Maximizing professional success: Beyond skills and experience

March 14, 2024

A degree and years of experience are great attributes when finding the dream job, but there’s more to the story. There are plenty of internal and external factors that can affect your career’s trajectory like confidence, soft skills, and a work-life balance.

Let’s examine each factor to understand how you can propel your career—no matter what it is—further.

Be confident

It may seem cliche, but confidence and pride in oneself are essential for success as you work up the corporate ladder. Generally, people with high self-esteem have positive feelings about themselves, so they’re not afraid to take on a challenge or find a way to advance their career. Meanwhile, if you have low self-esteem, you’re more likely to have persistent negative feelings about yourself and your abilities, even if you have the necessary skills.

Your confidence also will influence your professional career in ways you may not realize. For example, take how you shake hands. A light handshake can indicate your lack of confidence, while a handshake that’s too firm can indicate arrogance, and either will send a strong message to the other person. So have faith in yourself and go for a shake that’s firm but kind.

When you’re confident, you’ll also have a firmer posture, which is good for your bones and joints, and it also will give others the idea that you are someone they can trust. Think about how you carry and present yourself. Make tweaks, and you can feel better when you go to work each day.

Soft skills make a difference

Focusing on soft skills that can’t easily be taught in school—like time management and work ethic—is another way to find business success.

A great soft skill to have is the ability to solve problems. If you can think analytically about a situation and find a resolution that can help the company succeed, then you’ll become incredibly valuable. One way to get better at problem-solving is to understand and visualize the real problem, brainstorm various solutions, and identify and try the one that seems the best fit.

Finally, the ability to communicate properly is another vital soft skill. Properly expressing your concerns and offering well-thought-out responses will go a long way in any business.

Avoiding burnout is essential

While going above-and-beyond for your employer will put you in a good light, you mustn’t push yourself so far that you become burned out. The effects of burnout can be varied and include physical signs like headaches and fatigue, but it also can lead to errors in your work and reduced productivity.

If you constantly feel tired, you’re losing focus, or you don’t feel like going to work anymore, you may be feeling the effects of burnout. You need to do something about it to maintain your happiness, positive mental health and career trajectory.

Regardless of your industry, there are many other ways to mitigate burnout. One is to identify inefficient workflows that are causing you to work on tasks longer than necessary. If you feel you’re completing repetitive tasks that could be done differently, bring it up to management.

Also, create a work-life balance by telling your boss when your day ends and stick to it. When you’re at work, take your lunch and breaks so you can refresh mentally.


Many factors go into a successful career. In addition to your schooling, be aware of how you feel, how you present yourself, and what you bring to the workforce, and you can have a bright future.

Katie Brenneman

Katie Brenneman is a passionate writer specializing in lifestyle, mental health, education, and fitness-related content. When she isn't writing, you can find her with her nose buried in a book or hiking with her dog, Charlie. To connect with Katie, you can follow her on Twitter.

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