Transferable Skills – Why are they so important?
Sam Wilson, October 1, 2018
Have you found your ideal position but concerned that you don’t have the relevant experience? Want to change careers but don’t want to waste the skills you’ve built up? There is no denying the value of qualifications and relevant experience however employers above all else want people that have skills that will bring value to their company, carry out their work effectively and fit in with the culture of the organisation.
Transferable skills refer to skills you might have developed from your previous professional experience, education or even your extra curricular activities and hobbies. These can then be applied to opportunities that might not initially appear to be directly relevant. In this article I will discuss ways that you may have developed skills that you can then transfer to a new career.
Your professional experience is incredibly valuable even if it isn’t directly relevant to the position that you want. There are a number of incredibly useful skills that you will have developed that an employer will consider desirable if presented in the right way.
If in previous jobs you have developed experience of writing reports, giving presentations, budgeting, dealing with clients, recruiting and interviewing or handling customers then these are amongst a number of skills that can be transferred to a number of different sectors and positions. Being able to demonstrate these skills will work to your advantage when looking to move into a different area.
Also being able to demonstrate positions of responsibility is a huge advantage when applying for a new position. Any position where you have been trusted to handle money or supervise other employees shows that you were trusted with important responsibility which employers hold in high regard.
Think about successes you’ve had in your previous jobs, there will be ways in which you can translate these into skills that could be applied to the sector and position that you are looking to get into.
Your experiences in education offer a lot more than just qualifications, there are a number of skills that are developed during this time that can then be applied to your professional life.
If you have written a dissertation, thesis or other extended essays at any point then this demonstrates a wide variety of skills that can be applied to a professional environment.
First, and most obvious, is the ability to write which employers find very attractive, if you are comfortable writing at length then an employer can be confident that you’ll be able to write reports and other pieces that require you to effectively communicate important information. It also suggests that you have strong research and analytical skills.
Other skills that can be developed from education are ICT, presentational and organisational skills, the ability to meet deadlines and potentially team work if you were required to do extensive group projects. All of these could potentially be applied to a professional environment.
Extra Curricular activities and hobbies
Any extra-curricular activities you may have been part of or hobbies you have can be an excellent source of transferable skills if applied in the right way.
If you ever been part of a sports team this can be a great source of skills that can be applied to the workplace. It shows the ability to work as part of a team (obviously) as well as communication skills and the ability to perform under pressure. If you ever had a leading role in a team (captain, coach etc) then this demonstrates leadership and motivational skills.
Any charity work you might have done, especially voluntarily, can work massively in your favour. The skills associated with fundraising include the ability to memorise important information and communicate it effectively, the ability to be personable and persuasive and all of these can easily be transferred to other sectors.
Being part of school plays or other performances demonstrates a confidence in public speaking and potentially the ability to make presentations in front of a crowd. Hobbies can demonstrate skills such as problem solving and creativity which are essential for some jobs.
Think about things that you have done that will make you stand out from the crowd and include them in your CV and applications. Something that is different will make a good conversation at an interview and help ensure that you stick in the interviewer’s mind.
Using your skills
When looking into jobs that you feel inexperienced for or looking to enter a new sector then take the time to consider the skills that you have developed up to now. Transferable skills are your opportunity to show that whilst you may not have directly relevant experience that you have skills that would allow you to bring value to that organisation. Sometimes this can work in your favour as an employer might see the opportunity to bring in someone with a different approach.
Be confident in the skills and experience that you have developed over time and there is no reason that you can’t get that job you want.