If you are looking to change careers, you may be wondering how to make the transition easier. Rest assured, you are not alone. Often, clients come to me wondering how they can set themselves up for a career transition and are unsure of how to align their experience with their new, desired role. The answer is simple: transferable skills.
What are transferable skills?
There are two types of skills that you can list on your resume: hard skills and soft skills (which are otherwise known as transferable skills).
Hard skills are technical and specific to certain industries and roles (electrical work, computer programing, accounting, etc.). While it would be difficult to transition, to say, a plumbing role without plumbing experience, there are many other roles where the technical aspects are not the focal point of the job. That’s where soft (transferable) skills come in.
Transferable skills transcend industries and roles and are valued within almost any position. Examples include operations management, project management, communication skills, customer service, project coordination, etc. So, if you lack specific technical skills, showcasing transferable skills is a great way to get your foot in the door. But what skills should you showcase?
Here are three simple steps you can use to help identify your transferable skills so you can move on to a career that you love:
1. Make a list of what you do in a typical day at work.
Make a list of what you do each day at work—step-by-step. Jot down each task (even those that seem mindless or mundane). Then, map out what you do that is not the norm but a part of your responsibilities. While you may view many of these tasks as insignificant, that may not be the case in another role. In fact, those skills may be highly sought after within a new position.
For example, some people dismiss navigating disgruntled customers or don’t recognize their ability to remain organized in fast-paced, changing environments. These are all highly sought-after skills for most positions and employers.
2. Based on that list of responsibilities, assess what your strengths are.
Once you determine what you do each day, see what you do best.
• What skills have you been recognized for by your team or supervisor? Even if you have not been recognized in a formal capacity, think about what your team or supervisor depends on you for—you must do the job well if they continue to look to you to handle specific tasks.
• What skills come so easy to you that you almost overlooked them? Think about what you nearly dismissed as just being “a part of the job.” These skills are likely ones you are so strong at you don’t even consider them to be work.
• What skill have you been doing the longest? In what areas are you the most confident?
3. List the strengths that genuinely bring you the most joy (they likely align with what you want to do).
Even if you aren’t happy with your current job, which of these skills are your strengths? Do you enjoy them? Highlighting these on your resume or LinkedIn profile when searching for a new role is almost a sure-fire way for you to home in on the most appealing positions and market yourself for a job that will satisfy you both professionally and personally. Plus, as you explain this transition to a recruiter or hiring manager, the change will sound natural, as if you were meant to do this all along.
If you are looking to transition careers, you can take a few more steps to strengthen your case:
1. Expand on your skills to demonstrate your thought and purpose.
For example, if project management is something you do regularly, highlight your ability to see the big picture or follow through on menial tasks to ensure milestones are completed per scope. You can always highlight various accomplishments that align with these skills as well. Going beyond the skill itself by showing how you put it into action is an excellent way for companies to see your worth.
2. Make your intentions clear by including a transition statement on your resume and LinkedIn profile.
It can be something simple and just a sentence or two. For example: “Business Development Manager with 15+ years of experience driving revenue through regional sales strategy and market research. Interested in transitioning into an Account Management role, utilizing extensive background fostering long-term partnerships to retain an existing client base.”
3. Consider taking a continuing education course or obtaining a certification in your new field.
This will not only strengthen your overall candidacy but showcase your commitment to learning and development—an attribute almost every employer wishes to see.
While transitioning into a new career may seem impossible, I can tell you first-hand that it isn’t. I did it, and now, more than a decade later, I have helped thousands of professionals land their dream job. I can honestly say it was well worth the journey into the unknown. And, if I can do it, you can, too. Go get 'em!