If you’re thinking about moving to a new career or industry, you’re not alone. According to a recent study by London Business School, 47 percent of UK workers want to make a career change. But making a shift in your career path can be overwhelming if you have no direct experience in the industry or position that you’d like to move into. You may feel like you can’t even make a lateral move, but rather you’d have to take a step back or start at square one.
However, that’s not always the case. You likely have more transferable skills than you realise — you just need to know how to market your applicable experience. Uncover these “hidden” skills and use them to make the career change you’re craving.
What are transferable skills?
Transferable skills are both hard and soft professional skills that can be applied in multiple jobs or industries. For example, even in the very specialised tech industry, a recent survey showed that ‘general professional skills’ are rated as a top sought-after skill by 41 percent of recruiters. What’s more, 40 percent say that candidates lacking the right soft skills is the top challenge when hiring.
A critical component when applying to work in a new industry is to show that while you don’t have prior experience in the role, you do have quantifiable experience that will relate and help you succeed. Instead of using broad and cliche CV terms (think: motivated, results-oriented, organised), emphasise the following transferable skills to show that you’re a well-rounded and valuable candidate for the role.
1. Project Management
Project management requires planning, controlling and executing work related to a project with multiple stakeholders to achieve specific objectives. The great news is you may have this skill without even realising it. If you’ve ever served as the point person on a project that had multiple employees involved, especially if you had a successful outcome, you can apply that experience when interviewing for project management roles.
If you don’t want to move into project management, these skills are still helpful to share because they show that you can multitask, prioritise and exercise time-management. They also show that you know how to work cross-functionally with many different types of employees.
CV Example: Successfully managing seven new projects per quarter across multiple departments has provided me with a solid foundation in project management and cross-department communications.
Whether you’re crafting email correspondence or writing copy for a website, the ability to write accurately, clearly and concisely can apply to many different careers. Examples of valuable writing skills can range from creating reports and presentations to developing marketing materials or landing page copy.
Reflect on the specific writing that you’ve done in past jobs, and how it can apply to your ideal new position. If you feel you can adapt your writing style to different mediums (i.e., writing for customers or shareholders), highlight this transferable skill. If appropriate, you can also include writing samples.
CV Example: In previous roles, I’ve effectively communicated ideas and concepts via daily internal company memos and meeting notes. I feel I can parlay those skills into writing employee handbooks and memos in an HR-capacity.
3. Customer Service
Most businesses, no matter the vertical, deal with customers. If you’ve worked in a customer-facing role, then you’ve likely mastered the highly-valuable soft skill of communicating with people effectively. Consider how your customer service background can be helpful in the role you want to apply to. Even in a marketing role, this can be valuable because you know how to speak to the customer—and that’s what marketing boils down to. While this may not get you into an advanced marketing position immediately, it could be just what you need to get your foot in the door.
CV Example: I have 6+ years of customer service experience, including successfully responding to and resolving the weekly customer complaints, which gives me valuable insight on how to work with clients in all industries.
4. Employee Management
If you’ve managed employees, even interns or part-time staff, be sure to include it on your resume and CV. Employee management experience shows that you know how to motivate staff, problem-solve and delegate work.
Remember, as with any experience on your resume, be specific with your management experience. List the specific responsibilities you’ve held and how many people you’ve managed.
CV Example: I trained and managed a team of five part-time interns for two summers, after which I was promoted to a position with seven freelancers reporting directly to me.
Many professional positions require some level of research. Even if you were simply in an admin/support role and researched locations to host an event, you know how to perform targeted research to produce results — this can be applied to many roles.
One area to exercise caution is with jobs that require specific analysis skills; you don’t want to misrepresent yourself. For example, analysing and researching trends in customer behaviour is a lot different than analysing data for digital marketing. Be specific about the type of research and analysis you’ve worked in and find ways that it can fit into the new role.
CV Example: I researched five new company initiatives for the events team, including in-depth vendor research, cost analysis and networking to find industry referrals and candid feedback, which led to successful and profitable events throughout our 2017 season.Related: Administrative Tasks: What They Are and Most Common Administrative Tasks In the Workplace
Market Your Transferable Skills to Change Your Career
When you want to make a career pivot, you’ll have to work even harder to sell yourself as a viable candidate to employers, especially if you don’t have direct experience. Luckily, your past roles and skills can relate to many new fields, so uncover those transferable professional skills and use them to your advantage.