Our Senior Director, Rian Powell, sat down with CareerBuilder to discuss why transferable skills matter. Here’s a glimpse into the interview:
How do you personally define ‘transferable skills’?
Skills learned on the job, in school, or if on a board or committee for any extracurricular activities, that are indirectly related to the job you’re interviewing for.
What are some of the most valuable transferable skills employers look for today? Why?
Ability to handle difficult situations. This can be from working a retail position and dealing with disgruntled customers, or working on a team project while in school where there was friction amongst the team members. How you resolve a tough situation in one situation can transfer to another, and this will be applicable in any role.
Ability to analyze data, trends or reports. More and more hiring managers are paying attention to data analytics, regardless of the role. Oftentimes people don’t think they’re an analytical person, but many people have analyzed data in some capacity. It’s a transferable skillset, whether it be for a school project, on the job in a previous role, or even looking at how a personal post on Facebook did in terms of activity and analyzing why it performed a certain way. We’re starting to see more STEM candidates in the jobs market who have experience and knowledge in high-volume data tools, and if you worked in one data set, you can work in another. It’s highly transferable.
Communication. Communication is one of the most important skills to have in the workplace and can be transferred from any previous experience – personal or professional. If in school, effective communication can be picked up from being on a committee, part of a club or college sport, or from group projects or presentation. If someone is already in the workforce, effective communication can come from personal experience or even paying attention to effective communicators and how they approach different types of conversation.
Prioritizing. This is critical in the workplace and everyone has experienced this in some capacity. For recent college students entering the workforce examples can stem from having to balancing class with sports, or with an extracurricular activity. If you are a parent returning to the workforce this is an ongoing balancing act and knowing what is important vs urgent is a skill that is relatable to any industry. Prioritization shows that you have a strong work ethic and are able to manage multiple tasks. Every job requires it and it’s highly transferable.
How can a candidate demonstrate transferable skills? Either in person or on a resume?
Before going in for an interview, candidates should write down a list of these skills and examples of how they’ve done each. It’s helpful to think about these before the interview.
If you don’t have the direct experience, point that out and follow up with how your skills are transferable. It shows the interviewer you’re savvy enough to relay the closest experience you have to match what the role requires or that you have a genuine interest in those tasks. It also shows how prepared you are to interview for the specific role.
For career changes, transferable skills will be key. Along with getting a certification, relying on transferable experience and skills from their previous career is how you market yourself, be sure to explain how they apply to the new role during the interview, or in the resume. The objective statement would be a great place to briefly explain this, or in a cover letter.
Are there ways in which candidates can develop their transferable skills?
If you’re looking to move into a new industry or take the next step in your career, take classes either online or at a community college. Do it outside of the workplace to show that you’re passionate about it and willing to invest your own time. You could also attend networking events in that new industry or role to meet people in the industry who can help you learn and grow.
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