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Your Future Career 2020

Top tips on boosting your life and work skills

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Magda Knight

Editor, Youth Employment UK

You can build life and work skills over time to stand out in any job you do and any career direction you take. Proving you have these skills in job interviews can help you get hired.

Here are five top tips from Youth Employment UK on building the key skills of self-belief, self-management, communication, teamwork and problem solving.


In any job, project or new step you take in life, confidence counts for a lot. Confidence is about having motivation and a positive attitude, learning from setbacks to keep moving forward.

  • Use any critical feedback at work to help you learn
  • Volunteer to help out work colleagues


Self-management is about taking charge of how you handle things at work and in life. You’ll work without always being told what to do. You’ll plan ahead to avoid chaos. Finally, you’ll consider yourself responsible for results – both good and bad.

  • Arrive at your job every day and on time. If you can’t meet a deadline for a task, don’t be shy or proud – tell a team leader so they can change their plans. This shows you care about your job and understand the need for being organised.
  • Plan your time, whether you are in a job or looking for one. Keep your diary planner up to date.


Communication comes in three forms: speaking, writing and body language. How can we get our message across through good communication and active listening?

  • In job interviews it’s not just what you say but how you say it. Make eye contact, don’t slump and don’t fidget. It’s fine to take a moment to make sure you understand what’s being said.
  • Contribute to team projects and meetings. There are lots of opportunities to get your voice heard and offer new ideas.
  • Listen as well as talk. Active listening is about really paying attention to what other people say.


Employers want to hire people who work well in teams because they need everyone supporting each other on a project for a business goal to succeed.

From volunteering to planning office birthday parties, there are lots of ways to show your good teamwork skills.

  • In team meetings take everyone’s ideas on board. Teamwork means listening to others, encouraging them, and being flexible.
  • Go the extra mile if it helps your team perform and feel better. Perhaps stay later to finish a client report, or provide snacks when spirits need lifting.
  • Support others and be willing to take instruction from line managers and team leaders. A good team means everyone works well together.

Problem solving

Life and work are full of challenges. In job interviews, employers want to know how you will deal with problems when they crop up at work.

  • In job interviews, be ready to give an example of a problem you solved or challenge you overcame. Employers will want to hear how you’ve dealt with problems in the past.
  • Describe how you went about finding the cause of the problem, examined your options and applied a solution.
  • You will always have problems you’ve overcome in life, so look back on your achievements and think how you overcame those challenges.

It’s never too early or late to start learning these five key skills, and they’ll give you the best foundation to thrive in work AND in life.

Youth Employment UK is the leading organisation championing youth employment.
To see how you can get regular free training in these skills if you’re aged 14-24, visit the Young Professional hub on Youth Employment UK’s website.

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