What does it take to be a successful candidate? A university degree? Won’t hurt. Previous job-related experience? Still a big pool of talent to beat there. It wasn’t too long ago that hiring managers were setting a precedent on soft skills when hiring talent. In fact, a 2019 study found that 92% talent professionals and hiring managers agree that candidates with strong people skills are increasingly important. Prior to this, employers mainly focused on a candidate’s ability to bring technical skills such as the ability to write, code, use Microsoft Suite, etc.
Today, employers and hiring managers are looking for well-rounded candidates. Not only do they want the candidate to be an excellent accountant, but they also want this person to demonstrate strong communication skills. Additionally, after surviving a pandemic, employers are eager to learn about a candidate’s life and career skills, among other transferable skills.
What are transferable skills?
Technically, these are skills that can be “transferred” from one job or company to another and can be useful in your next role. These are life skills like problem solving and self-awareness that intersect with professional skills like leadership and critical thinking. In the tech industry, for example, someone who sits in a corner buried in code may not be as valuable as someone who can listen, absorb, and execute with the rest of the team.
How to think about your skills in a transferable way
life skills: The pandemic has impacted the way we work. Those balancing the intuition and depth demands of hybrid work environments had to make a conscious effort to be considerate and patient with colleagues and clients. Others, who may have balanced their work as stay-at-home parents, may highlight newly developed skills such as house order, project management, high-pressure work, and organizational skills that are all transferable to the workforce. Personal priorities and relationships with others have changed with the pandemic, and the life skills we have learned may be attractive to recruiters.
Professional skills: Have you considered moving into a new industry or completely changing roles? You’re not alone. 49% of American workers said they had changed careers drastically since the start of the pandemic. Today, we see candidates with ten to 30 years of experience specializing in one skill pivot to building something brand new. Examine your existing job skills and identify how they can support your new role, directly or indirectly. Maybe it gives you a different perspective on how to approach solutions. If you’re someone looking to move away from a traditional 9am-5pm role and into flexible hours, note that for your recruiter or potential employer, willingness to adapt is a big plus.
Soft skills: Soft skills can be essential in a work environment. Are you a candidate who can demonstrate effective communication, teamwork, problem solving and time management skills in addition to being able to complete your administrative duties? When it comes time to interview, write down examples from past experiences.
Technical skills: These are the essential skills required to fulfill your role. Examples include technical, IT, analytical, marketing, presentation, and management skills depending on your area of work.
Know yourself, transferable
Unfortunately, job seekers struggle to identify their individual sets of transferable skills. LiveCareer surveyed over 1,500 people who have been unemployed for the past two years and found that a majority (57%) cannot identify their own transferable skills and do not know how to apply them if they found a new job. Fortunately, there are tools to help solve both problems:
- Take an online assessment. A simple Google search will bring up literally dozens of transferable skills assessments. Most job search sites have one. The one I found most comprehensive and useful comes from princeton university.
- Review your life skills. Make a list of challenges, recent or old. Better yet, make a list of the crises you’ve been through. You will usually find unique skills that allowed you to overcome these challenges, and this can become a good list to start with. Be sure to err on the side of relevance. For example, parenting skills or travel experiences are excellent; but patience and organization are life skills.
- Draw skill at work. If you don’t make the connection to work, your transferable skills will read like a dating profile. Connecting them to the work environment is essential, and not limited to job seekers. The entry-level sales rep may find they have above-average close rates through cold calling. This turns “good communicator” or “works well under pressure” into a valid reason for a raise or promotion.
- Prove it. Nothing like volunteer work or an extracurricular activity in your personal life or at work to support the presentation of your transferable skills. If you’re the aforementioned coder who can’t relate to people, maybe volunteering for a high school STEM program will be the bridge to a more diverse skill set.
Transferable skills come from life and career experiences, but they can become part of your personal brand with a little framing. The company you will work for – or currently work for – will thank you.
Jeanniey Walden is Director of Innovation and Marketing at DailyPay.