Transferrable skills: the springboard to your new career

25.06.2018

If you’ve reached a crossroads in your career, switching lanes and heading for the shortcut through the deep dark woods is daunting to say the least.

Having spent your formative years gaining experience in a particular field, treading in new territory certainly won’t be a walk in the park. However, staying put could soon see you stagnate in your role, lose motivation and interest with your day-to-day responsibilities. Nevertheless, most of us fail to realise our ambitions for the fear that changing career will turn our impressive CVs into irrelevant applications doomed to land in spam folders forever.

Thankfully, there’s one saving grace: transferrable skills.

Whether you’re a fabricator with eyes on a maintenance technician role or a customer service agent looking to get a foot in the door in the finance industry, you still have something more to offer than someone coming fresh from full-time education. Along the way, you will have gained a number of skills that can significantly aid in convincing employers that you’re right for the role and ready for the challenge. 

Identify your transferable skills

No matter what your work experience, your transferable skills can be a major selling point. That’s why it’s absolutely critical to take care in reviewing every skill you have gained in your career, be they hard or soft.

Perhaps they will lie in people skills; the ability to communicate effectively, train and teach new staff, build strong customer relationships or efficiently delegate work to a team. Alternatively, you may have certain transferrable technical skills; it may be the case that you’re coming to the field with prior knowledge of certain key processes. Maybe you’ve made yourself invaluable to a business for your strength in critical thinking and problem-solving - a skill employers would be foolish not to recognise.

There’s no use in playing a hand without giving a second thought to unexplored potential, so don’t rush through this task. After all, you might just have an ace up your sleeve that could win you the round.

Reframe your resume

Once you have determined the value you could add to a business within your new role, it’s time to reposition your CV to reflect these selling points. If you’re leaving your career in marketing to work in the law, for example, it’s likely you’ll focus heavily on the different social media tools you used. Instead, you’re more likely to expand on your ability to attract new clients to the business - something law firms can certainly relate to.

There are certain transferable skills that will be valued across all industries: self-determination and an eagerness to learn, courage and confidence as well as creative and critical thinking. Instead of focusing on the specifics, try to consider the challenges you would face within your new role and how your existing skills would help you to overcome them.

Shoot for the stars

Ultimately, there’s little point in staying in a role that doesn’t satisfy or challenge you. It may be trite, but fortune favours the brave. Employers aren’t adverse to hiring based on transferable skills, and most will happily provide necessary training for the right candidate. By repositioning your resume to align with current market needs, you significantly increase your chances of scoring an interview.

Once there, the same rules apply: if an interviewer asks a question about a hard skill you have no experience in, shift the focus back to the value that you do offer or your proven willingness and desire to learn. With the first and largest hurdle out of the way, you’re on the home straight to your new career.