As the job market has drastically changed over the last month, many individuals are considering career changes – whether temporary or permanent – to support themselves.
Although it may seem challenging to start anew, there’s a good chance that you’re actually more qualified than you think.
Transferable skills, also known as core competencies, are skills that you’ve already acquired from previous experiences that are useful in a different career, industry or work environment.
You may have gained these skills through:
- work experiences,
- academic experiences,
- volunteer work,
- and even hobbies,
- community organisations, or
- political organising, to name a few.
This is not unique to the economic downturn – when LinkedIn released its 2020 Emerging Job Report for Australia, many of the new roles listed were ones that didn’t exist five years ago.
These new roles may have been hybrids of two existing roles or a new role entirely, which is why it’s imperative for workers to be able to adopt these new skill sets and be able to clearly communicate how they’re transferable.
We’ve also seen how the career ladder has changed from individuals climbing the corporate rungs to – as Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg calls it – a career jungle gym, where moving sideways may give you more opportunities to move up in your career.
In any case, transferable skills are the building blocks of any role.
So, where do you start?
How to identify transferable skills
Before you start listing what skills may be useful in another role or industry, start by researching what actually is important in that role or industry.
For a new role
Look at job descriptions for the roles you’re interested in to see what skills are required and desired by employers. This may be on job boards, LinkedIn or government websites; and may include speaking to friends and family with that particular career to learn what their daily responsibilities include.
However, it’s also important to note that required skills also have another important factor in determining transferable skills – industry.
For a new industry
Whether you’re planning to continue with the same role in a different industry or a new job in a new industry entirely, it’s important to understand what’s happening in that space.
Start by researching for news, technology, laws or policies that may be currently impacting that particular industry.
Once you have a base knowledge of what to expect, reach out to people you know or to your LinkedIn network to conduct informational interviews with people who work in that industry to learn more. They may also give you an idea as to what skills of yours may be transferable and valued by employers.
Furthermore, seek out volunteer work, continuing education courses or attend virtual industry events to meet new contacts and potentially gain firsthand experience in the industry. This will help you remain competitive despite not having industry experience, as employers are much more likely to take a chance on someone who has proactively taken steps to gain experience.
Now that we’ve outlined how to determine these transferable skills, you’ll notice that many of them fall under the following categories:
- People skills
- Organisational skills
- Informational & Analytical skills
To ensure your future employer is clear on what skills you bring to the table, here are some examples as to what specific transferable skills you have:
Although your role may not require you to speak with customers or give presentations, it’s rare to find a position that doesn’t require communication. Although there are different mediums, it comes down to what you say and how you say it.
Employers often look for people who can communicate effectively and objectively, whether that’s within the business or outside the organization.
- Active Listening: A conversation requires two people – otherwise, it’s a lecture. Listen to what’s being communicated to you, and ensure you’re asking relevant follow-up questions when you require additional clarification. Active listening also includes interpreting, understanding and following through on what others are saying and asking of you.
- Writing: You don’t need to be an author to have written skills. This involves any interaction that involves putting pen to paper or words on a screen, such as emails, reports, forms, letters, sales materials, articles.
- In-person: Communicating face-to-face with colleagues at all levels, including interviewing, persuading, negotiating, expressing ideas, facilitating meetings, public speaking, and leading discussions. This includes tone.
- Technology: Evaluating the protocols, strengths and weaknesses of alternative communication media; and choosing the medium appropriate to your audience and message. (e.g. Social media vs email campaign, email vs phone call, etc.)
Unfortunately, just because you are an effective communicator does not mean you have people skills. Although communication helps you facilitate people skills, this skill set helps you interact and get along with colleagues, customers, clients and stakeholders.
People skills are invaluable to many organisations, as it helps foster a dynamic environment and improves company culture and performance.
- Collaboration: Working well with others and effectively contributing to projects or tasks is imperative in any workplace environment.
- Empathy: Understanding or relating to another person.
- Patience: The ability to persevere through trying, repetitive or delayed situations, processes or decisions.
- Flexibility: Willingness to change your roadmap when needed.
