CHANGING CAREERS / JUL. 30, 2016
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Transferable Skills That Can Help You Make a Successful Career Change

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If you want to make a career change but you are scared that you’ll never get an employer to hire you stop worrying. Transferable skills can help you.

The reality is that not everyone is destined to remain in the job they picked when they were eighteen years old. You may have studied and even worked in a certain field for years, but that does not mean that you’re going to continue feeling passionate about it for the rest of your life.

Many people admit that at one point or another, they’ve fallen in love with a different career or feel that a particular career better fits their personality type and have wanted to make a change. But, most people are scared of making a career change because they believe that without the qualifications and the experience they’ll never get hired. The truth is that you can make a career change even if you don’t have all the essential qualifications or work experience.

Why Are Some People Intimidated by Career Change?

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If you have been a working in a job that offers you zero satisfaction and you’re passionate about a different career, there’s a good chance you feel like you can’t do anything about it and that you’ll be stuck in the same job for the rest of your working life.

But that’s a losers attitude you should never embrace if you’re interested in achieving professional bliss. You should always make a point of following your professional passions because that’s the only way to be happy at work and by extension, that’s the only way to become successful. Because if you are not happy at work, you’re never going to be motivated, and you’re never going to be able to go above and beyond to become successful.

Therefore, it’s important to change careers if you’re passionate about a different career. Whether or not you have the work experience that will make the job search process easier is unimportant since all you really need to get your leg through the door is to convince the hiring manager that you have skills that are valuable to the company.

What this essentially means is that the skills you’ve acquired in your previous or current job can be useful even if you’re changing careers. You can transfer them into a new career, and if you do this the right way, there’s no doubt that the hiring manager is going to want to meet with you.

What Are Transferable Skills and How Can They Help You?

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The term ‘transferable skills’ is used to describe any and every skill you’ve acquired in a professional context that can also be used in a different context.

So if, for example, you’ve worked as a lawyer for many years and are now looking for something less stressful you can always turn to counselling. Although the two fields may be distinctly dissimilar, the skills you’ve acquired from your lawyering days, such as communication skills and researching skills, can be transferred into your new career as they are essential in that career as well.

Transferable skills can help you recycle your skills to get a new job, even if it that new job is in a completely unrelated field. Of course keep in mind that for many career changes you’re going to need to have some sort of qualification before making the career change, but if you are determined to make the jump you can always take up afternoon classes to acquire the necessary qualifications.

Transferable skills are what you can use to get over the barrier of ‘no relevant experience’ that many people who have made a career change face. When your resume objective is to demonstrate to the hiring manager that you have relevant skills which will be valuable to them, you’ve already won the game with transferable skills.

Adding Transferable Skills to Your Resume

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If you’re determined not to allow the fact that you have no relevant experience to get in the way of your professional bliss, then all you need is to make it your resume objective. This will help your job search, and you’ll find that you’re going to get a lot more interview requests with this tactic.

Keep in mind that all skills can be transferable, depending on where they are being transferred to and from. What’s important though is to highlight those skills that are also highlighted in the job description. So rather than determining how your skills can be transferred to your new desired career in general, make a point of rewriting your resume each time you’re applying for a new job. Read the job description carefully and make a note of all the skills that are highlighted there. Then rewrite the skills section on your resume with the objective of highlighting the same skills.

So if, for example, you’re applying for a job that highlights the ‘ability to work closely with others’ and you’ve been working as a teacher so far don’t fret. Simply think of how you’ve interacted with students and their parents and think of examples which demonstrate your excellent people skills. So if you are a person who’s always managed to resolve conflicts between students, or even between parents, then you have great people skills, and you can work well with others so add that skill to your resume.

Remember that all new hires are risky and hiring managers know that. What they are looking for, though, is someone with a minimal risk factor and by adding transferable skills to your resume you’re essentially telling the hiring manager that you are not as risky as they think.

The list below will assist you with adding soft transferable skills to your resume. But, remember that to go through the job search process successfully you’ll need to read the job description carefully and ensure that your resume is in sync with that, while you’ll also need to assure them that you have some – if not all - of the hard skills required.

