Conceptual skills help employees avoid the pitfall of not “seeing the forest for the trees,” as the saying goes. These skills help you see how all the parts of an organization work together to achieve the organization’s goals. People with conceptual skills are creative and can work through abstract concepts and ideas.
What Are Conceptual Skills?
Conceptual skills are essential for leadership positions, particularly upper-management and middle-management jobs. Managers need to make sure everyone working for them is helping to achieve the company’s larger goals. Rather than just getting bogged down in the details of day-to-day operations, upper-and middle-managers also need to keep the company’s “big pictures” aims in mind.
However, conceptual skills are useful in almost every position. Even when you have a particular list of duties, it is always helpful to know how your part fits into the broader goals of your organization.
Types of Conceptual Skills
Below is a list of the most important conceptual skills sought by most employers. It also includes sublists of related skills that employers tend to seek in job applicants.
Develop and emphasize these abilities in job applications, resumes, cover letters, and interviews. You can use these skills lists throughout your job search process. Insert the soft skills you’ve developed into your resume when you detail your work history.
A very important conceptual skill is the ability to analyze and evaluate whether or not a company is achieving its goals and sticking to its business plan. Managers have to look at how all the departments are working together, spot any particular issues, and then decide what steps need to be taken.
- Analytical abilities
- Analysis and diagnosis of complex situations
- Cognitive abilities
- Defining strategies for reaching goals
- Diagnosing problems within the company
- Forecasting for the business or department
- Questioning the connection between new initiatives and the strategic plan
- Recognizing opportunities for improvement
- Seeing the key elements in any situation
- Selecting important information from large data sets
- Understanding relationships between departments
- Understanding relationships between ideas, concepts, and patterns
- Understanding the organization’s business model
Without strong communication skills, an employee won’t be able to share his or her solutions with the right people. Someone with conceptual skills can explain a problem and offer solutions. He or she can speak effectively to people at all levels in the organization, from upper management to employees within a specific department. People with conceptual skills are also good listeners. They have to listen to the needs of the employers before devising a plan of action.
- Active listening
- Contextualizing problems
- Effectively communicating strategy
- Implementing thinking
- Verbal communication
People with conceptual skills must be very creative. They must be able to devise creative solutions to abstract problems. It involves thinking “outside of the box." They must consider how all the departments within an organization work together, and how they can work to solve a particular problem.
- Abstract thinking
- Creative thinking
- Examining complex issues
- Formulating ideas
- Formulating processes
- Intuitive thinking
Someone with conceptual skills also has strong leadership skills. She needs to convince employees and employers to follow her vision for the company. She needs to inspire others to trust and follow her, and that takes strong leadership.
- Commitment to achieving company goals
- Strategic planning
- Task direction
- Task implementation
- Team building
- Visualizing the company as a whole
Once an employee analyzes a situation and identifies a problem, he or she then has to decide how to solve that problem. People with conceptual skills are good at solving problems and making strong, swift decisions that will yield results.
- Able to ignore extraneous information
- Broad thinking
- Critical thinking
- Breaking down a project into manageable pieces
- Decision making
- Executing solutions
- Formulating effective courses of action
- Logical thinking
- Resolving industry problems
ADD YOUR MOST RELEVANT SKILLS TO YOUR RESUME: Review lists of the top skills employers look for when evaluating job applicants, and the best skills to put on your resume to help you get hired.
HIGHLIGHT YOUR SKILLS IN YOUR COVER LETTER: Use your cover letter to show the hiring manager that you're a strong match for the job by mentioning how your qualifications fit the job requirements.
USE SKILL WORDS DURING JOB INTERVIEWS: You can use these words in your job interviews. Keep these top skills in mind during your interview, and be prepared to give examples of how you've used each one.