! Attention: Your 2019 W-2 is now available to view; simply click here !

For information on COVID-19 in: Ohio - click here | Michigan - click here | FFCRA - click here !


Skills to Focus on in the New Year

As time goes on, the world always continues to change, but as long as people exist, we'll be interacting with each other. Whether you are looking for a new career path or achieving a new year’s resolution, there are several core concepts that build the foundation of how we manage these interactions. These are the skills we use every day; from ordering pizza to attending an interview.

Self-improvement is a never-ending journey that everyone goes through. The choice is yours to grow and flourish or become stale.

These key skills are all connected to your continued deeper learning. The focus is on flexibility and adaptability. You will need to be able to focus on ways to get along with others through your understanding of skills such as the following:

1. Critical thinking

This skill involves analyzing facts to reach a conclusion. It is based on a rational, logical, objective evaluation of evidence.

For example: If you wanted to order a pizza, you would need to select a pizzeria to order it from. You have heard good things about a hypothetical pizzeria called ‘The Slice’ and they received an award for best sauce in the county last year. However, those are just opinions and a little research shows that two months ago half their staff quit over a dispute with the owner. Three weeks ago, they received several health code violations so it would probably be best to look somewhere else for your pizza.

Even in the most basic of scenarios, we utilize critical thinking to make educated decisions.

Skills to Focus on in 20212. Problem solving

Practice problem solving by using different methods or strategies to find solutions to problems. Incorporate methods that reflect the type of challenge.

Some common problem-solving strategies include:

  • brainstorming,
  • hypothesis testing, and
  • root cause analysis.

Problem solving can be similar to critical thinking in that it can also implement information gathering, however, it involves applying that information in order to solve a problem.

For example: Oh no! You are trying to order online from your favorite pizzeria, but for some reason it is just not working. Is your phone the problem? It has a full charge and a wi-fi connection, so that's unlikely. Well, what if something is wrong at the pizzeria. A quick check of their social media reveals the culprit, their website went down this afternoon, but thankfully they are still accepting orders over the phone. One problem identified and solved.

3. Communication

Communication skills encompass both your written and oral expression. These skills are your way to express your thoughts and ideas clearly and effectively to others. This is possibly the most important skill on this list as it is how you interact with anyone that is not yourself. It is also one of the easiest to practice as you can do so simply by having a conversation with someone.

For example: The pizzeria must receive your order somehow! If you are calling the order in, be sure tell them everything. If you do not let them know you want onions, they will never know!
On the other hand, if they tell you that they do not have onions right now, you must be actively listening so that you can hear and understand that you'll need to reconsider your order.

Sure this may seem obvious to some, but communication is needs to be stressed as it truly is what we consider, the most important skill on this list.

4. Collaboration

This final skill involves your ability to work with others. It requires empathy, listening, tolerance, and effective communication. People with collaboration skills can handle difficult situations, accept feedback, work with all people no matter anyone’s culture or background and influence and persuade others. They know how to work in a team-oriented environment.

For example: If you are ordering pizza for a group of people, you'll need to collaborate to decide on a pizza that everyone can agree on. Maybe you will have to come to a compromise on what ingredients to have on the pizza. Does everyone get the same number of slices or is it distributed in some other manner? These are the kinds of things you will have to work with others to agree upon.


While some of these skills may seem simple, that does not make them any less important. No matter the scenario, communication can be frustration at times. With these skills and some patience, you will be prepared to take on any challenge! They will be the backbone of your self-improvement and continue to be an invaluable asset to you.

If you would like to preview some other key skills check out our previous post over soft skills


Need additional help developing these skills or even just gaining experience?

Well there are plenty of ways to get started!

Need Experience?

Topics: Establishing a Career, Re-Entering the Workforce, Gaining Experience, Resume, Being a Great Employee, Office Tips