Tap into the talents you’ve cultivated over years of work when looking for roles in a new industry.
If you’re looking to change careers in midlife, you’ve likely spent hours at the kitchen table, identifying the roles you want to pursue, and mapping out the steps you need to take to make yourself a more qualified candidate.
That might include heavy networking with folks in your chosen industry to identify opportunities, and enrolling in courses – either online or physical – to master skills your pivot requires.
One area you may be overlooking? Transferrable skills, or those already in your pocket, that can be applied to a variety of industry and roles.
“Transferrable skills are the skills, or tools, that you have, that can be transferred to and applied in a variety of employment settings,” says Barri Waltcher, Apres Career Coach and cofounder of Mind Your Own Business Moms, a business that supports women in all facets of professional development.
But how can you tell if the skills you have are transferrable?
“All skills are transferrable,” says Waltcher. “The question is whether the skills will be useful or necessary in another position or job.”
Step One: Take Stock Of Your Skills
Many folks who are good at something often don’t recognize it as a valuable skill, says Waltcher. This means that job-related expertise and aptitude sometimes get short shrift when they should be highlighted.
“Basic skills” might include everything from communicating in writing, public speaking and using math to solve problems. “People skills” might include providing constructive criticism, building string customer relationships, handling complaints and delegating work to others. “Management skills” might include hiring, managing employees, negotiating contracts and evaluating personnel.
“As an example, a litigation attorney’s skills include research, analysis, client relations and advocacy,” says Waltcher. “Those skills are transferrable to many other careers. A lawyer will use the same skill set doing career development work, since that involves researching job prospects, analyzing clients’ career issues, working productively with clients and advocating for clients.”
Step Two: See Which Carryover To Your New Industry
Once you have identified your skills, it’s time to figure out which are necessary in the type of role you plan to pursue, or the position you are applying for.
“The best way to do this is to, one, look closely at the job description to see the skills that are required for the position and, two, conduct informational interviews with people in the position you are considering,” says Waltcher. “Finally, compare the inventory of skills you use in your current position with the ones required in the prospective position.”
Step Three: Highlight These Skills On Your Resume
The key here is to make the connection between your experience and that of the desired role.
That often means highlighting the application of the skill without respect to the environment, industry, or job function. This allows you to demonstrate talents and expertise without distracting a hiring manager with specifics that do not apply to their situations, says Adler.
Barri Waltcher suggests listing your skills in the “Professional Skills or Summary” section of your resume, if that is industry-standard. A development professional, she says, might list her transferrable skills this way:
“Another way to demonstrate transferrable skills on a resume is through the bullet points under your job descriptions,” she says. “For example, if your transferrable skill is training employees, you can emphasize that through this bullet point:”
-Designed and facilitated training programs for sales people and sales managers in Chicago, Bangalore, London, Singapore, and Vilnius.
Step Four: Talk About Them In An Interview
When a hiring manager is interviewing you, she is trying to gauge the likelihood of your success in her company, often, says Waltcher, “based upon an understanding of your value to another employer.”
“The most effective way to do that is to demonstrate your transferrable skills by telling a story that demonstrates how you applied the skills that would be called for in the prospective position,” she says. “For example, if you are applying for a sales position, tell a story about a time in your prior job when your persuasiveness skills were effective. Before an interview, you should prepare three stories that demonstrate your transferrable skills.”
Another takeaway? Use the organization’s terminology, says Stephanie Cabrera Esenwa, an Apres Career Coach. That’s because, “you want to make sure that you are positioning yourself as an insider who knows the lingo and has the experience to back it up, no matter where it comes from.”