Transferable skills

Making the most of your skills

Frequently I get asked to write CVs for clients who want to change career. Rather than just dive in headfirst and start writing willy-nilly, I usually probe a bit to begin with to assess just how realistic the candidate’s ambitions are. Most of the time I find that the target is usually challenging but potentially feasible nevertheless – as at the very least most candidates have relevant transferable skills for their new target job.
On rarer occasions, on the other hand, certain candidates target jobs that they have very little chance (if any) of landing. For example, I recently had a query from someone who wanted to target IT management jobs. Upon questioning it transpired that he had no managerial experience and no hands-on commercial IT experience. In fact, he had only just passed a short duration, relatively low level IT course. Significantly, he didn’t even meet many of the job specifications’ ‘desirable’ clauses, let alone the ‘essential’ ones. In such cases I am up front with the client and highlighted discrepancies with their experience and qualifications compared with what the employer is looking for.
Of course, a lack of transferable skills doesn’t necessarily mean that you can’t apply for a different job/sector. However, it does mean that the odds are stacked against you if you do.
On the other hand, if you do have relevant transferable skills then you can put these to your advantage.
A significant point is that you don’t always need to have worked using a certain job title, and you don’t necessarily need certain relevant qualifications to get a different job. As long as you have relevant transferable skills, then this can help your cause. Possession of relevant transferable skills doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll get the job, because you will almost certainly be up against competitors with more relevant experience and qualifications than you. However, what it does mean is that you have certain relevant and potentially valuable skills that could enable you to do the job, and do it well – perhaps even better than your competitors regardless of their experience and qualifications.
If you are relying on transferable skills in your CV rather than concrete hands-on experience, then you are starting off at a disadvantage compared to your competitors with more relevant qualifications and experience. That much is fact. However, when you apply for new jobs one significant plus point for you is that employers do not consider it a ‘who has got the most relevant qualifications competition’. On the contrary, it is more a matter of who can do the best job. And as long as you (or someone else on your behalf) can show them that, then you always have a chance.
Paul Hichens (201 Posts)

Paul Hichens, top UK CV specialist, head of leading firm CV Succeed, and author of the most pioneering CV book in decades, The One Page CV (published by top career sector publishers Pearson Education).


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