It’s going to happen eventually: You feel stuck in your job role. You want to take your career in a different direction, but your education, your skills, and all the people around you are telling you that it’s too difficult to change.
This can go on for years. Maybe you’re even reasonably good at the job, but more and more it grates on your nerves. You’re just digging a deeper hole for yourself, with no end in sight.
Here’s the way out of this dilemma: Focus on your transferable skills. These are the talents and abilities you have which can be applied to many different jobs.
I was trained as a software engineer, but at some point I was looking to move into a Human Resources role. That’s a pretty big jump, and at the time was unsuccessful being able to make the move. But here’s the transferable skills that I should have focused on:
- My ability to organize and think things through logically. This is a commonly used HR skill, because it’s not just about the touch-feely stuff – especially in a large company.
- My interest in organizational dynamics. Since I had experience as a manager, I had learned quite a bit about how different layers of management worked together, how goals are set, and how this affects peoples’ roles.
- Initiative and follow-through. I had an approach of being able to see what needed to be fixed, taking the initiative to fix it, and carrying through until it was done. I had many examples of where I had done this outside work, too.
- My focus on helping employees succeed in their jobs. Ultimately this turned into my current career in organizational leadership coaching, but it started many years ago when I found out what stunning results could be achieved by motivated and empowered employees.
When I coach people through career changes these days, we spend a lot of time identifying a wide range of transferable skills which could be applied to a new direction. I find it interesting that these skills also tend to be the hardest to learn, while “technical” or “job duty” skills seem to be relatively easy. Take some classes, do an internship, go to school for a year or two, and you’ll have the technical skills in hand.
But these softer skills are learned over a long period of time, become deeply ingrained, and therefore are often more valuable to your employer.
If you’ve had a particular interest over a number of years, even if you haven’t exercised it in your current job, you’ve probably developed some transferable skills that will help you move your career in a better direction.
Highlight those skills in your job search and your customized résumés or CVs.
by Carl Dierschow