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Transferable skills: What you need to know

Thinking of a career move into a new sector but nervous you don’t have what it takes?

It’s time to think laterally about your transferable skills.

These are core abilities that go beyond one role, organisation or sector. They go beyond a particular job also. Indeed these are non-technical skills you can transfer to almost any role.

The challenge

The challenge for many jobseekers is to pinpoint these skills and make the most of them when applying for work in new domains.

Expert recruiters can certainly help. Our recruiters are experienced at identifying transferable skills and advising on how to highlight them in your resume, in your online profile (such as LinkedIn) and during interviews.

This expert article focuses on transferable skills and presents ideas on how to work with them.

Examples of transferable skills

As recruiters we recommend categorising your transferable skills. Popular categories are leadership, organisational, communication, people and technology skills.

Quick examples of transferable skills by category:

Leadership  –  delegate, problem solve, think critically, mentor, coach and provide feedback.

Organisational – research, planning, analysis, time management, administration.

Communication – writing, negotiating, collaborating, active listening.

People – co-operation, flexibility, empathy, motivation.

Technology – digital competencies, software knowledge.

While this isn’t a complete list of categories or transferable skills, it’s a good starting point for stimulating your thinking.

How do I assess my transferable skills?

An expert recruiter will help you explore your transferable skills and determine creative ways on how to leverage them.

If you’re working solo then self-analyse, categorise and cross-check with your chosen career move. A little self-reflection will go a long way.

This can be frustrating at first but stick with it and you’ll be surprised at how talented you are.

How do I cross-check with my chosen career move?

Research is your first step.

Pick several companies you might like to work for and trawl through their websites to identify their core business and culture. List keywords they use.

Also, head to job sites and explore the details of specific job descriptions. With government, for example, you’ll often find these details in easy-to-identify bullet points, broken down by topics like:

  • details on the overall role
  • responsibilities of the role
  • key skills required
  • experience required
  • desirable skills required.

This will enable you to map the skills you can transfer.

How do I think creatively about my transferable skills?

Think creatively when mapping and cross-checking. Reflect on your work experience, including your strengths, successes and the personality traits you’re known and respected for.

If you have great people skills, for example, you may be able to transfer these from being in a technical trade to a customer service role.

If you have sharp time management skills and a detailed office administrator, you may be able to transfer these skills to a project management role.

Another example relates to research. You may have these skills in your current position as a university lecturer but could easily transfer this talent into a government analytical role.

Where do I sell my transferable skills?

You’ll want to sell your transferable skills in multiple ways, including in your:

  • resume
  • cover letter
  • one-page pitch
  • online presence
  • job applications
  • preparation for interviews.

Be sure to give concrete examples and draw connections to the job you’re applying for. You can even mirror specific words so what you present aligns with what the employer is using to advertise for roles.

Transferable skills in action: Meet Bob

Bob has years of experience in business development and sales. He wants to become a project manager in government. Bob, however, isn’t convinced he has what it takes to apply because he’s never worn the exact title ‘Project Manager’ and has never worked in the public sector.

Bob sits with his face2face recruiter, and they work through the skills he can transfer. Bob is pleasantly surprised at how many skills he has that directly relate to a project management role. The list includes:

  • planning
  • detailed implementation
  • time management
  • scheduling
  • tracking progress
  • managing budgets
  • organising teams to reach goals
  • using project management software.

Final tips

  • While it’s critical to highlight transferable skills, don’t forget your education and hard skills when working on a new career move. They are still super important.
  • Dig deep when assessing your skills and personality traits. You’ll find it a rich and rewarding experience.
  • Don’t remain frustrated if you’re not getting anywhere. Register with us and we’ll chat about your story, your aims and aspirations, and your transferable skills.

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