Sell your transferable skills
By Susanne Flaherty, Government Selection Panel Consultant, Eden Ritchie Recruitment
There are a number of free tools available online that discuss transferable skills and help you track and understand what skills you have now and help you discover where your skills might fit in other fields and organisations.
Surprisingly, I frequently see candidates apply for roles that they are not competitive for due to lack of experience and skills. What is more surprising is the number of applicants who later explain to me on the phone that they are “a successful professional in their field, therefore can clearly be successful in that (usually quite unrelated) role.”
Sometimes roles can seem fairly homogenous from the outside. For example, customer service. The breadth of customer service skills is vast and the context and complexity is equally vast when looking at all the different components of working in this field. Answering online customer enquiries is very different to working face to face with people in the midst of the worst crisis of their lives. The skills and experience needed to excel in these fields are clearly specialised and so it is not quite as simple as saying ‘I’ve had a customer service role before therefore I will be able to do this other customer service role easily’.
At interview and in your application documents the hiring manager/interviewer will be expecting to hear a considered and articulate account of how your skills align to the role they are recruiting to. They are more likely to be impressed by a thoughtful and planned discussion that shows how well you have understood their role as well as how you have considered where and how your skills will apply to their role and organisation. This may not get you the job but you can make you stand out as an applicant who has transferable skills by acknowledging the experience and skills background of the people in the field you are seeking to move into and showing where yours fit. Most importantly, however, your assessment has to be accurate; a finely crafted argument about your completely unrelated skills is unlikely to win you the position.
To me, the basics for promoting your transferable skills is to plan ahead and prepare. My task list includes:
- build a detailed understanding of your core skills in communications, business operations such as finance, budget and risk and any leadership and management
- Really know your technical and specialist skills, results and successes
- Do your research including talking to professionals and others in the field, employers and with professional bodies
- Do a “stocktake” and undertake a considered assessment of where your key transferable skills are – think about filling any gaps where you are now or through options like micro-skilling
- plan ahead so you are ready for job vacancies and to jump if you come across unexpected opportunities
To view our current opportunities, visit us at Eden Ritchie Recruitment