So you picked a career in a profession you thought you’d love, but now you’re just not feeling it. You decide it’s time to forge a different path, but how do you break into a new career when you’ve spent your entire working life strapped to this one?
Don’t worry — lack of direct experience is not a barrier to a new career. Believe it or not, you actually have plenty of talents you can utilize no matter which job you choose. They’re called transferable skills, and they pack a powerful resume punch at any stage in your career.
Here are five of the top transferrable skills that can be applied in just about every professional setting. See if you can articulate them from your own experience.
You’re Good At Keeping Balls in the Air
Juggling analogies aside, showing that you fulfilled more than one role in your current position is a great way of proving your worth to prospective employers. The ability to multi-task is a crucial skill, especially if you’re drawn towards non-profits and smaller companies that need all hands on deck.
Being able to handle lots of projects without losing sight of the overreaching goal has a tremendous effect on productivity. And the chances are, you already keep a lot of balls in the air. Anyone who has ever packed lunches, managed last-minute homework malfunctions, precision-timed the bathroom schedule and got everyone out of the house, all before 7.00am, has the ability to multitask in spades. Simply look for a time when you were able to manage numerous moving parts, take charge and enable a positive outcome.
You’re Good At Keeping Lines of Communication Open
We’re not just talking about an ability to communicate — anyone with ears and a mouth can do that to some degree or another. What your resume needs to highlight are those situations where you clearly articulated your thoughts, ideas and suggestions and allowed others to do the same in a way that added value to the organization.
You’ll need to give concrete examples, so think about how you communicate with others, both face-to-face and in group situations. Have you ever delivered a dynamic learning experience? Can you be assertive? Are you the office peacemaker? Do your words enthuse and inspire people? Can you communicate complex ideas in a clear and logical way? If you are good at reading people and pitch-perfect at communicating the message your audience needs to hear, you’ll be an asset to any organization.
You Take the Trouble to Learn
Knowing yourself and finding ways to develop your potential are attractive qualities to employers. By demonstrating that you are keen to plug any skills gaps, you are likely to be seen as enthusiastic and willing to take on new challenges.
Personal development is about evaluating your personal strengths and weaknesses and using your life experiences as a source for growth. It may seem counterintuitive to mention weaknesses to a potential employer, but showing that you understand your limitations (and are taking steps to overcome them) indicates good self-awareness.
Don’t shy away from mentioning the challenges you have overcome, no matter how small they appear. Stepping up to the projects that scare you shows great strength of character, and that strong backbone will pay dividends in your career and personal success.
You Always Go the Extra Mile
Transferrable skills are not limited to work situations. If you devote your weekends to sport, or music, or beat poetry, mention it on your resume. Most athletes and creatives are diligent in their craft. The discipline they need to practice, to be on point for their performances, and to remain fully engaged in their training, while the rest of the world makes its usual demands, is vital in any career. And, that is important because these things teach effective time management skills and the importance of going the extra mile.
Artists, in particular, have the ability to research what has come before, and then build upon (or dismantle) those traditions to create something entirely new. That’s innovation by any other name — a skill that is highly prized by employers in just about every industry, everywhere.
You Can Be Counted On
You may take your perfect attendance record for granted, but the fact is sick leave and arriving late hurt an employer’s bottom line, whether those hours are paid for or not. That’s why reliability, punctuality and diligence can be top selling points, no matter which career you are planning on jumping into.
Reliability isn’t just about time management either. Related workplace characteristics, such as integrity, tenacity and a customer-focused outlook, show that you take your work seriously and don’t leave people waiting. If you understand that deadlines are not movable goalposts that float around your “me” time, be sure to to include specific examples on your resume.
So there you have it — five soft skills that can put you on the road to career success. What transferable skills have helped forge your new career?