What are conceptual skills?

If you apply for a high-level job, you will see that a question is coming your way almost everywhere. Which is:

“What are your core conceptual skills?”

And these might throw you off a bit since these skills are not mentioned in the job description.

However, conceptual skills are essential! They help you understand how every part of an organization works together to achieve its goal.

Often the conceptual skills require you to have abstract thinking and creativity.

Let’s look at the true definition of conceptual skills and use them to get better opportunities.

Here’s what we will learn from this blog:

Conceptual Skills Definition

By definition, conceptual skills are skills that allow employees to understand a complex concept and brainstorm creative solutions for it. These skills are valuable because they allow management or leadership employees to find innovative solutions to challenging problems.

No matter which industry you operate in, your organization is bound to get into some complex problems. And a leader with conceptual skills can analyze and understand the issues and create an action-driven solution path for the problems.

In a leadership position, tackling a complex problem with an abstract and creative approach is a valuable skill. So, you need to develop conceptual skills if you want to progress in your career and get into a leadership position.

Also Read: What skills you should put on your resume in 2022?

What are the Differences Between Conceptual Skills, Human Skills, and Technical Skills?

The idea of conceptual skills comes from Robert Katz, a psychologist from 1974, who categorized skills into three parts.

  • Conceptual Skills
  • Human Skills
  • Technical Skills

Conceptual Skills

Conceptual skill is categorized as seeing the organization’s functions from a bird’s eye view and understanding how different parts interact and work together to achieve a goal.

Conceptual skills also allow management to identify problems in the systems and develop practical solutions to improve operational efficiency. Conceptual skills are essential for higher management candidates, where strategic planning is required.

Human Skills

Human skills refer to skills required to interact with other human beings.

These are soft skills such as communication, team-building skills, organization skills, empathy, etc.

These skills consist of an individual’s ability to interpret human behavior and understand their point of view before taking action.

Having human skills is extremely important for managers since they are more employee-friendly. A manager without human skills may use an authoritarian leadership style, which may not sit well with all employees.

Technical Skills

These are hard specialized skills that help a professional do their job effectively. These skills are programming knowledge, designing, Microsoft office, data visualizations, market research, etc.

These skills are essential because they will help the managers do their other tasks more efficiently and with accuracy.

Also Read: What are some essential soft skills you need to advance in your career?

What Is Conceptual Skills in Management?

There are multiple conceptual skills required for a management position. Here is the most common type of conceptual skills that employers look from the employees:

Analytical Skills

Analytical skills are necessary to successfully break down a complex problem into minor actionable problems and determine how these are related to developing an efficient solution accordingly.

  • Analytical skills include some small sub-skills such as:
  • Research skills
  • Critical thinking skills
  • Information analysis
  • Creativity
  • Data analysis
  • Brainstorming
  • Business analysis
  • Deductive reasoning

Also read: How to make the most of your analytical skills?

Creative Thinking Skills

Analyzing a problem and coming up with abstract and creative solutions is a very underrated skill at a low level. But these are extremely important in a management position.

It allows you to view a problem from a different perspective and enable you to not settle for the most obvious solutions. Good creative thinking also requires a sub-set of skills which are:

  • Collaboration
  • Restructuring skills
  • Strategic planning
  • Optimization
  • Predictive modeling
  • Integration
  • Abstractive thinking
  • Innovation
  • Open-mindedness
  • Idea formulation

Communication Skills

Communication is essential even if you are not in a managerial position. If you have excellent communication skills, it will help you explain complex problems or concepts to others in an easy-to-understand way.

However, communication skill also requires a set of sub-skills, which are:

  • Active listening
  • Implementing thinking
  • Verbal communication
  • Nonverbal communication
  • Written communication
  • Presentation skills
  • Interrelational skills
  • Asking questions

Also read: How to display your communication skills on resume?

Problem-Solving Skills

Once the problem is analyzed, you need to identify the most effective and efficient way to solve a problem. And if you are good at solving problems, it will be easier to get ahead in your career and transition into a leadership position.

Problem-solving skills include:

  • Logical thinking
  • Multitasking skills
  • Critical thinking skills
  • Decision-making skills
  • Troubleshooting
  • Solution execution
  • Prioritization
  • Dependability

Also read: How to display your problem solving skills on resume?

