Understanding your transferable skills is essential to an effective job search strategy and absolutely vital if you are seeking a new direction in your career. All jobs incorporate the use of some transferable skills and the most successful career chameleons recognise this and adapt their resumes to suit.
So what are transferable skills? Essentially they are the skills you offer that you’ve gained through your work, study and personal life that are directly transferable and relevant to the roles you are applying for.
These skills don’t have to have been built only in the workplace, in fact unlike job-related skills they may have been developed through volunteer activities, studies, past projects, even through your hobbies.
Regardless of where you have developed them, knowing what skills employers are looking for in the positions you are applying for and showcasing your skills in these areas is vital to marketing yourself effectively in the career’s marketplace.
When trying to showcase your transferable skills it’s important to understand two things – firstly what the transferable skills are the employer is looking for, and secondly what you have to offer.
To begin this process start by reviewing the position descriptions and advertisements for the positions you are applying for and make a list of the commonly outlined skills they are seeking. Next review your past positions and break them down into the tasks that you performed and the skills you needed to perform them. If these skills can be used in other positions and are relevant to the positions you are applying for, then these are your relevant transferable skills.
When you have done this for past positions, broaden your assessment to others areas of your life such as voluntary work, studies, community activities and even hobbies to further broaden your skills lists. When trying to brainstorm skills consider common transferable skills such as leadership, time management, planning and organising, adaptability, decision-making, team work, relationship development, communication and interpersonal skills, problem solving and critical thinking.
Once you’ve identified your transferable skills you are now able to use these to market yourself to potential employers in your resume, application letter and interview.
With most employers only skimming each resume for up to 15-20 seconds it’s important to realise that simply relying on employers to figure out your transferable skills from your job titles and accountabilities isn’t enough – you need to highlight these skills clearly to employers at the outset of your resume. Consider the front page of your resume as a marketing profile of you. It’s your opportunity to pitch yourself to the employer as skilled and relevant, and highlighting your key transferable skills is an important component of this.
You can do this through a number of ways.
1. Write a career objective that outlines the type of skills you offer and are looking to use.
2. Write an opening profile that describes your key skills.
3. Develop a bulleted list of keywords that describe your core transferable skills or develop a combination resume (chrono-functional resume) that incorporates a description of your key transferable skills and experience on the front page and focuses in the body of the resume more on the skills you offer than just the titles and dates of your past positions.
Finally if you are struggling to present yourself well, consider seeking the support of a professional resume writer. Click here for more information on resumes and Career Edge’s international award winning resume writing services.