There are a number of things that you can do to give your career a head start. Here are a few skills to learn that can put you one step ahead of the competition.

1. Resume Building

You never get a second chance at a first impression, or so the old saying goes. When it comes to applying for a new job, your resume is the first thing that a potential employer sees even before they meet you or shake your hand. The ability to write a professional resume is one skill that will serve you for the rest of your life. In addition to the resume, you could consider writing a customizable cover letter template.

You wouldn’t want to apply for a job in a hospital with a cover letter you had written to apply for a job as a butcher. It doesn’t make the kind of impression that most employers are looking for. It isn’t hard to learn to write a professional resume, and once you do, it will be a skill that will serve you for the rest of your life.

2. Typing

Touch typing is one of the most important skills that you can learn. The average adult types at around 40 words per minute. Most jobs that require computer skills require employees to be able to type at a minimum of 60 words per minute. It can take a while to learn, but learning to properly touch type can increase your speed and efficiency.

A hunt and peck typist, typing 20 words per minute, will take 1 hour to type 1200 words, not including any time taken for fixing typos or breaks. A proper touch typist, typing 60 words per minute, can complete 3600 words in the same amount of time. This is one skill that you should start learning while you’re still in school, because it is one that you will use throughout school, college, and into your work career.

3. Microsoft Office

This programming suite is made up of some of the most commonly used programs in the industry. Having even a basic working knowledge of Word, Excel, and PowerPoint can mean the difference between landing a job and being left in the unemployment line. Many job listings will name specific programs that are a requirement for the job and these three are generally required for any career where you will be working with a computer.

4. Organizational skills

This isn’t just limited to how you keep your office supplies, though no one wants to be that guy at the office whose desk looks like it was hit by a bomb. Organizational skills extends to things like the ability to organize multi step projects, or handle teams of people who are all working on different parts of the same goal. This is a great skill to learn because it also helps you in your personal life. It makes it easier for you to manage your time, organize your goals, and keep your life in a general sort of order.

5. Leadership skills

This is one skill set that you cannot afford to pass up, especially if you want to progress in your chosen field. The ability to lead other people is not one that is easily acquired for those who don’t naturally posses it. It can be difficult for people who would rather be a friend than a leader. For anyone who wants to progress past entry level in their chosen field, leadership skills are a must.

Once you rise above a certain point, you are going to be expected to direct and supervise the people who are working below you. This requires a delicate balance, because you don’t want your subordinates taking advantage of you, but you also don’t want to come off like an overbearing tyrant. Some people are born to leadership; others have to fight to become leaders. Whatever the case, this is one of the most important skills to learn to give your career a head start.

This is just a sampling of skills that you should learn to give your career a head start, but most of these are skills that are constantly taken for granted. Just because you think you can get away with your 20 word per minute hunt and peck typing style doesn’t mean that it’s going to get you anywhere in life.

Adam Fort is an educator and touch typing enthusiast. His goal is to share knowledge about 21th century skills among kids and teachers.