Office Hours: Refreshing These Skills May Be the Secret to Advancing Your Career

Woman in the Workplace

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Welcome to Office Hours. We're so glad you dropped by. This new column is an initiative of The Fine Line and Fairygodboss created to address the career questions of women 40 and older. The Fine Line is a lifestyle publication that provides cutting-edge guidance and practical resources for women who are redefining what it means to grow older.
Each month, a Fairygodboss expert will answer a question from one of our readers. If you have a question about finding a job, starting a new career, or an issue in the workplace, please write us at [email protected].

Q: What are some good resources for refreshing my office skills?

A: So you’ve been out of the working world for some time and you don’t quite remember what it’s like to be in an office all day every day. Maybe you took a maternity leave or maybe you’ve decided to change careers for some time. Whatever the case, you’ll probably need to refresh your office skills.
It’s important to keep your finger on the pulse of job skills that are pretty much always relevant and those that are becoming even more relevant. This way you always know what you’re doing and what you’re getting yourself into. 
Whether you’re just starting out in the job market or you’re jumping back into it, Payscale has found that certain skills are highly valued by hiring managers across the board. They’re also in demand, as they don’t seem to be too prevalent among recent grads: writing, public speaking, data analysis (Excel, Tableau, Python, R, etc.), Industry-specific software (Salesforce, CAD, Quickbooks, etc.) and mathematics. You’ll want to demonstrate your proficiency in those needed job skills, both by naming them on your resume and by talking about them via your experiences.
Likewise, transferable skills like communication, leadership, team work, initiative and listening are always appreciated by employers, as they are plug-and-play across companies, industries, sectors, agencies and job positions. You’ll want to make sure these are also on your resume and exemplified in the experiences you share in you cover letter as well as in your interviews.
But what if you once had those office skills companies are always looking for but you need some help refreshing them? There are resources out there that can help you brush up on your office skills.
You may want to consider volunteering, for example, to work on your team work and initiative skills. You can check out sources like Volunteer International, the International Volunteer HQ and UN Volunteers to help you find opportunities. For your communication and listening skills, you can check out Podcasts like The Power of Active Listening or books like How to Talk to Anyone: 92 Little Tricks for Big Success in Relationships and Thanks for the Feedback: The Science and Art of Receiving Feedback Well. As for brushing up on your leadership skills, check out our list of books to help you rise above middle management from The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey to You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life by Jen Sincero and The 5 Second Rule: Transform your Life, Work, and Confidence with Everyday Courage by Mel Robbins.
When it comes to data analysis, you’ll have to determine what skills are applicable in your industry. Once you understand what skills your job needs (whether it’s CAD or Final Cut Pro or something else entirely), then you should spend your free time practicing using those platforms. You may even want to spend a few hours watching YouTube tutorials on how to use them and advance your level of proficiency in them.
Brushing up on your office skills may be as easy as listening to a podcast, picking up a book or binge-watching YouTube videos.