5 Skills to Build When Re-entering the Workforce

Are you over 50 and re-entering the workforce? Whether stepping out of the workplace was planned or unplanned, getting back to work can be challenging. You may be wondering what skills you need to be competitive in today’s job market.

By preparing yourself and strengthening your skillset, you can find the job you want.

But, what are the skills you should focus your time and energy on improving? Below, we take a look at five skills to build when re-entering the workforce.

Skills to help you re-enter the workforce

Job searching after an absence from the workforce can be intimidating. The more prepared you feel for your next career, the more confident you will be on interviews with employers.

Make sure you work on these skills to help you succeed in your job search.


You may not make it very far in your new job if you don’t know how to communicate well with others. Good communication skills help you avoid conflicts, work efficiently, and contribute to a more enjoyable work environment.

Communication skills include how you speak and write, both in person and digitally. Demonstrate good communication by actively listening, asking questions, and remembering the names of people you meet.

Employers may ask you to describe a time when you needed to communicate effectively. Be prepared to provide an answer that demonstrates how your communication skills can be a valuable attribute to the role you are interviewing for.

Time management

No matter what industry you want to work in, you will most likely need to be able to meet deadlines and work efficiently. Time management is a valuable skill for job searching and once you start your new role.

Make it a habit to be on time – especially when it comes to arriving at an interview. Show employers that you can manage time well by talking about situations when you had to juggle competing priorities. Create a system for managing time and be able to talk about it with hiring professionals.

Digital literacy

Now more than ever, it’s important to have at least basic technology skills when re-entering the workforce. Luckily, there are a lot of free resources out there to help you out, including Lynda.com and your local library.

As you think about getting back into the workforce, get comfortable with computers. Be sure you can research topics online, use email effectively, and type proficiently.

Microsoft Office Suite, which includes Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, is a valuable tool to learn. Depending on the job you want, you may also need to learn industry-related software.

Develop your digital literacy by taking free courses and practicing on the computer. Don’t be afraid to ask for help from a friend, family member, or professional. When interviewing, express your willingness to continue growing your skills in technology.

Customer service

Customer service skills help you address the needs of – you guessed it – customers of the business you work for. It’s important to practice good customer service to foster a positive experience and keep customers satisfied.

In addition to communication, customer service skills include empathy toward frustrated customers, patience with different personalities, and the ability to solve problems.

Learning proper phone and email etiquette will greatly improve your customer service. Be able to give employers specific examples of times you used your customer service skills in a workplace setting.

Industry-specific skills

Certain jobs may require you to have industry-recognized certifications or skills to be successful. For example, to be a phlebotomist, you need to know how to draw blood and hold a license.

Research on what specific skills you need for the job you want. Talk to people who are already working in that kind of position to gain insight into the best ways to grow your skillset. You could also volunteer in a related role to sharpen your skills.

Improving your skills for today’s workforce

Re-entering the workforce can be intimidating, but you don’t have to do it alone. Make sure you have a support system to guide you through challenges and root you on during victories. Some programs are available for those who are re-entering the workforce and can provide you with the tools you need to succeed.

If you are 55 years or older and live in one of the 38 Ohio counties we serve, you may be eligible for the Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP). VANTAGE Workforce Solutions provides paid, hands-on training and opportunities to earn industry-recognized certifications to adults re-entering the workforce.

Check to see if you are eligible for the program to launch your next career by visiting us online, sending us a message, or calling us at 1-800-762-5335.

*The information in this article is intended solely to provide general information on matters of interest for the personal use of the reader, who accepts full responsibility for its use. This article should not be used as a substitute for consultation with professional legal, medical, or other competent advisors.

This workforce product was funded by a grant awarded by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration. The product was created by the recipient and does not necessarily reflect the official position of the U.S. Department of Labor. The Department of Labor makes no guarantees, warranties, or assurances of any kind, express or implied, with respect to such information, including any information on linked sites and including, but not limited to, accuracy of the information or its completeness, timeliness, usefulness, adequacy, continued availability, or ownership. This product is copyrighted by the institution that created it.

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