Your Least Appreciated Skills May Be Your Most Powerful Assets

Your Least Appreciated Skills May Be Your Most Powerful Assets

Your Least Appreciated Skills May Be Your Most Powerful Assets

Bias against job seekers over 55 is a real thing. According to the AARP, in 2018 about three in five older workers experienced workplace age discrimination. But more and more, employers are coming to a realization about age bias — it’s bad business.

It’s bad business partly because many beliefs about this enormous group are simply not true. What's true is that older workers provide greater returns on investment, not least because they readily adapt their knowledge and experience to new situations and help younger workers become more effective.

There’s another reason why age bias is bad business. It’s one that undervalues some crucial skills particularly common among experienced workers — soft skills. This bias may be working against you, not just because of potential employers, but because of you.

Soft Skills Are Power Skills

You may be under-appreciating one of your strongest assets: your soft skills. Many people think that the most important skills they have are the ones that helped them specialize, that require special knowledge about complex matters. These are often the skills that seemed to advance them in their careers — their so-called hard skills.

The fact is that businesses rating higher on soft skills and lower on hard skills perform better than companies that rate lower on soft skills — even if those companies are stronger on hard skills. This realization caused Google to revolutionize its hiring practices, and many other highly competitive companies consciously pursue workers with strong soft skills.

It’s easy to take our soft skills for granted. They’re very much a part of us, of who we are. But it’s important to take these skills seriously when making a career change. These are your most portable skills — they can be used in many different situations. And the more you can exercise them, the greater the job satisfaction you'll have, and the stronger your contribution will be.

If you’re thinking of looking for new ways to work — maybe in an entirely new field, you may be wondering how to make your skills and experience fit in new situations. Your soft skills will be your greatest help in this effort.

Develop these skills, and look for ways to use them.

Creativity — the ability to try new ways of seeing things and the willingness to make mistakes

Persuasion — the ability to communicate so as to spread conviction

Collaboration — the ability to agree on a goal and cooperate to get there

Adaptability — the ability to let go of preconceptions and let go of stress

Emotional Intelligence — the ability to read others without getting in the way

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