For over twenty-three years I taught successfully at the collegiate level. I ended that part of my adult career as a well-known and well-published full professor before I made an uncommon move into executive management in the business world. I have owned and operated businesses, partnered with many organizations, lectured at numerous businesses, colleges and universities, and have worked with many governmental agencies. Through all of this, I have had incredible opportunities to work with people from all walks of life, many of whom have been very successful. There are a number of things that make people successful: from their confidence, brilliance, ambition, determination, and focus, to their depth of knowledge, mastery of organization, and possession of valuable soft and hard skills.

“While not every successful person has every desirable hard skill, most of them have mastered many; and, a number of hard skills are able transfer easily to other jobs.”

While not every successful person has every desirable hard skill, most of them have mastered many; and, a number of hard skills are able transfer easily to other jobs. Even though soft skills are very important and can be among the final determining factors in who ultimately gets “a job,” having the required hards skills that a potential employer is seeking is almost always what gets someone their first phone call or first interview in any job search.

What are some of the top hard skills that I have personally observed being utilized by successful people?

Top 10 Transferable Hard Skills That People Have That Make Them successful:

  1. THE ABILITY TO TYPE BLAZINGLY FAST – This includes “thumbing” and any type of text entry. If you can type 60 words per minute (75+ WPM is even better) and can be considered a “touch typist,” you will be prolific with getting text-based projects and communications accomplished. If you can type at “the speed of thought,” even better.
  2. MATHEMATICS MASTERY – Be able to perform most math operations, in your mind, and be able to complete any number of calculations involving numbers, fractions, mixed numbers, decimals, and integers. You should be able to apply simple and complex mathematical formulas in ways to solve common workplace problems and be able to apply that knowledge to various software programs and basic financial models or financial scenarios.
  3. SPREADSHEETS/EXCEL – Being able to do simple spreadsheet calculations is not enough to qualify as having this hard skill. Mastery of pivot tables, vertical and horizontal lookups, imports and exports, and the ability to utilize advanced cell formulas for analysis will give anybody a real edge in any job.
  4. WRITING – The ability to type fast is a small part of this skill, but being able to write effectively is a separate and desirable hard skill. While being grammatically savvy is a must, to get ahead, you should be able to write cohesively, convincingly, and be able to effectively communicate your ideas and thoughts through your writing.
  5. MULTILINGUALISM – Do not be one of those people that study a language for two-to-three-years in high school or possibly another two years in college that are only able to “count to ten” and say “hello” in the “studied” language. Having conversational skills in one or more languages will do nothing but open doors for you in any career, even more so if you have also posses a written mastery of the language(s).
  6. DATA MANAGEMENT – If you have trouble keeping track of your own photos, files, and documents on your personal computers, you do not have this hard skill. Understanding and manipulating file paths, network paths, directory hierarchy, organizational structures, placement and retrieval of data locally and via the “cloud,” and managing projects are all a part of this very valuable hard skill. For one to have this ability, they must also be able to easily move data through any digital medium or device.
  7. RESEARCH SKILLS – Even if you have not obtained a PhD, you can still have excellent research skills. Knowing how to find and analyze data, create needed data, and source solutions to problems are incredible skills to have for any job.
  8. MARKETING, DIGITAL AND CONVENTIONAL – This includes all modes of driving traffic successfully to your business or end-goal. This skill could include your ability(s) to effectively understand and manipulate SEO or SEM, generate graphics and successful promotional campaigns, create traditional media campaigns and advertisements, and encompasses all of one’s ability to promote any kind of group, thing, person, or entity.
  9. COMMUNICATION AND NEGOTIATION – How well or effective are you in getting your point across or “selling” your idea? Successful people are able to effectively communicate their thoughts in easy-to-understand ways. They are able to communicate through many mediums and have the ability to negotiate powerfully with successful outcomes.
  10. CMS, LMS, ERP, AND LCMS FLUENCY – If you do not know what these acronyms are, you are not fluent in them. While these management and resource systems all have different purposes, there are many similarities among them that will allow for fluency in working with any of them. At their base level, these systems allow organizations to find, organize, prospect, learn, and analyze various information so that organizational or personal objectives can be met either through sales, administration, or resource management. Being able to jump between any of these systems easily is not unlike how quickly a veteran computer programmer is able to transfer their existing knowledge rapidly a new computer language. If you are fluent in operating your company’s CMS, you will be able to do your job more accurately and with better results than your peers. Defined: Content Management System (CMS), Learning Management System (LMS), Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), Learning Content Management System (LCMS).

Having a deep knowledge of many kinds of information is paramount in one’s ability to transfer, manipulate, or combine skills into new or unlearned skills. Creativity is a very desirable soft skill that plays a huge role in one’s ability to learn new ways to utilize existing skills and transfer them into new skills or in new ways. Creative people, naturally have a heuristic mindset that allows them to unravel difficult puzzles and bring to bear multiple skillsets to solve complex problems.

While there are many hard skills that are very specific (e.g. oracle programming, forensic accounting, or instrumental conducting), the hard skills outlined here are able to be applied to many different kinds of jobs and to many different circumstances. It is never too late to learn these skills or obtain other, similar, skills. The quicker you obtain mastery over these types of hard skills, the sooner you will be able to capitalize and profit by having them.

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