Conceptual Leadership Skills

Leadership skills are also critical with conceptual skills. Because if you have an idea or a vision to solve a problem, you need to persuade others to believe in your vision and work with you. And a strong conceptual leadership skills will help you do that.

Here are some adjacent skills for a strong leadership skill:

  • Management
  • Delegation
  • Stability
  • Team-building skills
  • Motivation
  • Persuasion
  • Negotiation
  • Empathy
  • Flexibility
  • Integrity/honesty

Why Are Conceptual Skills Important to Top Management?

Conceptual skills are essential for high-level management because they are in the leadership position responsible for overseeing the entire operation of a company; they develop company goals, vision, mission, prepare strategies for growth, and directly impact the company decisions.

Also Read: How to craft a professional manager resume in 2022?

What Are Different Types of Conceptual Skills Examples?

Here is some example of conceptual skills you can add to your resume:

  • Abstract thinking
  • Analytical skills
  • Cognitive skills
  • Communication
  • Contextualizing
  • Creative thinking
  • Critical thinking
  • Decision making
  • Action planning
  • Innovation
  • Leadership skills
  • Logical thinking
  • Management skills
  • Motivating
  • Organizational skills
  • Presenting
  • Problem-solving
  • Data mining
  • Strategic planning

Further, you can learn about resume key skills to understand how to include skills on reusme!

Also, conceptual skills are essential for managers and C-suite executives. But not every manager is essentially a leader.

Leaders want to provide other employees with opportunities to grow and become better at their tasks.

But managers may not necessarily possess the same skills as a Leader does.

In a nutshell, All managers are not leaders. It takes many interpersonal and leadership skills to become a leader.

How to Improve Conceptual Skills?

Conceptual skills are not something inherited. You can develop conceptual skills with focus and practice.

Here are some steps to learn conceptual skills:

  • Observe Leadership
  • Seek Mentorship
  • Expose Yourself to Challenges
  • Learn New Practices
  • Stay Updated with Industry
  • Join discussions
  • Learn outside of your job
  • Learn about the Organization

1. Observe Leadership

Leaders are the ones who use conceptual skills daily. If you can observe them closely, how they make decisions, break down complex problems, and find the easiest solutions, you can learn immensely about leadership.

2. Seek Mentorship

The best way to learn a skill is to get help from industry experts. If you can find someone who is willing to guide you to develop the skills yourself. Or you can observe them closely and understand how they use conceptual thinking to solve problems.

3. Expose Yourself to Challenges

If you face a challenge in your workplace, you should take it as an opportunity to learn conceptual skills instead of shying away from it. Start by thinking about how a leader will handle this problem. Find past challenges, and identify how you solved that problem, what worked and what doesn’t.

4. Learn New Practices

Learn new methodologies and practices, and try to implement those practices in your job, and see which methods give you the maximum result! You can create a case study and reflect on the results to improve your processes.

5. Stay Updated With Industry

Knowledge is power. Unless you know the industry, you won’t make informed decisions. Learn about innovations in the industry, new products, processes, business models to improve your operational efficiency. Try out a bunch of them into your process and see what works and what doesn’t. It will help you learn conceptual skills.

6. Join Discussions

One of the best ways to develop conceptual skills is to discuss systems and processes with colleagues. Ask them what actions they think can improve the overall operations. This way, you will have many ideas to work with, and you can implement these processes into your workflow and see which gives them maximum output.

7. Learn Outside of Your Job

Conceptual skills do not develop in the same routine. It requires creativity and abstract thinking. For that, you can learn outside our job, have side-projects, observe other organizations, and see how they are handling challenges. It will help you develop your conceptual skills.

8. Be Mindful

Mindfulness is a state of awareness about your present. With mindfulness, you’ll be able to concentrate on tasks fully without worrying about judgments.

With that, you’ll be able to come up with uniques solutions for problems.

9. Start Negotiating

As a leader or when you’re operating a business, you need to negotiate well with customers, vendors, employees, everyone.

So, start practicing that from now. As your negotiation skill increases, so will increase your conceptual skills.

