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How to Transfer Your Skills to a New Industry

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Moving to a new job can be a major transition. Moving to a whole new industry? That can be an even bigger transformation. To pull it off, you’ll need to identify and market the most applicable skills you’ve built up over the course of your career.

Here’s how to begin:

Learn about “transferable skills”

As you seek your first position in a new field, you’ll eventually be asked about your transferable skills – talents or abilities you can transfer from one job to another. Before you can answer that question confidently, it’ll be a good idea to familiarize yourself with the concept of a “transferable skill” and consider which transferable skills may be valuable in your new pursuit.

Most transferable skills fall into three categories:

  • Functional skills: Everybody has inherent skills they use and develop to live and work in society. These are skills like planning, problem solving, or strategizing, and are often the most transferable of all skills. These skills can also be easily expressed on a resume or relayed using examples during an interview.
  • Personal traits and attitudes: Everybody has distinct personality characteristics that can help them perform well in the workplace. If your are exceptionally focused, kind or independent, you will likely excel at tasks that require those attributes, like managing large shipping orders, interacting directly with supervisors and colleagues or servicing remote equipment.
  • Knowledge-based: Everybody has a background of education, experience or training that they draw on to help complete a task. While some knowledge-based skills wouldn’t necessarily transfer from industry to industry, the fact that you’ve learned and developed skills over the course of your career is a good sign of your ability to learn new skills like how to use communication equipment or specialized software.

Identify your transferable skills

Make a list of all your past jobs, then list all the tasks you were responsible for during your time at each position. Recall any special projects that you worked on outside the course of your daily routine. Next, list all the skills that were required to complete each task.

Once you’ve assembled a list of your jobs and skills, go through the listings of positions you’re interested in and list all the tasks and skills those employers are looking for. Working with a recruiter, you can find parallels between the two lists that will help you frame your experiences to align more closely with what potential employers in your new chosen field want.

Market your transferable skills

As you search for your first position in a new industry, keep your transferable skills top of mind as you go about job search activities such as:

  • Writing your resume
  • Attending networking and job fair events
  • Exchanging messages, emails and phone calls with prospective employers
  • Speaking with your recruiter
  • Conducting job interviews

Treat each of these contact points as a new opportunity to showcase your transferable skills, fine-tune the way you talk about them and learn more about the industry you’re planning to enter.

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