What Are Collaboration Skills? (Examples Included)

By Jeff Gillis

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably heard that collaboration skills are essential to your job search and career. Why do they matter so much? Because employers want employees to have them; it really is that simple.

In the words of Henry Ford, “Coming together is a beginning; staying together is progress; working together is success.” Ultimately, collaboration skills make a huge difference on the job. They help individual workers and teams succeed, ensuring everyone can get along and work together. That’s important stuff, no doubt about it.

But what are collaboration skills? How do you know if you have them? And, if yours are a bit lacking, is there anything you can do to improve?

Well, if you’re asking questions like that, you’re in luck. Come with us as we take a good, hard look at everything collaboration skills.

What Are Collaboration Skills?

Alright, let’s start with the basics. According to Merriam-Webster, “collaborate”- in the context of the workplace – means “to work jointly with others or together especially in an intellectual endeavor.” Pretty simple, right?

So, that means collaboration skills are traits and capabilities that let you work with others toward a shared goal effectively. This can include a variety of soft skills and hard skills, as many of each may be crucial to the collaboration equation. Essentially, as long as it’s an ability or characteristic that makes you great as part of a team, it can count.

How Are Collaborations Skills Relevant to a Job Search?

The biggest reason collaboration skills are relevant to a job search is simply because hiring managers want to find them in candidates. They are going to look for them when they review your cover letter and resume. Plus, they’ll probably ask you about them – either directly or indirectly – during your interview.

In some cases, collaboration skills may even be a critical part of your interview. If you’re brought in for a group interview, you might be asked to collaborate with other candidates. If you can’t do that well, you can kiss the job goodbye.

JEFF'S TIP: Why would a hiring manager put your collaboration skills to the test during group interviews? Well, they might be trying to figure out which candidates gel with each other. If they are hiring multiple employees for one team, seeing how everyone interacts and vibes could be part of their decision-making process. By collaborating like a champ, you’ll look like a stronger candidate, so hop in, be a team player, and show them you can work with anyone.

However, that doesn’t mean collaboration skills can’t be relevant to finding a job. In many cases, professionals who are considered team players make better impressions on colleagues. As a result, your traits and abilities in this area may increase your odds of receiving referrals. Cool, right? We think so.

Now, which collaboration skills are in demand in 2021. Well, communication is a big one. If you can’t share information effectively, both verbally and in writing, you’re going to have a tough time working with others, period.

Active listening is similarly crucial. Teamwork isn’t all about you; it’s about the group. If you aren’t really hearing what other people are saying, you’re not going to be great at collaboration.

Accountability is also essential. If you aren’t willing to take ownership of your mistakes and work quickly to correct them, you might hold the team back. That’s just no good.

But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. In most cases, every collaboration skill is valuable in the eyes of today’s employers. So, don’t be afraid to showcase everything you bring to the table.

How to Highlight Collaboration Skills During a Job Search

Alright, so you probably get why collaboration skills are so crazy critical. But how do you feature them during your job search? After all, you need to make sure the hiring manager knows that you bring this stuff to the table, right?

Luckily, highlighting your collaboration skills is pretty straightforward. The easiest way to go about it is to work them into your resume and cover letter by discussing accomplishments that show them off. It’s a much more compelling approach than proclaiming, “I have great collaboration skills.”

When you showcase achievements, you create a career story. You’re cultivating an engaging narrative, showing the hiring manager you have what it takes instead of forcibly telling them. With an accomplishment, you’re providing context, and that can make a huge difference.

So, how do you pick the right achievements? What about the right collaboration skills to feature? By using the best strategy!

If you really want to make your resume and cover letter relevant to the role, embrace the Tailoring Method. With the Tailoring Method, alignment is at the heart of all of your decisions. You’ll focus on skills and accomplishments that fit that one specific opportunity, creating a masterful value proposition that’s more likely to catch the hiring manager’s eye.

You can also use that technique when practicing your job interview questions and answers. That way, you can pull up a great achievement to discuss that really aligns with the position you’re trying to land.

How to Develop Collaboration Skills If You Don’t Have Them

Developing your collaboration skills can be a bit challenging. Unlike hard skills, soft skills are typically harder to teach, so there isn’t always a clear path for learning them.

Does that mean you shouldn’t try? Of course not. You just need to use the right approach.

