Whether you’re an accountant, a writer, a teacher, a scientist, or something else, I think there are a handful of skills and traits that are invaluable to have no matter what you do. Here is my top eight must-have abilities and qualities that will help you in every area of your life.

Critical thinking.

It’s easy to get into autopilot mode when you’re a busy person with a lot of things to juggle, but the ability to think about things critically is so important We all run into issues in our jobs. It’s crucial to assess difficult situations carefully, consider the many facets, and make decisions based on your conclusions. And when you do come to a conclusion, test your thinking process by asking yourself why.


Life is a whole lot easier when you learn to work well with others (and does anyone know this better than a college student?), so learn to be a collaborative person who respects other opinions and ideas. Every person has different skills and knowledge; the best teams leverage each member’s strengths to work toward a common goal.

Problem solving.

For most of us, work problems are a daily occurrence. If I wasn’t able to stay calm, think through solutions, ask for help, and exercise resourcefulness, I’d probably feel totally overwhelmed most days. Learn to tackle problems in a methodical way. Also, remember that there’s always room for improvement in any organization. Think you have a better way of doing things in your department or company? Offer your ideas to the boss. Adding value will always make you more valuable.

Good communication.

Boy, is this important. Learn to communicate your thoughts in a clear way, both in the way that you speak and in your writing. If you need to improve in this area, take a class. At Front Range, Interpersonal Communication (COM 125), Basic Writing Skills (ENG 030), and Writing Fundamentals (ENG 060) are great basic courses to help students fine-tune these essential skills.


You’re super smart and you make great decisions — good for you! But be humble. Arrogant people are hard to be around, and even if you think you have the best answer, it’s an important part of working on a team to hear others’ ideas. And who knows, you might just learn something when you open your mind.

Big-picture thinking.

I’m a details girl, so it’s been a challenge for me to learn to think “big picture” in my career, but it’s so important. Learning to step back from any situation and think about it on a grander scale will be useful in many areas of your life. I think this goes hand in hand with planning ahead. You’re working on a huge project and you’ve broken it into a bunch of small steps. Wonderful—but remember to keep the long-term vision top of mind, too.

Positive attitude.

Demonstrate passion—if not passion for your job, passion for doing your job as best you can. When problems crop up in your life or job, think about how to fix them instead of wallowing in them.


Bad listening will get you into a lot of trouble in any career. We all have our off days, but learn to listen to people and to show them that you’re listening.

What skills do you find invaluable in a variety of career and life settings?

Related Posts