- Friendly: Nobody likes to work with a Negative Nelly or someone with a mean streak. During the interview process, be nice to everyone you meet – they may have influence over whether or not you get the job; and once you land a role, continue to be nice toward your colleagues and external contacts to ensure your friendly reputation precedes you.
- Trustworthy: Staying true to your word and being honest.
- Emotional intelligence: It may be a buzzword, but being able to read and respond to different types of personalities is key to building relationships.
- Sales/Marketing: Influencing people’s behaviour to market/sell a product or service.
- Teamwork: The ability to work with other people – who may come from different backgrounds, responsibilities, expertise and objectives – productively and respectfully without putting yourself above the goal of the project.
Although you may not have held a management position, you still may have been responsible for motivating others or decision making. This is imperative in any group work setting or project management skillset.
- Prioritisation: Understanding what tasks need to be done first, and ordering tasks according to need.
- Delegation: Assigning tasks to individuals who can best undertake them.
- Critical thinking/problem solving: Taking problems, analysing them, coming up with solutions and execution strategies.
- Project Management: Planning projects, risk assessment, resource allocation, and executing the project to plan.
- Coaching, mentoring and feedback: Supporting and encouraging people to achieve their goals, work through roadblocks, and providing feedback and information relevant to their performance in a timely manner.
The ‘Plan, Do, Review’ cycle encompasses the key organisational skills to managing yourself, your team, tasks and projects.
- Time management: Being busy isn’t synonymous with being productive. By organising and planning how to divide your time between specific tasks enables you to work smarter, not harder. This is particularly useful in fast-paced workplaces.
- Administrative: Filing, paperwork, communications (via phone or email), and managing calendars and appointments.
- Financial Management: Developing and managing budgets, keeping financial records and fundraising.
- Planning: Managing yourself, others and resources with a goal in mind; and planning projects, events, or business strategy.
Informational & Analytical Skills
As data and analytics become more integrated across different industries, having the ability to dissect and interpret these numbers is crucial to problem-solving and decision making within the business – particularly as most businesses generate revenue by offering solutions to their clients.
- Research & analytics: Researching and collecting data, analysing data, reporting your finds and making recommendations/solutions based on the dataset.
- Data analysis: The ability to take complex datasets to present them in an understandable manner and to evaluate the information against industry standards.
- Data visualisation: The ability to take complex datasets and create visual graphics to clarify and simplify the gathered information.
- Technology / digital literacy: The ability to quickly use and adapt to new technology, programs, systems or tools. This is imperative as our world becomes increasingly innovative and reliant on technology.
How to use your transferable skills
Now that you’ve identified what your transferable skills are, it’s time to put them to use in your CV and LinkedIn profiles.
This does not mean listing them.
Take this opportunity to show exactly how you helped your former employers move closer to their business goals. If you have numbers to back up your statements – even better.
It’s a lot stronger to say: ‘I created and implemented a new sales training program, which increased revenue by 25 per cent over two quarters’; rather than saying: ‘I improved sales numbers.’
For more tips on how to write a CV that will stand out to future employers, check out our recruitment consultants’ tips here.
Similarly, to help show off your soft skills that may be more difficult to quantify in a CV, request recommendations on your LinkedIn profile from people who have worked with you or referrals from contacts who have worked with you previously.
When you have other people vouch for you, it’s demonstrating that others are willing to risk their professional reputation to attest for your skills.
For more tips on how to attract employers to your LinkedIn profile, click here.
Finally, be sure to tailor your CV and LinkedIn profiles to your desired industry by getting rid of any buzzwords relevant to the previous industry you worked in. This will help your prospective employer to better envision you working in the new industry. You should also continue to use this language through the job interview process and into your new role.
For instance, if you work in real estate sales and enjoyed the sales-side of the work but wanted to switch industries, use sales language as opposed to real estate jargon in your CV and LinkedIn profiles to appeal to hiring managers in other industries.
Now that you understand how to identify and use your transferable skills to help you land a new role or move to a new industry, it’s time to start putting your updated CV and LinkedIn profile together!
We are still hiring across a number of industries in the Technology, Business Support, Sales & Marketing, Blue Collar, and Accounting & Finance spaces, so be sure to check out our job board to apply for some of Australia’s top companies using your new resume.
We look forward to your application!