There are techniques and mindset shifts that can be surprisingly effective. Plus, they are pretty easy to work into your typical day, allowing you to start bolstering your capabilities right away.

If you want to hone your collaboration skills and you aren’t sure how to do it, here are some options that can work.

See All Change as a Potential Positive

Often, your mindset plays a big role in how effective you are at collaboration. If you’re innately resistant to change, you’re going to rail against any projects that require you to adapt to something new. That will work against you.

Instead of resisting change, embrace it for its potential. After all, not all change is bad. In fact, some kinds of change can be pretty freaking amazing.

So, put a positive spin on change. That way, you can set any negativity aside, allowing you to move forward instead of acting like an obstacle that has to be overcome.

Hone Your Self-Awareness

When it comes to in-demand skills, self-awareness is definitely a biggie. You need to understand why you feel certain emotions, giving you the ability to control your reactions to stressors. That way, if you’re in the weeds with a team, you don’t act rashly. Instead, you can manage your own behavior, ensuring you can continue to work toward a positive outcome without lashing out.

Make Trust-Building a Priority

When it comes to cultivating functional and supportive relationships at work, trust is vital. If you don’t keep your word or follow through with your commitments, your colleagues aren’t going to have much faith in you. In the end, that harms collaboration.

If you want to improve, make trust-building a priority. Let it guide all of your decisions whenever your actions impact others. If you do, you’ll incidentally become better at collaboration.

Appreciate Diversity

In the workplace, diversity can be a key to innovation. By learning to appreciate different perspectives, you can see the unique strengths others possess.

Once you start seeing those positives, you become more effective at collaboration. You don’t overlook the value of each person’s viewpoint, allowing you to be more engaged, inclusive, supportive, and welcoming.

Get to Know the Right Tech Tools

When it comes to hard skills that boost collaboration, learning how to use certain tech tools falls in that category. Project management software and communication platforms play a big role in how groups coordinate their efforts and track progress. If you can’t use those efficiently, you aren’t helping your team thrive.

So, spend time learning how to make the most of those tech tools. Get to know the platforms, including their features and limitations. That way, you can navigate them with ease, ensuring they boost collaboration instead of hindering it.

List of Collaboration Skills

By now, you should have a good idea of what collaboration skills are, as well as how you can improve yours. But that doesn’t mean you don’t want more, right?

Hey, we get it. Sometimes, when you’re trying to prep for a job search and further your career, nothing is as helpful as some clear examples. So, with that in mind, here’s a quick list of collaboration skills that are worth honing and showcasing during your job search:

    • Critical thinking
    • Problem-solving
    • Analytical thinking
    • Written communication
    • Verbal communication
    • Active listening
    • Adaptability
    • Empathy
    • Creativity
    • Compassion
    • Respectfulness
    • Accountability
    • Trustworthiness
    • Dependability
    • Communication platforms
    • Reliability
    • Patience
    • Flexibility
    • Self-awareness
    • Research
    • Emotional intelligence
    • Tolerance
    • Open-mindedness
    • Negotiation
    • Compromise
    • Brainstorming
    • Leadership
    • Delegation
    • Project management tools
    • Agility
    • Diplomacy

Now, does that mean other skills don’t support collaboration? Of course, it doesn’t.

Nearly any skill that allows you to work better with others can, in a way, be a collaboration skill. Reflect on your abilities and traits. Identify the ones that make you an exceptional team member – all of the ones you pick out count.

Additionally, if lacking a skill is making it harder for you to work effectively as a group, make a note of it. That way, you know that you should steer some of your attention in that direction. If you improve that capability, you’re growing your collaboration skills. How awesome is that?

If you’d like to learn more about skills to put on a resume, we’ve taken a deep dive into the topic before. We go way beyond collaboration skills, allowing you to tap more critical areas that can help you shine when you are trying to land your next exciting, career-boosting role.

Putting It All Together

Ultimately, collaboration skills are a must-have for professionals in every field. By honing yours and highlighting them during your job search, you’ll be a stronger candidate and employee. And, in the end, that’s genuinely what it’s all about.

Thanks for reading!

About The Author

Jeff Gillis

Co-founder and CTO of TheInterviewGuys.com. Jeff is a featured contributor delivering advice on job search, job interviews and career advancement, having published more than 50 pieces of unique content on the site, with his work being featured in top publications such as INC, ZDnet, MSN and more. Learn more about The Interview Guys on our About Us page.