Transferable skills. I know that seems to be the new buzz phrase everywhere you look on LinkedIn and with recruiters, but what’s all the fuss about?
So first, let’s define transferable skills. They are “talents and abilities that can be used in different careers”. Pretty simple huh?
Ok, let me give you some examples: Communication, Leadership, Listening, Time Management. These are some general skills at which everybody needs to be good, whether you’re a Doctor or an Accountant.
The more relevant transferable skills are ones that are from your specific industry. When you are applying for a new role within your industry, the recruiter is going to look for skills relevant to the new job. According to Career Builder, transferable skills “are key to landing any new job”.
If you work in Finance and use Excel everyday, whatever new position you apply for will most likely also use Excel. If you have developed project management skills, managing projects for a new company will be a very similar task.
Research Relevant Skills
Now that you have a better idea of what transferable skills are, you should figure out which specific competencies are relevant to jobs in your industry. One of the best ways you can do this is to research job descriptions.
Search for jobs that you would want to transition into next or in the future. Make note of the job requirements. You’ll want to look for skills that frequently appear, even across companies. The industry has deemed these important to have for someone performing this function.
Repeat this until you have a list of at least 4 or 5. Now you know what you will need to learn to be more competitive for your next position.
Next, you need to separate the skills that will require additional education from those that require additional experience.
When it comes to the skills that require education, there are a couple paths you can take. These will differ based on the extent of the education required.
If you noticed that all of the positions you have researched require a specific bachelors or masters degree, that is your next step. If the job is in your long-term career path and it requires a degree that you don’t have, you need to enroll and complete the degree. Now, this is no small task so I encourage you to research this extensively due to the time and monetary commitment involved.
For skills that are less extensive, make use of your online resources that are much cheaper, or even free. Software skills, for example, can be obtained through Lynda, Udemy, Coursera or other similar teaching websites. Even for the paid training, you may only spend $10 to $25.
As the training gets more extensive, so do the prices, so a flat monthly rate service like Lynda may be a smarter option. They also have a wide range of courses that go beyond Excel and HTML, such as Entrepreneurship, Marketing, Writing, even Photography.
If you need some more formal coursework, consider your local community college. They may even have some continuing education courses you can take to get the expertise or education you need.
When you were doing your research, you may have come across skills with additional criteria. You may need to know the skill and have so many years of experience with it.
That is difficult for you to acquire in a class setting. One option is a work share program. There may be departments in your company that use these skills/software and may need outside help at times. Volunteer to assist so you’ll have the opportunity to be trained on that skill.
An added benefit is you will be seen as someone who is eager to learn and help. However, you must ensure everything with your current department/responsibilities is taken care of first.
There are many cases where you can obtain the experience within your own department. If you lack Excel or SQL experience, find a way to use those products to improve your daily processes. You’ll look like a hero for being innovative and you have something you can add to the resume.
To sum up,
- Understand what transferable skills are
- Research the ones relevant to you
- Acquire the knowledge
- Acquire the experience
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