Experts POol


As I think about the concept of a career, the picture of a journey flashes in my mind. Rarely is a career an instantaneous achievement. The idea of being fit to make this journey intrigues me. I wonder: how strong are we to make the journey and succeed?

Some of us know what we were created to do in life. Some of us believe we have a good idea of what we have been called to do. And yes, some of us are still trying to figure it out. What do all of us have in common? We all must travel down a path. Whether it is to get to where we know we are going, think we are going or are exploring where we want to go. 

To travel requires energy (even if one knows the destination) and it is vital that we have the strength to make the journey. For engaging in a strenuous activity, experts advise us that we should prepare, exercise, eat right and practice healthy habits. Here comes the connection to career development: what are you doing to prepare your skills, sharpen your skills, nourish your skills and demonstrate those skills to explore or make it down your career path of choice?

In 2012, both The National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) and McKinsey & Company independently published results from surveys outlining the skills/qualities that employers wanted in candidates. As we think about preparing for what to develop or strengthen for our career paths, I suggest that the following three skills/qualities identified by both studies are good ones to focus upon:

  • Ability to work in a team structure/teamwork
  • Ability to verbally communicate with persons inside and outside the organization
  • Ability to make decisions and solve problems

Our career journeys rarely are solo experiences. Honing the ability to collaborate with and leverage the skills of others is required for most roles in the workforce.

How often can you think of times when you have heard someone say: "that’s not what I meant"? The skill of verbally communicating to colleagues, customers, suppliers, etc. is what often separates success from failure. Those possessing the ability to effectively verbally communicate tend to be on the success side of the ledger.

Former U.S. Secretary of State John Foster Dulles is quoted as saying: "The measure of success is not whether you have a tough problem to deal with, but whether it is the same problem you had last year." When you face obstacles during your career journey, how strong is your ability to solve the problems and overcome the obstacles? 

One way to help build the foundation for a skill is to find a company (internal or external) that offers training programs for these and other skills. Since most adults learn best by "hands on" experiences, I tend to urge those looking to sharpen and nourish the needed skills for their career path to seek opportunities to be exposed to and practice these skills as part of their daily events – on the job, in their personal lives or in volunteer situations. 

Whatever career path one takes, preparing for the journey and ensuring you are fit to continue down the path will impact how healthy your career will be.

noviskis3 Brian Noviskis, Bus Ad '82, is vice president of human resources of Signode Industrial Group, LLC in Glenview, Ill. Contact him at



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