SKILLS DEVELOPMENT / 24 July 2020Soft Skills: Why They are Harder Than You Think and How You Can Acquire Them
Are you looking to shift careers? Many of the skills employers are seeking from candidates are directly transferable from your existing experience, and that applies to more skills than you may realize. So what are transferable skills?
Transferable skills are abilities or talents that you’ve developed during your participation in many duties and activities. When shifting to a different department or a whole new industry, your job is to show why you are the best match from your digital presence to your in-person interview. Showcase your transferrable skills to successfully make a career change:
Research the Skills Required for the Change
What do the advertised descriptions say on job websites? You may not have all the skills listed, but scan for those that relate to skills you’ve developed through another role, activity or hobby.
If you are making a transition from a server position to a sales position, your transferable skills may look like this: team-player, friendly and quick-thinker with experience up-selling the wine list — a.k.a. the new position’s products. So, that college experience you’ve had waiting tables is transferable to a full-time position in sales.
If you still feel at a loss, a great way to discover your transferable skills is to first make a list of your accomplishments and skills to the present. Then, compare that list to the new job you’re applying for. Is there a task you’ve not done before but know of a past experience where you were successful at learning something new? That’s transferable. Own it on your application materials.
List Examples of Applying Your Transferable Skills to a Challenge
You know what your transferable skills are, but you also will need to back those up with concrete examples. Apply your transferable skills to a past challenge on your digital profile or application materials by listing a specific example.
An effective way to showcase this is to use the CAR approach to share a challenge, action and result. What challenge did you face? What action did you take to resolve the issue? What were the specific results you accomplished? Use these questions to formulate a succinct and targeted answer.
Hone in on Specific Career Goals
While your target job should match the goals you have in mind for your future career, you may still be applying for whatever you can find. Get specific in your career goals to truly be the best fit for the job, because no one has your unique skillset and experience.
Use your transferable skills and CAR examples to showcase a well-defined path toward your future career. What do you want to accomplish in this new role? Where do you envision this new experience taking you in five years? What excites you about the company?
Speak up passionately about your specific goals on your application materials and profiles to show the company you’re the best fit. Use accomplishment-oriented language to describe your transferable skills and career goals. For example, talk about the outcome of a project you worked on or how your role increased customer satisfaction. You will achieve results for the new employer, too, because you’ve been searching specifically for this role.
Make Your Skillset Stand Out
When presenting your skills online or offline, your application materials and online profile should be easily readable and quickly scanned. Those transferable skills and specific examples of accomplishments need to stand out. Use these tips to best visually represent yourself, as an employer is reviewing your candidacy:
Use headers appropriately to describe your past jobs, experiences and existing skills. Don’t list the wrong or incomplete information in an inappropriate area — it’s very frustrating for the employer.
Use targeted word choices to add punch to your descriptions. Choose “streamlined,” “diagnosed” or “integrated” if you made changes that led to improvement in the past.
Go back to the new job description and scan through it. Match your language to the company’s keywords, but not word for word. Reveal that you speak a similar language.
If you use a mission statement, think of it as your own personal tagline for what you are setting out to accomplish with this role in line with your career goals.
Keep your information clean and simple. Use short sentences and break up big paragraphs. Proofread and cut pointless words and information.
When you showcase your transferable skills proudly and clearly, the employer will easily spot the keywords and evidence of the qualified candidate they’re looking for. Every employer is looking for that something extra, and your transferable skills are that specific “oomph” they’re searching for.
Your diverse background doesn’t have to come off boring, lazy or unfocused on your application materials. Your various skills are transferable and highlight the unique individual that you are, with specific talents for this specific role. So, showcase your transferable skills and qualified professional experience upfront to secure the career change you’ve been seeking, because you are the best fit for the job.
Sarah Landrum is a freelance writer and Digital Marketing Specialist. She is also the founder of Punched Clocks, a site dedicated to sharing advice on navigating the work world.