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Bringing your Skills to a New Career

Transferable Skills


Bringing Your Skills to a New Career

By Dawn Rosenberg McKay, Guide

You've had enough of your current job. As a matter of fact, you've had enough of your current career. It's time for a change. But what about all that valuable experience you've been stockpiling while toiling away at your job and the jobs that came before it? Do you really have to throw it all away and start from scratch? No you don't. That's where transferable skills come in.

What Are Transferable Skills?

Transferable skills are the skills you've gathered through various jobs, volunteer work, hobbies, sports, or other life experiences that can be used in your next job or new career. In addition to being useful to career changers, transferable skills are also important to those who are facing a layoff, new graduates who are looking for their first jobs, and to those re-entering the workforce after an extended absence.

How to Identify Your Transferable Skills

The job titles you've held may tell little about what your actual jobs entailed. In other words, formal job descriptions are often very different from reality. That is why it's important to dissect each job you've held in order to discover what skills you actually used to do that job. If you are re-entering the workforce or entering it for the first time you'll have to look at your life experiences to get this information. Use this worksheet to help you organize and rate your skills.

Find Out How You Can Use Your Transferable Skills

Self assessments are essential to helping career changers find suitable careers. Part of this should involve finding out what careers best utilize your skills. To learn about various occupations and what skills are required for each, you can do the following:

  • Gather occupational information.

  • Read job descriptions in help wanted ads.

  • Contact professional associations.

Selling Your Transferable Skills to a Prospective Employer

You've identified your transferable skills. You know where you can use them. Now you have to convince potential employers. Simply presenting your job titles on your resume won't do the trick since those titles track your old career path. One way to do this is to write an objective that tells which skills are applicable to the position you are seeking. The other way is to write a skills-based resume — either a functional or combination resume. A functional resume describes each of your skills. A combination resume combines a functional resume with a chronological resume, listing your work experience in addition to your skills.