Whether you’re an aspiring or current mid-level professional, or you’re hiring mid-level professionals, you’ll need to know the skills that are most important for mid-level professionals to learn.
Who are mid-level professionals?
Mid-level professionals may be known as knowledge workers. This is a common refrain from them:
“I enjoy the work I’m doing. As I climb the seniority ladder, I don’t want to end up spending time managing people & not doing the work I love.”
Mid-level professionals are highly valued for their skills & experience. They don’t typically have direct reports.
In order to help you determine the most essential skills for mid-level professionals, we spoke to managers and knowledge workers from different industries. Based on their responses, we’ve identified the top 5 skills for mid-level professionals, as follows.
#1. Communication skills
Communication skills is one of the most important skills for professionals of any level and it regularly tops the list of skills that recruiters look for. For example, in a survey by GMAC, recruiters in the technology industry cite strong communication skills as the most important reason for their confidence in business schools to prepare graduates to be successful.
Effective communication skills are particularly crucial for mid-level professionals. According to Andrew Tillery, Marketing Director of Map Communications, “Effective communication skills are vital to mid-level professionals, because you are often involved with dozens of different groups both inside and outside of the organization. Being able to effectively communicate establishes you as a reliable, productive person that people can count on.”
A related ability is the skill to influence others. Kerry Hanson, Organizational Change Manager from VeggTravel, is a mid-level manager with no direct reports. She highlights that “the art of influencing is an essential skill set especially if a manager doesn't have direct reports. The ability to talk in someone else's 'language' and convince them to take action without any formal authority is key to getting ahead.”
#2. Leadership skills
It may seem counterintuitive that leadership skills are considered to be important to mid-level professionals who have no direct reports. Nevertheless, leadership skills are crucial to the work that mid-level professionals and knowledge workers do.
Mid-level employees who are knowledge workers are valued by their employers to have unique skill sets. Hence, they are trusted with new and challenging tasks that not many others can do. This means that knowledge workers have the freedom and responsibility to manage their own work and are displaying leadership skills by this nature of their work.
Furthermore, while a mid-level professional may not be a people manager of other employees, they have the experience and knowledge to lead projects and tasks. In these circumstances, they would have to work with others and their leadership skills will be crucial in ensuring the success of the projects.
“Leadership skills are incredibly valuable for mid-level professionals,” Tillery says. “When people can look to you for direction and superiors can be sure that you'll take control and see things through, you have tremendous value.”
If you wish to develop your leadership skills, team leadership training courses will teach you the techniques for motivating others, so that you can lead your team to success.
Alongside the leadership skills to motivate others, it would be beneficial for mid-level professionals to cultivate a deep sense of self-motivation.
Aaron Case, Career Counselor and Resume Writer at Resume Genius, shares his experience as a mid-level knowledge worker. “Managers appreciate mid-level professionals who don’t need micromanaging,” Case says. “I’ve had success at Resume Genius partly because I push myself to be productive.”
Self-motivation is also vital to the development of a mid-level professional’s career. According to Tillery, “Another top skill that mid-level professionals require is commitment. That commitment should come in the form of investing in yourself. There is no better investment, and those that commit themselves to regularly learning and improving are the ones with the most successful careers.”
Check out these personal development courses and get the inspiration to continue learning and growing both professionally and personally.
#4. Be visible
Another important skill for mid-level professionals is the ability to maintain visibility. This will help you demonstrate the value of your work to your managers.
A survey of remote workers by Joblist underlines the importance of having a visibility strategy. When remote employees made the effort to stand out, the vast majority of managers (93%) appreciate these efforts. Managers felt the efforts made these employees seem more engaged (56%), more motivated (68%), and more productive (56%).
According to Dr Raman K Attri, Senior Global Learning Manager at KLA Corporation, here’s a tip on how to stay visible. “While mid-level professionals may have a lot of experience and knowledge, not all mid-level professionals know how to stay visible,” Attri says. “One of the senior professionals working for me made sure that he sends me a list of accomplishments, new actions identified, and risks or alerts every Friday without fail. Even though no such protocol was given, it allowed him to be much more visible with me. Eventually, he was promoted to be a manager.”
#5. Up-to-date industry knowledge
As someone whose professional value is largely determined by their knowledge and technical expertise, it is clear that having strong industry knowledge is vital to knowledge workers.
This trait of ensuring your industry knowledge is up-to-date is related to that of the self-motivation attribute. According to Corporate Finance Institute, “Knowledge work requires continuous growth, due to the need to keep up with technological developments. Workers must be interested in finding new information and applying it in their work. With new technologies being released every day, they must improve their skills to handle complex tasks and integrate the latest technologies into their work.”
Moreover, your firm grasp of industry trends will make you stand out to employers. “Employers will be impressed if you can demonstrate excellent industry knowledge and grasp what makes a firm successful in that area,” says Charles McMillan, Founder of Stand With Main Street. “Applicants must demonstrate a sincere interest in what might be their long-term career; therefore, industry knowledge is essential. As a result, your knowledge of industry changes will show employers that you are eager to further your career in their specific area.”
To conclude, whatever direction mid-level professionals and knowledge workers choose to take to grow their careers, developing a strong grasp of the 5 above skills and attributes will greatly help mid-professionals achieve their career goals.