What are transferable skills and how do we use them.

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Everyone has transferable skills, no matter what you have been doing for the last 2 years you will be able to highlight something that demonstrates what some call ‘Soft Skills’. Things like team work, communication, building rapport, all the things that may be listed on your CV already but, are they listed in the right way? The importance of the skills being transferable is know how to write them on your CV and discuss them in interview.

The first thing to do is read through the Job description and see how many of the ‘ relevant skills’ you have. This is the part that can scare people away from applying. When you take on a new job it is unlikely you will have all of the skills required. Don’t assume just because you don’t have every course or requirement on your CV you cannot get a job. Use your transferable skills to sell your potential. Find the relevant ones you do have and refer to them in your CV or cover letter. Then the ones you don’t have, think about how these may have been used in your everyday life or another role these are your ‘transferable skills’. Explain your thinking behind how they fit and benefit the role.

Transferable skills are usually the ones that come naturally to you, things like being a good communicator can get better with practice but people assume that everyone has this skill, its not the case. Being a natural at something means that the skills you possess have very little to do with your previous work experience. You could be great at the bigger picture or focusing on long term goals but others  do better with small detail and short term wins. Not everyone is creative and innovative or more analytic and able to spot trends, you might be. These are not job specific this is just what you do well.

If you are unsure on what your skills are, don’t worry it can be the same for most people. What are you known for ? – are you known for how you communicate or positive attitude. Sometimes it takes an outside view to show us what we are good at. Try asking some of your friends or colleagues what they thing you are good at. Often others see our strengths better than we do as we can be over critical of ourselves. There are also some online tests that you can take that show you some of strengths and weaknesses.

Another thing to think about is what do you enjoy. We often enjoy thing we are good at. It’s a chicken and eggs scenario with this. As humans we enjoy things as we are good at as it brings satisfaction but if we are passionate about something we often put out energy into it therefor become good at it. It is true with a job too. If you enjoy it you will do well and feel fulfilled. You will find your interests and transferable skills align.


How to ‘sell’ your transferable skills –

Be transparent, don’t lie. If you have never had a job like the one you are applying for don’t focus on your previous roles too much think about your transferable skills. How did you manage a projects and how this will apply to the new role. Give examples of what you have done, how you have used your skills and connect them to the new companies objectives and values, missions etc.  create a short story out of your skills i.e.’ I volunteered as group leader for xxxx at the community center. I was able to communicate effectively and build rapport with the task force. This meant that everybody was able to work efficiently and get the project complete ahead of schedule.  Within this statement you have demonstrated your communication and team management skills. To improve this it would be a good to include and obstacles you over came in the process.

Some of the famous people you know and even business owners you know that are doing great things, running their own companies jumped in and learnt on the way and are still learning.

Try to follow a pattern in interview answers and practice your answers before you attend. Give your situation/ example in reference to their question, explain how you handle this situation – Give an example of when you have used this in real life. Explain the outcome and your feelings around it. Most of all remain positive and speak clearly. it can often be your personality that wins you a job.

Good Luck!