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The California Career Center. Dream Big, Set Goals, Take Action!

Skills & Qualities for the 21st Century World of Work

The work world changes so fast that tomorrow’s careers may not even exist today. But you can still be prepared by developing skills and qualities that are used throughout the world of work.

Build your employability skills and be ready to work wherever you go. So, what skills should you develop?


Develop Positive Relationships with Others by

  • Interacting with respect and in a non-judgmental, non-offensive manner
  • Applying problem-solving strategies to improve relations with others
  • Helping co-workers accomplish tasks or goals

Communicate Effectively with Others by

  • Adjusting the communication approach for your audience, your purpose, and the situation
  • Modeling behaviors to show active listening
  • Asking appropriate questions for clarity

 Collaborate with Others by

  • Working effectively in teams with people of diverse backgrounds regardless of sex, race, ethnicity, nationality, gender identity, religion, political views and/or abilities
  • Sharing responsibility for collaborative work and decision making
  • Using the problem-solving process to work through differences of opinion in a constructive manner to achieve a reasonable compromise

 Maintain Composure Under Pressure by

  • Using critical thinking skills to determine the best options or outcomes when faced with a challenging situation
  • Acting in a respectful, professional and non-offensive way while under pressure
  • Carrying out assigned duties while under pressure

Demonstrate Integrity by

  • Carrying out responsibilities in an ethical, legal and, if necessary, confidential manner
  • Taking personal responsibility to correct problems
  • Modeling behaviors that demonstrate self-discipline, reliability and dependability

 Perform Quality Work by

  • Carrying out written and verbal directions accurately
  • Asking for clarification or more information so you understand what’s expected
  • Using equipment, technology, and work strategies to improve workflow

 Provide Quality Goods and Services (internal and external) by

  • Displaying an enthusiastic attitude and desire to take care of customer needs
  • Seeking out ways to increase customer satisfaction
  • Displaying a respectful and professional image to customers

Show Initiative & Self-direction by

  • Prioritizing and carrying out responsibilities without being told to do it
  • Responding with enthusiasm and flexibility in handling tasks that need immediate attention
  • Balancing your personal activities to minimize interference with work responsibilities

Adapt to Change by

  • Showing flexibility and willingness to learn new skills
  • Using problem-solving and critical-thinking skills
  • Modifying your work behaviors based on feedback, unsatisfactory outcomes, efficiency and effectiveness

 Demonstrate Safety and Security Regulations and Practices by

  • Following the employer’s safety requirements
  • Following security procedures
  • Maintaining a safe work environment

 Use Technology, Information, & Media by

  • Applying technology effectively in the workplace
  • Accessing and evaluating information
  • Accessing training manuals, websites, and other job-related media


 Complete Training or Certification Requirements for Your Job by

  • Participating in required career-related training and/or educational programs
  • Passing certification tests to qualify for licensure and/or certification 
  • Participating in company training and orientation

 Set Personal Goals for Improvement by

  • Making your goals specific and measurable 
  • Identifying strategies to reach your goals
  • Tracking your progress and regularly evaluating and modifying your plan to reach your goals

Use Succeed at Work [PDF] to help you develop these skills. Use it to dig deeper into the following skills employers say are critical:

  • Professionalism
  • Communication
  • Teamwork
  • Critical Thinking & Problem Solving
  • Enthusiasm & Attitude