To be hired in today’s turbulent job market, you have to have the soft skills as well as the hard skills.
But have you heard of meta skills? They’re the things that will set you light years apart from other candidates.
These meta skills are shared by some of the top leaders in the world. You can’t necessarily show them on a resume or in a portfolio. They’re not even necessarily defined by experience. They’re inherent traits and skills one possesses as a leader and an employee that, in the world we’re living in today, are imperative for success.
Some meta skills come more naturally to certain people than others. Which meta skills do you have now and which ones can you develop? Let’s break down what a meta skill is and which ones are going to set you apart.
Meta skills, defined
In skill development, we tend to put certain skills or ways of learning those skills into particular buckets. Meta skills are bucket-less, in that they tend to be more focused around the method behind developing, cultivating, and executing other skills. Test Gorilla uses this example:
Although the ability to communicate in Spanish can be considered a specific skill, knowing how to develop the skills to learn any language is considered a meta skill.
Meta skills are those inherent or experience-earned traits that help you cultivate a growth mindset, competency development, and adaptability in a quickly changing world. Most often used in leadership, possessing and showcasing your meta skills is just as important to hiring managers as having the hard skills needed to complete your job tasks.
5 meta skills to elevate your career and become an unmatched candidate
We’ve (collectively) been through the ringer over the last few years: layoffs, a global pandemic, an unstable economy — being able to lead a team with empathy or create an empathetic work environment for your colleagues is an undeniable meta skill. This includes understanding how and why people are reacting a certain way in a situation and being able to acknowledge their perspective with graciousness and understanding.
Confidence is one of those meta skills you really have to see to believe. Leading with confidence or moving forward on a task or action with confidence is oftentimes inherent to the person but can also be developed as you grow more comfortable with your role, industry, or project.
Confidence isn’t reserved just for when you’re right about something, though. Having confidence to take feedback or constructive criticism and apply it thoughtfully shows a great deal of confidence.
Chances are, you’ll encounter and work with people from different backgrounds, ethnicities, and mindsets. Being open to different perspectives, ideas, and people is an important meta skill as our world grows more diverse.
But openness goes beyond just being willing to listen. It may mean casting aside your own best practices or judgments to incorporate these new ideas and perspectives, which can make some people uncomfortable. Those that exhibit true openness put the business, project, or task first on the priority list, so every decision ultimately affects the end goal.
Writing — the act of it and being good at particular kinds of writing — is typically categorized as more of a ‘hard’ skill. Writing tends to be more prominent in some roles than others.
But the ability to write (and write well, conveying your ideas, thoughts, feelings in written words rather than in vocal words) is more of a meta skill than people think. Writing is one of the oldest skills we’ve developed as people, and while technology has evolved over the years, writing is as prevalent as ever. This includes writing for business purposes as well as preservation and logging of personal growth.
Some of us are better at prioritization than others — let’s face it. But prioritization goes beyond just delegating tasks and creating a hit list of which items to prioritize first. In business, prioritization can mean prioritizing huge business choices. It can mean prioritizing where money is spent. It can mean prioritizing people and their needs over business. It goes back to empathy, but understanding how your colleagues, direct reports, and teammates need to be prioritized is a huge (and often overlooked) meta skill.
Develop your meta skills and elevate in your career
These skills may not come easily to you, but they’re worth developing. Keeping them in the back of your mind as you progress in your career and through leadership development can ensure you create opportunities to flex these meta skills and therefore talk about them in future interviews.
Learn more about career development, advancement opportunities, and what’s going on in the world of business: