Asking good questions can help your career

When you consider the types of skills you need to succeed in your career, it’s common to think about skills that relate specifically to the jobs you are seeking. But there are broader, universal skills, like critical thinking, that are just as important.

One skill that’s rarely considered involves the ability to ask good questions. This skill applies in countless settings, from job interviews, dealing with co-workers and customers, and also in negotiations. One of the best ways to disarm a tough negotiator is to ask very specific questions about the consequences of what they are asking for.

This article discusses questions as a conversational tool, and explains the difference between good and bad questions.

“As someone who had little to no experience in business–outside of running my own one-man freelancing operation–all that’s really saved me (so far) from madness are the skills I used as a journalist,” says Evan Ratliff, who wrote for magazines like The New Yorker before founding his startup, The Atavist. One of those skills, he says, is “being able to formulate questions that deliver useful answers, whether from advisors or clients or whomever.”

Good questions can move your business, organization, or career forward. They squeeze incremental value from interactions, the drops of which add up to reservoirs of insight. Of all the skills innovators can learn from journalists, the art of the expert Q&A is the most useful.

The problem is, most of us ask terrible questions. We talk too much and accept bad answers (or worse, no answers). We’re too embarrassed to be direct, or we’re afraid of revealing our ignorance, so we throw softballs, hedge, and miss out on opportunities to grow.

read the entire article to see some of the examples, and it will help you refine your questioning skills.

How to Choose the Best Job for Your Skills

It’s no secret that American’s are now living in an employers market. Gone are the days when headhunters lined up at your door hoping to sign you as a client. Hundreds of hopeful job seekers are even lining up to compete for positions that pay less than what was offered (for the same job) just a few years ago. So what does this mean for today’s job seeker? You need a strategy and it starts with knowing your skills and accepting your strengths and weaknesses.

To get started with assessing your skills and finding a suitable match in the job world, the first thing you need to do is understand the difference between a skill and what you “like” to do or “feel” you’re good at. According to Laurence Shatkin, Ph.D. and career expert:

A skill is a learned capability to perform actions. A skill is a capability because it gives you the potential to do something competently. A skill is learned because it is not something you are born with, and it is not acquired through normal sensory development or through special physical conditioning. It is not a talent or aptitude. A skill allows you to perform actions rather than just know or feel something, which is what makes it valuable to employers.

Keep in mind that critical thinking and a positive attitude are considered skills because they require actions on your part such as learning how to see things from someone else’s point of view, speaking with an upbeat tone or offering assistance with any given task. These skills, combined with certain technical skills such as typing, programming, etc., all make up a skill set and they all contribute to completing projects and other work related tasks.

So, now it’s time to take out a pen and a piece of paper and jot down your skills. After you have written your skills on a piece of paper, take a long, hard look at them. Now rate them. Use 1 for “low level,” use 2 for “moderate level” and use 3 for “high level.” Once you have done this, choosing the best jobs for your skills will be easy.

Below are just a few examples of best jobs for people with a high level of communication skills, equipment use/maintenance skills, computer programming skills, management skills, science skills, and social skills. These positions are listed as the top ten best jobs for your skills out of 50 by JIST Works, America’s Career Publisher. Please note that these careers require a “high level” of the listed skill and each list offers a wide variety of positions for all different education levels and personality types.

Communication Skills

  • - Teachers (Postsecondary)
  • - Surgeons
  • - Dental Hygienists
  • - Medical Scientists
  • - Personal Financial Advisors
  • - Physical Therapists
  • - Physician Assistants
  • - Pharmacists
  • - Social and Community Service Managers
  • - Market Research Analysts

Equipment Use/Maintenance Skills

  • - Network Systems and Data Communications Analysts
  • - Anesthesiologists
  • - Management Analysts
  • - Network and Computer Systems Administrators
  • - Computer Support Specialists
  • - Pipe Fitters and Steamfitters
  • - Plumbers
  • - Medical and Clinical Laboratory Technologists
  • -Airline Pilots, Copilots, and Flight Engineers
  • -Forest Fire Fighters

Computer Programming Skills

  • - Computer Software Engineers (Applications)
  • - Computer Software Engineers (Systems Software)
  • - Computer Systems Analysts
  • - Computer and Systems Information Managers
  • - Network Systems and Data Communications Analysts
  • - Computer Security Specialists
  • - Network and Computer Systems Administrators
  • - Financial Analysts
  • - Accountants
  • - Actuaries

Management Skills

  • - Computer and Systems Information Managers
  • - General and Operations Managers
  • - Computer Security Specialists
  • - Medical and Health Service Manager
  • - Sales Managers
  • - Management Analysts
  • - Marketing Managers
  • - Accountants
  • - Auditor
  • - Medical Scientists

 Science Skills

  • - Anesthesiologists
  • - Internists (General)
  • - Obstetricians and Gynecologists
  • - Psychiatrists
  • - Surgeons
  • - Family and General Practitioners
  • - Computer Software Engineers, Systems Software
  • - Pediatricians (General)
  • - Pharmacists
  • - Teachers (Postsecondary)

Social Skills

  • - Internists (General)
  • - Obstetricians and Gynecologists
  • - Psychiatrists
  • - Registered Nurses
  • - Family and General Practitioners
  • - Pediatricians (General)
  • - General and Operations Managers
  • - Dental Hygienists
  • - Auditors
  • - Medical and Health Service Managers

For a complete list of jobs, profiles, salaries, expected job growth and more, visit the Bureau of Labor Statistics at Bls.gov.

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