Soft skills are the less tangible and measurable qualities we bring to a job. Employers are starting to look at them more often as they consider candidates. If you’re over 50, you may think it’s too late to start working on new qualities to bring to the table. Not so! There are things you can do in your spare time that will show an employer you have a solid set of soft skills. Here are a few ideas.
Take on more leadership roles. If you’re busy with work and family, taking on more responsibility may be the last thing you want to do. So, instead of getting more involved at work, consider something that is perhaps less stressful like heading your child’s cookie drive or even being part of a board for a charity that is important to you. The communication skills you gain by being in charge will create great stories you can share in interviews or when being considered for a promotion.
Join a public speaking group. Don’t they say that public speaking is a fear worse than dying for most people? Seems kind of extreme, but if that’s the case, you’ll excel past any age group if you’re more comfortable with public speaking. An easy way to get your feet wet is to join a club like Toastmasters where they are accustomed to growing someone’s comfortability with presenting to a group. You don’t have to present to hundreds of people—just getting comfortable in front of your department may put you ahead of your peers.
Do something artistic. Nothing fosters your creativity (another soft skill) like growing your artistic interests. Think about where you have the most passion. Is it writing? Painting? Theatre? Pick an area and take a class either in person or online. Your creativity is bound to ignite as you join others with the same interests. For example, an improv class would be a great opportunity for you to be creative with your words and to think on your feet—two qualities any employer would love.
The job search can be difficult in today’s market. People from all age groups are always looking for jobs, and you may feel if you’re over 50, you don’t have a chance against your younger competition. But, employers are fans of soft skills nowadays, and there are certainly easy ways you can expand your soft skills by doing things that are fun and not overly stressful. Join a group, take on a leadership role and start expanding the stories you can tell a potential employer.
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