When changing careers, it is best to focus on transferable skills related to the specific job type or career path you are targeting. By emphasizing the connection between past experience and the skills that define the targeted position, one can make a strong first impression. These transferable skills are key to unlocking the otherwise hidden value you will bring to the organization.
Nearly everyone possesses transferable skills, as they are the skills acquired from past experience that can be employed in other types of jobs, industries, or environments. These skills may have been developed through past employment but can also derive from academic study, volunteer activities, or various avocational endeavors (e.g., hobbies, clubs, community organizations, associations, etc.).
In order to better understand transferable skills, consider the idea of "skills" in general. Skills are the building blocks of a job and can be divided into the following three areas:
Skills with Things: Examples of skills with things include using or working with office equipment, computers, software, tools, instruments, machinery, vehicles, heavy equipment, materials, supplies, buildings, furniture, jewelry, clothing, food, animals, and plants.
Skills with Information or Data: Examples of skills with information or data include planning, researching, developing policies or procedures, keeping records, organizing information, creating, designing, programming, compiling data, calculating, editing, filing, copying, prioritizing, and classifying types of information or data.
Skills with People: Examples of skills with people include the types of people with whom you interacted, such as customers, vendors, patients, students, faculty, coworkers, colleagues, (and whether as individuals, groups, or teams); and the nature of your interaction with people, such as consulting, negotiating, selling, serving, informing, entertaining, counseling, interviewing, coordinating, motivating, or training.
As you consider the type of position you are pursuing, select the appropriate transferable skills and showcase these, along with relevant strengths and accomplishments, in a robust summary of qualifications; this will immediately demonstrate to an employer what you have to offer. By strategically adapting your skill set to the employer’s needs and by developing details based on their importance to the position targeted (rather than in proportion to how much you may have used the skill in previous positions), you connect your past to your future.
In addition to creating a powerful first impression in a summary of qualifications, you will want to provide specific details in your professional experience that support the skills showcased in the qualitative summary. This will reinforce the connection between your experience and this new career opportunity!