When thinking about how to effectively transition from one sector that you may have spent numerous years working in to another that is somewhat similar (but not in direct relation), it is sometimes difficult to think outside the box and see how your existing skill set can be used in another environment.
For example: a Psychology major that has worked in the human services field as a youth advocate for 8 years may be a good K-12 Program Director within a community college.
Another example: an experienced engineer with, say, about 10+ years experience that involved presentations, being a team lead and streamlining processes may be an ideal faculty member at a traditional or non-traditional learning institution.
Let’s give one more example, in which I will use myself as the subject: a professional with a Liberal Arts background who began their career mentoring at-risk youth and later moved on to assist the unemployed within their community with their career development may be a great fit for a counseling role that involves employer development.
So, what are transferrable skills, anyway? According to resume writer and creator of TheSimpleJobSearch.com, Kevin Donlin, transferable skills are talents you've acquired that can help an employer but that aren't immediately relevant to the job you seek. They are experiences like volunteer work, hobbies, sports, previous jobs, college coursework or even life happenings can lead you to find these skills.
Now that we’ve defined them, how to you identify them? That’s easier than you think! Just look at the job(s) that you are interested in. Pulling out the core competencies, about 3-5, think about your work history in its totality—including your volunteer experience—and draw similarities. From there you could adjust your resume by integrating key words and phrases into your resume to show an alignment between your skill set and the primary duties the job requires.
We often think that the employer wants to see an exact match, sometimes feeling discouraged that we only have 6-7 of the 10 requirements. But realistically what most employers want to see is that you have the basic ability required to learn and perform the task at hand. If you can see yourself doing the job and are able to verbalize it on paper (and in a practice interview!), then apply. Let them tell you ‘no’!
Homework: step outside your comfort zone and identify 1-2 jobs functions you have always wanted to perform, but thought you would be unable to because of your degree and/or work history. Thereafter, take pen to paper (or type it on your pc/IpadJ) and work on matching your existing skill set up with the core requirements. Where is the skill gap? Could that which you identify as a ‘gap’ be remedied by a class or two, or would an entirely new degree be required? If you are not sure, Google O*net and put in your ideal job title. The relevant search results will give you some of the typical tasks for the job function, as well as the typical education requirements.
Discussion: What is the most difficult thing you’ve found in completing the homework—the perception of what you did in your former role, or being able to picture yourself doing something different? Have you ever shadowed anyone who works in a role that interests you and how did that help you to determine your next steps?