Whether you’re an aspiring or current knowledge worker, or you’re hiring mid-level professionals, you’ll need to know the skills that are most important for mid-level professionals to develop.
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 typically don't have direct reports.
In order to help you identify the most essential skills for mid-level professionals, we spoke to knowledge workers and managers across different industries. Based on their responses, we’ve highlighted the top 5 skills for knowledge workers and mid-level professionals, as follows.
#1. Communication skills
Communication skills regularly top the list of skills that recruiters look for. For instance, in this 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.
For mid-level professionals, strong communication skills are particularly crucial. Andrew Tillery, Marketing Director of Map Communications observes that “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 organisation. Being able to effectively communicate establishes you as a reliable, productive person that people can count on.”
A valuable related skill is that of the ability to influence others. Kerry Hanson, Organisational Change Manager from VeggTravel, is a mid-level manager with no direct reports. She shares that from her experience “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. Maintain visibility
The second most important skill for mid-level professionals is the ability to maintain visibility. This skill is connected to communication skills but has a more specific purpose of demonstrating the value of your work and capabilities to your managers and colleagues.
The importance of having a visibility strategy is underlined by a survey of remote workers by Joblist. When remote employees made the effort to stand out, the vast majority of managers (93%) had sincere respect for it. The managers felt the efforts made these employees seem more motivated (68%), more engaged (56%), and more productive (56%).
Here’s a tip on how to stay visible according to Dr Raman K Attri, Senior Global Learning Manager at KLA Corporation. “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.”
For more tips on how to stay visible, read “How to Show Value to Your Employer While Working Remotely.”
#3. Leadership skills
It may come as a bit of a surprise that leadership skills are considered to be important to mid-level professionals who have no direct reports. However, leadership skills are an irreplaceable element of a mid-professional’s skills arsenal.
Mid-level employees who are knowledge workers are often recognised by their employers to have strong and unique sets of skills and abilities. They are thus often trusted with new and challenging tasks that not many others can do. This means that knowledge workers are already displaying leadership skills by having the freedom and responsibility to manage their own work.
In addition, while a mid-level professional may not directly manage other employees, they are likely to have the experience and knowledge to be able to lead projects and tasks. In such circumstances, they are required to work with others and their leadership skills will be essential in driving the success of the projects.
Tillery says, “Leadership skills are incredibly valuable for mid-level professionals. 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 would like to further develop your leadership skills, leadership training courses will teach you the essential techniques for inspiring and motivating others, so that you can achieve successful outcomes every time.
Alongside the ability to motivate others as a leader, it would be advantageous for mid-level professionals to have a strong sense of self-motivation.
A key reason for this, according to Aaron Case, Career Counselor and Resume Writer at Resume Genius, is that “Managers appreciate mid-level professionals who don’t need micromanaging. I’ve had success at Resume Genius partly because I push myself to be productive.”
A second and possibly more important reason relates to the development of a mid-level professional’s career. Tillery highlights that “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.”
Take a look at these personal development courses to get the inspiration you need to continue learning and growing both professionally and personally.
#5. Industry knowledge
As someone whose professional value relies heavily on their knowledge and technical expertise, it’s evident that having up-to-date industry knowledge is vital to knowledge workers.
This trait of ensuring your industry knowledge is current 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.”
Further, your firm grasp of industry trends will impress employers. Charles McMillan, founder of Stand With Main Street says, “Employers will be impressed if you can demonstrate excellent industry knowledge and grasp what makes a firm successful in that area. 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.”
In summary, knowledge workers and mid-level professionals may have different ideas about how to progress their careers. Regardless of how or where you as a mid-level professional wish to head in your career, developing a strong grasp of the 5 above skills and attributes will greatly help you achieve your career goals.
Ready to progress in your career?
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Additional reading on the top skills to develop at different stages of your career:
About the author
Carol Pang is a Digital Content Editor for findcourses.co.uk. Prior to this, she has 12 years of experience in the corporate and financial sectors.
She believes that people are fundamental to an organisation’s success, and that effective training can create a motivated and engaged workforce.