It’s because, instead of quitting a deal, you’ll try to come up with new offers, or deals that will better suit the client and you.

10. Start Breaking Down Tasks

Every task seems complex at first. But if you learn how to break down a task into smaller components, then it becomes easier to tackle and complete. You can also delegate smaller tasks to other people easily.

It also improves your conceptual skills.

11. Think Abstractly

If you learn how to think abstractly, you’ll be able to see the big picture and identify creative ways to solve a problem.

It will also help you improve your conceptual skills.

12. Read Books

It is proven that reading also improves conceptual skills.

It stimulates your brain and helps you think of multiple ways to solve a problem instead of just one.

It also helps you become creative.

13. Keep a Positive Mindset

Keeping a positive mindset is the key to creativity and improving your conceptual thinking.

Negative thoughts bring stress and hamper your ability to think creatively.

Ward off these negative thoughts, and bring positivity to your workplace. And your conceptual skills will improve with it.

How to Use Conceptual Skills at the Workplace?

Conceptual skills are not only for the CEOs and managers. Anyone can improve conceptual skills and increase their productivity. Here’s some way to use conceptual skills in your workplace:

Communication With Colleagues

Communication is important if you want to convey your ideas and solutions to your team members. Focus on acquiring good speaking skills, learn active listening to become better at Communication.

Identify & Solve a Problem in Workplace

This is one of the best ways to deploy conceptual skills in your workplace. Identify a problem you can see in the workplace, research the issue, talk to your colleagues, and try to find a solution that aligns with the company’s mission and goals.

You may fail, but you will start developing conceptual thinking skills. And, if you find a solution, then you can present your solution to stakeholders and may create meaningful solutions.

Think Abstractly

Abstract thinking is key to conceptual skills. You can challenge yourself to think creatively and explore different solutions to a problem.

The ability to break down a large project into smaller pieces is essential to practice conceptual skills. Break down large tasks into smaller projects and solve one at a time so that it’s easier to complete.

Volunteer for Projects

Always find opportunities where you have to work with cross-functional teams. This way, you will get a broad perspective of systematically solving a problem by collaborating with people with different skillsets and perspectives.

Also Read: How to highlight project information on resume in 2022?

How to Highlight Conceptual Skills in Job Applications

At this point, you have all information related to conceptual skills. Now, it’s time to talk about how to showcase these skills in your job application documents.

A resume and cover letter are the primary touch-point between a job seeker and an employer.

When you create a resume and cover letter, make sure to highlight the conceptual skills in your achievements. By showing your achievements, you can highlight how your conceptual skills is positively impacted the company output.

The best way to highlight conceptual skills in a resume/cover letter is by utilizing the following power verbs:

  • Developed
  • Devised
  • Identified
  • Led
  • Set up
  • Spearheaded
  • Managed

The achievements you show with these involve conceptual thinking.

However, if you have a lot of conceptual skills to show, how do you prioritize?

Then you need to identify the conceptual skill that is relevant to the hiring manager and showcase only those skills on the resume.

Once you pass the initial sorting and go on the job interview, use this tailoring method to give relevant answers to the interviewer highlighting your conceptual skills.

For behavioral rounds, you can use the STAR method to give your answers. This way interviewers will also have a clear picture of your experience and skills.

Also Read: How to write a professional experience section in resume?

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Q1: Conceptual, human, and technical skills are essential to which managerial level?

Ans: Conceptual, human, and technical skills are most relevant to C-suite or upper-level management employees who are the top decision-makers. That’s why conceptual skills are considered high-value skills.

  • Q2: Why are conceptual skills important to top management?

Ans: Top management’s conceptual skills are critical because they are directly involved in decision-making. The management’s job is to develop strategies and methods to accelerate growth. And It’s their conceptual thinking ability that allows them to think effectively.

Key Takeaways

  • Conceptual skills are not something you can add in the skills section of your resume, But your experience should reflect conceptual thinking in your resume
  • It involves the ability to understand a problem, break it down into smaller pieces, and come out with creative solutions
  • Conceptual skills are valued in any organization since they decide the entire direction of an organization’s operations
  • If you are applying for a job in a management position, conceptual skills are an essential part of your Resume.

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