Professional Development

7 professional skills you should work to improve this year

Written by Kate Lopaze

We’re more than halfway through the year and at this point, it’s a good time to stop for a minute and think about where you are, career-wise. There’s still time left to make serious progress on your goals or start thinking about what you might want to do next year. If you want to make sure you’re getting the most out of 2020, there are some professional tools you can start learning to use now to set yourself up for success.

1. Social media management

Do you review or post social media for professional reasons? Do you mostly use the Twitter app on your phone or Facebook on your desktop? Social media management tools and apps can help you not only automate posts, but also report data, schedule posts, manage your account, and master tagging. Free tools like Hootsuite can guide you through the process of using a management platform to handle all things social media.

2. Coding

Coding is fast becoming one of the basic skill sets that help people in all industries navigate ever-more-technical jobs and systems. STEM education programs are starting kids young with the basics of coding, but don’t worry if baby tech boot camps weren’t part of your own youth. There are lots of tools to get you started (or brush up your skills), no matter where you are in the game.

Coding lessons are abundant on the internet, with sites like Skillcrush and EdX offering boot camps for beginners. Bonus: many of these sites offer free initial lessons to teach the basics.

3. Graphic design

Even if you don’t see yourself as a full-time graphic designer, knowing the basics of web design is one of those skills that can come in handy in seemingly unrelated fields. Worst case, you learn how to build and design sites for yourself. Skillcrush is an MVP here as well, with its emphasis on building supplemental design skills.

4. Photo editing

This is another skill that comes in handy both in the workplace and in your personal life. From graphic displays to the pictures we post on social media, everyone wants to present the best, clearest images possible. Knowing Photoshop can make you an MVP when it comes to creating visually awesome presentations, designing in-house materials, or posting the best photos online.

5. Data/web analytics

We live in a data-driven society, and those who can read reports of clicks and translate that information into a coherent narrative or strategy are going to be more and more valuable. The Google Analytics platform is the gold standard, and it’s one you can get to know by using it on a personal website or taking advantage of Google’s own Google Analytics Academy tutorials. From beginner to analytics expert, these tutorials teach you how to collect and analyze data on the next level.

6. Project management

Who doesn’t like to feel more on top of things, when it comes to organizing and maintaining large projects? Project management skills and expertise also look amazing on a resume, or when you want to put in a request for a raise. Apps like Trello or Asana let you put in project milestones, schedules, and stakeholders so you can manage every step of a project (either solo or as part of a group).

7. Email marketing

Communication skills are essential in just about every single job, in every industry. And given that email is becoming the communication medium of choice just about everywhere, email management and marketing skills are highly valuable. Tools like MailChimp and Constant Contact help you craft your message, find templates, and track emails in real-time.

Building skills is one of the most effective ways to boost your career or jumpstart one that’s feeling stale. And in many of the cases we’ve discussed, tutorials and skill-building can happen inexpensively (or free!) and on whatever schedule you can spare. Even if these tools and skills don’t seem to apply directly to your everyday work, they help you build a stable of highly marketable skills and resume points that will come in handy wherever you seek to land in the future.

About the author

Kate Lopaze

Kate Lopaze is a writer, editor, and digital publishing professional based in New York City. A graduate of the University of Connecticut and Emerson College with degrees in English and publishing, she is passionate about books, baseball, and pop culture (though not necessarily in that order), and lives in Brooklyn with her dog.