We’re in changing times, but even if the times weren’t so dramatic you still need to make sure you have a competitive edge in your career.

Having your own career competitive edge often gets lost as we get absorbed in delivering client work and wooing potential clients. It’s easy to fall behind, and then realise you haven’t focused on you until it’s too late and you’ve missed out on career opportunities you really want.

At the moment, you may potentially suffer more dramatic consequences as businesses make tough choices. Roles are likely to be at a premium in the coming months and competition between individuals greater; the danger of ignoring your own development is not one to be taken lightly.

I work with many clients to help them overcome specific challenges and/or work on key development areas to help them move their career forward.

Therefore, I have distilled the key (often neglected) skills I believe professionals need to work on to:

  • maximise their potential
  • have a competitive edge
  • achieve the career success they want.

For each skill, I have briefly explained why it matters and given one top tip. If you want more advice and practical guidance on each skill, then do sign up here for the free short email series and e-Booklet.

The nine skills to give you a competitive edge

  1. Personal Impact

Why this matters: People don’t make decisions based purely on fact, so how you engage with them affects whether they form positive relationships with you or not. Think of the difference positive relationships make whether with colleagues, clients, prospective clients or other business contacts.

Top tip: Consider carefully how you want to come across (thinking of it as three words often helps). This needs to be genuine and achievable for you. To read more about defining your personal brand, click here.


  1. Managing Senior Relationships

Why this matters: Whether you like it or not, senior people make decisions about your career. Investing in these relationships is likely to have a profound effect on your career path overall and what you are involved in on a day-to-day basis.

Top tip: Write down who you need to know internally at a senior level – people who can make your day to day work easier and those who impact your career progression.


  1. Managing ‘Office Politics’ Positively

Why this matters: ‘Office Politics’ is largely unavoidable where you have different people with varying beliefs, assumptions and values. What counts is how you navigate it and whether it is negative or positive. Ignoring it won’t help your career progression. Those who know how to navigate it positively are more likely to progress. You can read more in my guide to ‘Office Politics’ here.

Top tip: Ask a (very trusted) colleague what they think your motivations are at work e.g. why you come to work, how you regard and treat your colleagues, how ambitious you are. Do their answers match how you think you come across?


  1. Building Relationships with Clients and Prospects

Why this matters: Particularly in a service business, how you deal with clients and prospective clients can set you apart from your competitors.  It matters even more as you become more senior because ‘relationships’ will account for more of your ‘day job’, so you must get them right.

Top tip: What do you think your clients value about working with you beyond your ability to deliver the service they require to the standard they require? How do you make them feel? Think about their body language and how they reacted to you last time you engaged with them.


  1. Moving on from Negative Feedback

Why this matters: Being able to hear negative feedback, discern how you need to react to it and move forward from it is key to progress in your career. Either ignoring it or brooding on it won’t help. Getting feedback should be about more than your appraisal, but for help preparing well for that, click here.

Top tip: Reflect on any negative feedback you have received that still impacts how you interact at work. Jot down what it was and the impact it’s still having.


  1. Meeting Effectiveness

Why this matters: You probably spend a lot of time in meetings where you need to be able to contribute information effectively and influence others. Without the ability to manage and participate in them well, your impact is dramatically reduced which affects your career.

Top tip: Consider what you find challenging about running and participating in meetings. Note these down, along with any behaviours you notice yourself repeating that might be less than positive. Consider what you might replace those behaviours with.


  1. Managing a Team Effectively

Why this matters: With increased seniority, it’s likely you will need to manage people. This requires some skill development to make sure your team is an asset, not a burden, and contributes well to the business.

Top tip: You are a role model for your team; are you present enough? And when you are present, what are you actually role modelling for them? Note down your thoughts.


  1. Networking to Get Results

Why this matters: Having a solid network is essential if you have business development responsibilities or will do in the future, and from a personal career perspective too. Too few think about their network before they really need it. Read my guide to networking at events here.

Top tip: Consider whether you have networking objectives and a strategy and whether it’s effective.


  1. Be Prepared to Get Your Next Role

Why this matters: Not being prepared is likely to put you off going for great opportunities due to the preparation work involved and presents the danger that you will get stuck in a role for longer than is sensible for your situation. Click here to read my guide to getting a new role.

Top tip: Do your CV and LinkedIn profile accurately reflect who you are, your experience and your career aspirations? Make any necessary changes/updates to your CV and LinkedIn profile now.


So what do you most need to work on?

In a recent webinar I led, this was the verdict:


Take the time to address your most pressing skill now – it will pay dividends for you and your career.

If you’d like to book a complimentary, no obligation 30 minute Career Booster conversation with me to discuss your situation, click here.

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If you are responsible for performance and/or people development in your organisation, click here to download my guide The overlooked skills your people need to give your company a competitive advantage.