How to use transferable skills to switch industries
Switching jobs is one thing, but taking a leap into a whole new industry takes time, planning and fair amount of hard work. But don’t let that deter you! Even if you’re in banking and want to make a shift to a more creative career in marketing, you have more skills than you think that are relevant.
These are called transferable skills - competencies you can use and tailor to numerous positions.
While employers might be looking for specific technical skills (for example, you’re unlikely to get hired as a programmer if you don’t know the coding language!) there are a number of general skills you may have picked up from your previous job experience that make you a great candidate.
So, what are the first steps you can take to leap into a whole new industry?
1. First, identify your transferable skills
Your transferable skills will depend on the job you are planning to go to. On a general level, all employers typically want their staff to have skills around problem solving, organisation, working to deadlines and the ability to use initiative and make decisions. For leadership roles, you need to display management abilities, and the ability to motivate people. Wherever you can share strong examples of these skills in your past, do it!
In a nutshell, here are some transferable skills you can identify for yourself:
• Ability to learn new skills fast
• Can communicate clearly in writing
• Understand and carry out instructions
• Develop relationships with colleagues and clients/customers
• Negotiate, persuade and influence
• Receive and provide feedback
• Collaborate with others
• Motivate people
• Evaluate performance
• Oversee budgets and P&Ls
• Analyse information and forecast
• Plan and implement activities and tasks
• Manage time and meet deadlines
• Generate ideas and produce reports
• Use software related to the job
• Maintain equipment and stay up to date with relevant technical skills
• Basic internet, email and search engine skills
• Public speaking
• Knowledge of another language
• Any other interesting skills that could come in handy (i.e. design)
2. Determine the skills you don’t have
It’s also important that you figure out exactly what your desired role requires from you. Job postings in Monster often come with information about what the employer is looking for. If you don’t have one the skills necessary, don’t let it put you off. The employer may be open to helping you gain the necessary skill quickly - especially if you possess plenty of other skills they want and are a good culture fit. It will also show you understand what they’re looking for if you can state clearly that you know you need to work on skill X and skill Y.
If you really need to learn a whole new skill, such as an intricate technical competency, then it could be worth looking into courses and programmes to do ahead of applying for jobs. These will help give you at least a basic understanding of the skill and a base to work from. Plus, an employer will be impressed with your initiative and dedication.
3. Highlight your transferable skills to an employer
Now’s the important part - sell yourself! Go to the interview armed with examples of how and why your skills are relevant and exactly what you achieved with them. Make sure these examples are relevant to the job you’re applying for. They want to see that you not only have skills they need, but also that you’re able to identify what aspects of your skill base are relevant - it shows you understand the role and their business needs, which is incredibly important to set yourself apart.
Looking for a whole new challenge! Scour available jobs in Malaysia here!