Most Important Business Skills for Workplace Success

List of Business Skills for Resumes, Cover Letters and Interviews

Business people interviewing for a job in a modern office
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The most popular undergraduate major in the United States in the past few years has been business. Marketing, selling, understanding strategy, and understanding details while also keeping the big picture in view are all important parts of working within or running a business. It doesn’t stop there, however.

Employers seek business candidates who have high levels of emotional intelligence, people who are great communicators, and people who can manage their time and organize their workflow. Passion and determination can go a long way, and those skills are proven over time. An entrepreneurial spirit, a community-oriented mindset, and a tendency toward innovation can also benefit those seeking jobs in business.

The Importance of Business Skills

Going into business is popular and can be highly lucrative. The earning potential in business is likely what attracts most candidates. It takes more than technical and learned skills to be successful in the field, though.

Have a look at these lists of business skills and qualities that should be incorporated into resumes, cover letters, job applications, and interviews. Skills will vary based on the job for which you're applying, so also review our list of skills listed by job and type of skill.

Top Business Skills

Communication

To communicate effectively, you must be as good a listener as you are a talker. Being in business means working with other people, both as a leader and as a subordinate. Both roles require humility, a civil attitude even under duress, and respect. To communicate well, you’ll need to have a grasp on written, verbal, and non-verbal communication.

You should be able to articulate your thoughts clearly, both in writing and in meetings. You should be comfortable speaking one on one, and it will help if you can get comfortable with public speaking, in smaller groups like business meetings as well as in larger groups.

Finance

Managing financial decisions is a key part of the role of most business employees. This means that candidates should understand a company’s financial needs, as well as the intricacies of what the market is currently demanding. Employers will seek candidates who can analyze a financial situation, draw logical conclusions, and then implement action. A good candidate will be able to articulate the financial reasons behind their decisions. They should also be able to produce detailed and accurate financial reports.

Delegation

Managing people, or even working alongside peers, doesn’t mean taking on all of the work yourself. In business, a spirit of collaboration benefits everyone, and part of collaboration is delegation. This means offering other people opportunities to do work, even if you think it will benefit your own clout or resume to do it yourself. Delegation is also an important part of time management. If you take everything on yourself, chances are your work in key areas will suffer. Someone who excels in business will be able to manage their own workload by appropriately delegating tasks and projects to colleagues and subordinates.

Soft Skills

It’s tempting to focus on technical and analytical skills when discussing business qualities, but soft skills are every bit as important as the things you learn about in business school. Some of the top soft skills essential to be successful in business are things like being a team player, which means being unselfish and cooperative, considering what’s best for the group and not just for you.

Having a flexible attitude means going along with a plan even if it’s not one you favor or agree with. Problem-solving is another major soft skill to cultivate. When unexpected wrenches are thrown into the gears, a good problem solver will stay calm and think critically to get things moving again. Problem solvers are high-value to employers. Similarly, confidence is a soft skill that’s of high value, but not false confidence or a haughty attitude that’s undeserved. Confidence must be backed up with real knowledge, skill, and ability.

How to Use Skills Lists

Use the skills mentioned here as you create your resume or cover letter, or as you search for a job. Pepper your resume and cover letter with these keywords, and prep for your interview by coming up with ways that you’ve demonstrated these skills in your prior work. Each job will require different skills and experiences, so make sure you read the job description carefully, focusing on the skills listed by the employer.