List of Transferable Skills

Teamwork

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Most jobs are going to require you to have some teamwork skills, so it’s essential that you add this skill to your resume. As pointed out with the example above, you don’t necessarily have to have experience in working in a team, but any interaction with other people to get the job done will help you prove that you have this skill. For example, if you’ve ever been part of a group at school can be used here. What you need to do is to think of any situations where you’ve demonstrated your ability to work with others to achieve results, to make decisions and to solve problems.

Leadership

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By adding this skill to your resume, you’re essentially saying that you have taken initiative and shown your leadership abilities in the past. So think of times when you’ve helped motivate others and assumed the responsibility to achieve results. Also, if you’ve managed to delegate job responsibilities successfully and have assisted others to learn you can use those examples.

Personal Motivation, Organization and Time Management

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This skill is all about being able to successfully manage and prioritise your workload, and it’s an essential skill to most employers as it demonstrates your ability to work alone (as well with others) and take responsibility for your time and work. So think of examples of times when you were able to manage your time effectively and organise your work. Do you have examples of being able to structure and arrange resources to achieve objectives? Basically what you need to prove here is that you’ve been proactive in the past.

Listening

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Most hiring managers list listening as an essential skill and it’s important because it demonstrates your ability to understand and process critical or complex information. It’s essential to prove that you have excellent listening skills as they can help avoid costly mistakes, misunderstandings and lost opportunities.

Written Communication

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If you’re adding this skill to your resume, you need to be able to give examples of times when you were able to write accurately, clearly and concisely in a variety of styles. You need to demonstrate that you can adapt your writing style frequently to produce reports, press releases, marketing materials, letters or emails and so on. If you lack relevant work experience, you can always think back to your college years when you were required to write essays and dissertations.

Verbal Communication

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Verbal communication is an essential skill if you’re applying for a job where you’ll be required to give presentations etc. So it’s important to demonstrate your ability to speak dynamically. Think of examples of times when you were able to address others in groups and face to face. If you don’t have any recent examples of giving presentations, you can give examples of times when you had to give presentations and talks at school or college.

Research and Analytical Skills

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All jobs require some research and analytical skills so it’s important to demonstrate your ability to gather, interpret and analyse information. You need to show that you’re able to make sense of sales figures, new products, supplier specifications, technical reports and financial information.

Numeracy Skills

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Numeracy skills mean that you can accurately and efficiently work with numbers. Even if you’re not applying for a job that has numbers at its centre it’s still important to demonstrate that you can work with figures, make calculations, understand graphs and charts and simple statistics as they demonstrate your ability to recognise important numerical information and trends.

Personal Development

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Personal development has to do with your willingness to learn and progress which for the hiring manager translates to your ability to be enthusiastic and willing to take on new challenges. So what you need to demonstrate to the hiring manager is that you’re able to recognise your personal strengths and weaknesses and evaluate your own performance.

Information Technology

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Information ability has to do with your ability to work with spreadsheets and web-based software on a daily basis, but it’s also to do with your ability to learn new systems quickly so think back to times when you were required to learn something fast.

Examples of Career Changes Based on Transferable Skills

Below we’ve listed some examples of career changes you can make and how you can use transferable skills to get your leg in the door.

Account Manager to UX/UI Design

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If you’ve been working with customers for a long time and would like a career change to something that will not revolve around clients, making a jump to UX/UI Design will be easy. Your awareness of customer experience will be valuable as you’ll be able to provide insight into what customers think, like and dislike and you’ll be able to help create unique, intuitive and easy-to-use products.

Teacher to Marketing

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Although not an obvious career change, professionals with teaching experience can be valuable to marketing teams across the world. As a teacher, you were probably tasked with the responsibility of producing and designing different material to cater to the needs of large and diverse groups. Similarly, in marketing you need to be able to come up with solutions that will cater to the needs of diverse audiences, while you can also use your creativity to produce material that will engage your target audience.

Accountant to Programmer

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It goes without saying that to make this career change you’ll need to acquire the hard skills as well. However, when it comes to soft skills accountants like programmers are tasked with understanding and interpreting large amounts of data and then communicating that in such a way that people that do not have their background can understand.

The reality is that you can make any career change you want so long as you make your work experience transferable. The key is to find something that you’re passionate about and something that you find fulfilling and invest in making that career change. Remember that your resume’s objective should be to convince the hiring manager that you are in possession of the skills they require and this will make your job search so much easier.

Have you ever added transferable skills to your resume? How did you do it? Let us know in the comment section below.

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