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Are you making the most of your transferable skills?

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Lizzie Tasker Career Advice, Work Life, Job Search...

Are you looking for your first step into the world of work but you’re struggling because you don’t have relevant experience? Or perhaps you’re considering a change of career or industry and are wondering how to overcome your lack of experience?

Well, maybe it’s time to discover your transferable skills and unlock their hidden potential!

Firstly, what are transferable skills?

Transferable skills can be actual tangible skills such as being able to use Word or Excel or being able to speak a certain language or write brilliant copy, or they can be soft skills such as organisation, leadership or communication.

These skills don’t necessarily have to come from the workplace, you’ve possibly been working on some of them from an early age throughout your education, social interactions and personal experiences without even realising. And because they don’t just belong in one industry, sector or role, you can use them to your advantage as a vital selling tool during your search for work.  

Unless you’re applying for very senior or specialist jobs, most roles will be able to be broken down into a few core elements; things like handling data, using systems or completing paperwork, providing customer service, sales or managing a team; meaning the actual product or service is often irrelevant.

So, think about the role or industry that you are aiming for and consider what core skills a potential employer might be looking for. For example, working as an Event Planner will need someone who is highly organised with attention to detail and able to communicate effectively, working in a Human Resources role will require listening skills and empathy, or working in Accountancy and Finance roles will require strong numeracy skills and ability to analyse volumes of data accurately.  

Then consider your own skillset and decide how you can best emphasise and demonstrate your relevant skills in order to convince a potential employer that you’re the best fit for the job.

Perhaps you’ve worked in retail but have always dreamt of working in a call centre. You would need to ensure your CV highlights your customer service skills first and foremost, and then back this up with specific examples, such as a time where you dealt with a difficult customer, overcame an objection to make a sale or resolved a query.

Or perhaps you’re a school leaver or graduate who hasn’t had any work experience yet. Consider whether you’ve ever had to work as part of a team to resolve an issue, manage your time effectively to meet a deadline, or even shown leadership qualities in scenarios such as sports/hobbies, voluntary work, work experience or though programmes such as Duke of Edinburgh award.

Remember that it’s important to ensure your CV and application is tailored specifically to each role you apply for, and the best way to do this is to review the job description and person specification and pick out the key skills that are most relevant to you and where you can best demonstrate your transferable skills.