Credentials aren’t everything. Ask any hiring manager or HR coordinator, and they will tell you that degrees and recommendations will only get your foot in the door. For success, you are going to need to master a few soft skills. The good news is that, regardless of your age, it’s never too late to improve your soft skills. And these skill sets will serve you throughout your life, even if you make a career change.

Communication
Communication skills include written and oral communication, as well as active listening. Understanding others and having the ability to communicate your ideas clearly, concisely and persuasively is necessary for any work environment. Whether it is drafting an important email or giving a presentation, your communication skills are integral to your success. A session with a career counselor or executive coach can often give you great insight into how to improve your communication skills. There are also dozens of books by reputable career coaches on how to improve your communication skills.

Problem Solving
Many people are good at identifying problems but have no idea how to solve them. Problem-solving is a compound skill. It requires creativity, some data analysis skill, and communication skills. If you find yourself at a loss when there is no clear protocol to follow, or constantly anxious that things won’t go according to plan, you may need to improve your problem-solving skills. Try adding some brain teasers and puzzles to your daily routine. Find outlets for your creativity. And when faced with a difficult situation, get into the habit of sticking with the problem just a little longer.

Productivity
Productivity sounds like a buzz word these days. We are all trying to find ways to pack more things into the same twenty-four hours. But productivity isn’t just about accomplishing more, it is also about being able to deliver results. We want to eliminate days that are packed with busy work that does very little to move us closer to our goals. Productivity includes goal setting, prioritizing, delegating, time management, and knowing when to say no. If your days seem to be busy, but your goals don’t seem to be getting any closer, you need to work on your productivity.

Self-improvement is a lifelong pursuit, and honing your soft skills should be part of that investment. Take a class, read a good book, or attend a seminar to help you get the skills to take your career to the next level.