I don't know how to sell!!! I've never sold a thing in my life! I couldn't sell a pen if I tried.” Fear not, another thing that people don't often tell you is that you're probably selling in your everyday life ALREADY.
When you try to convince your friends to watch one Netflix show over another, you're selling. When you convince your parents to let you have ice cream as dessert, you're selling. Even when you argue with siblings over who should use the washroom, you are selling.
How To Develop Selling Skills
There a quite a few books out there on selling, including:
Barring aggressively reading, some great tactics to develop your selling abilities are:
- Try to start selling small things around the house (convincing others to your way of thinking)
- Don't be afraid to have disagreements with others and see what you need to do to change their mind
Basic Coding Skills
You can't have a “marketable skills” post in the 21st century without including coding/programming.
When I first started my current job, I was the youngest and most inexperienced intern. Everyone else in my role was at least 3-5 years older than me and had a lot more work experience under their belt. So naturally, for me, the learning was slower.
I honestly didn't know if they would keep me around for my full gap year, but I tried my best to perform all the tasks that were asked of me. Something that differentiated me from the other interns within the first 3 months of working was my ability to code. Some of the work that was asked of us was pretty mundane data entry into excel, and I managed to create a program that could automate most of it for us.
At the time it didn't seem like a big deal, but in retrospect that program saved me TONS of time which I spent working on more meaningful projects. At the end of the day, I think that my pieces of code played a huge role in them keeping me around for so long.
The good thing about coding is that it's not hard: I never took a computer science class above what was offered in high school. There are programming languages out there which are DESIGNED for beginners so almost anyone can learn. It just takes a bit of resourcefulness, problem solving, and logic to code.
How To Develop Basic Coding Skills
When I was writing my code, a couple websites were my best friends:
Other than consulting those websites whenever I ran into a problem I couldn't solve (which was 90% of the time), I also checked out YouTube videos of people who had created similar programs to the one I wanted to create.
Start Building Your Skills!
There you have it. 5 of the best skills to develop in today's day and age. In a world of constant change and increasing competition, having these skills will help you significantly differentiate from your peers in the workforce.
- Attention to detail will allow for your bosses to give you more and more responsibility
- Presenting skills are crucial for summarizing your work and for talking with clients
- Writing skills are needed to ensure clarity and efficiency of communication
- Selling is prevalent in almost every industry and role, if not from you to your colleagues/clients, then at least for you to land a job
- Coding is a new and innovative skill that could help you automate a whole bunch of tasks and leap ahead of your competitors
On top of these, it's also crucial to be a lifelong student. Every single day the world is changing faster than it ever has before, so it's important to constantly learn and and improve your skillsets. As Jiddu Krishnamurti put it, ““There is no end to education. It is not that you read a book, pass an examination, and finish with education. The whole of life, from the moment you are born to the moment you die, is a process of learning.””
Jeff is a current Harvard student and author of the blog Financial Pupil who is passionate about learning, living, and sharing all things personal finance-related. He has experience working in the financial industry and enjoys the pursuit of financial freedom. Outside of blogging, he loves to cook, read, and golf in his spare time.