Many people believe that changing careers means starting over from scratch with no skills or experience, but that's not true. Anyone with work experience or those with some education in their background but no work experience possess transferable skills that they can use in any industry.
When you're ready to get out of the rut you're in and change your career path, or job, you'll need these transferable skills.
What Are Transferable Skills?
A transferable skill is not a certification or assessment that you passed and received some form of acknowledgment for. If anything, these skills will seem like natural parts of your personality. When asking yourself, what are transferable skills that I have, you should focus on what aspects of any job come to you easily.
When you're ready to get serious about switching jobs or pursue new opportunities, you should create two lists: a hard skills list and a soft skills list. Most skills that transfer between many industries are soft skills. The good news is that there are many hard skills that transcend an industry stereotype as well which you can use in different career opportunities.
The goal that you should be preparing for is when you're directly interacting with potential employers, hiring managers, and recruiters who want to know a little bit more about you. You want to be to answer potential employers or fellow job seekers when they ask you, "What are your transferable skills", you'll be prepared to tell them that they're natural parts of your personality that you've developed into something useful in whichever career you're pursuing or passionate about.
Hard Skills That Transfer
This brief list is a sample of hard skills that you can easily apply for nearly every industry, but most you’ll notice cater particularly to jobs within the science and medical fields:
- Analytical Skills
- Number Proficiency
- Report Writing and Analysis
- Software and Technology Interaction
These four skills can apply to nearly any industry. Anyone who has basic analytic skills will do well in math or science-based professions regardless of how they've previously used this knowledge. Additionally, those who work well with numbers and handle moderate to complex mathematics easily can thrive in a massive variety of industries.
Report writing and analysis are also hard skills that many learn through years of experience in supervisory positions. Finally, the most sought-after transferable hard skill is software proficiency or technology interaction. If you can prove through your work experience or educational background that you can learn to use technology or software quickly, you’ll immediately improve your value as an employee.
One of the reasons that being able to learn and implement new technology into your daily routine is to showcase that you're capable of being trained quickly and implement your skills in the ever-increase world of technology.
Transferable Soft Skills
There are probably endless soft skills that transfer from one job to another because that’s the underlying benefit of soft skills. They’re hard to teach, can take years to hone, and are highly valuable. The interesting thing about soft skills is that they're directly shaped by your experiences and some of your natural talents. If you've had several roles where you were forced to communicate with others on a daily basis, then you will have stronger communication skills than those who sit in a cubicle all day during their career.
We've taken the time to list some of the most common soft skills. This list offers some of the more popular soft skills which can transfer from one job to another:
- Communicatino Skills
- Sales Skills
- Personal Development
- Research Proficiency
- Verbal and Written Clarity
- Active Listening
- Motivational Skills
- Time Management Skills
- Organizational Abilities
- Customer Service Skills
These soft skills have application in every profession from a Receptionist to Emergency Medical Technicians
and many more jobs you can imagine.
Step One: Identify Your Skills
The next step that you need to do now that you understand what soft skills and hard skills are out there, is to identify which soft skills you have. Start making a transferable skills list so you can understand what you're working with as you conduct your job search.
Step Two: Rewrite Your Resume
While you should always tailor your resume for the job you're applying for, you can save yourself a massive amount of time if you have a base resume section
that draws more attention to your transferable skills that factor into many industries. When you list some transferable skills
on your list, you will increase the chances of landing a job instead of automatically disqualifying yourself by listing hard skills
that might not be appropriate for the job you're pursuing.
When rewriting your resume, you should focus on three primary areas — your skills, experience, and then your accomplishments.
Your skills need a distinct section that stands out from rest and should be either at the top of the page immediately under your contact information or in a column. For more information on where you should place your skills on your resume, take a look at our Comprehensive Resume Format Guide
Your accomplishments may fit into a few different regions of your page such as your education and work experience; however, you can make your accomplishments stand out
if you list them under each position. Otherwise, you're just randomly listing them throughout the resume but you're not actually connecting them to the positions where you accomplished those feats. Give each accomplishment it’s own bullet point if you’re using a list format.
When showing your accomplishments use numbers to quantify your action and provide direct claims to demonstrate the exact results you've had in your previous positions.
For example, someone with a history in retail or food service might say, “Ensured the happiness of over 45 customers per hour” or “Provided clear communication across 3 departments.”
When doing this, you're also showcasing how you used those transferable skills to achieve results in your previous positions. These are the things that you want to drive home throughout your resume.
Step Three: Change Your Job Search
Searching for a job is easy, and it's no wonder that approximately 10 weeks
after starting their search job seekers set into a depression. When you’re using your transferable skills to guide your job search, you’ll quickly notice that there are almost too many options available. This is because you're not looking for exact matches in your job search, you're looking for potential opportunities where you've had previous experience with your soft skills and can use them in a future role.
Using tools like HospitalCareers.com
is the best way to find potential job opportunities where you'll find plenty of healthcare roles that you can use transferable skills in.
However, the overload of opportunity is what can lead you astray. Instead, change how you look for a job. Use your transferable skills list
to guide you into a field that you can thrive in that you might be passionate about because of your soft skill experience
, while also being picky about what position you take based on whether or not you're truly passionate about that potential role.
Too often, job seekers fall prey into believing that they're at the mercy of whoever needs someone to take a job. That's not the case, you have a valuable skill set, and there's no reason why a company shouldn't be just as lucky to have you as you are fortunate to find a new job.
Search for particular job titles, within locations where you actually want to work. Guide your job search with certainty and control based on the transferable skills that you've identified.
Step Four: Arrive for Every Interview Prepared
When you're looking to switch jobs or pursue new job opportunities, interviews are probably not on your mind until you get that first phone call and appointment. That means you're already behind! Without experience in the field, you are already at a disadvantage compared to the other applicants. An interview is the opportunity to shine and showcase how your skills will apply to the position.
As soon as you begin your job search, you should keep a close eye on what positions you apply for and the skills that align most closely with that job. That way, when you get a call for an interview, you already know what they're hoping to get from you. As you apply and track your applications, make a few notes on the requested skills that you see appearing on many job postings.
The goal you are working to achieve is to have a list of interview answers you can provide when you eventually get interviewed
. For example, if you've applied for a few positions already and noticed that each one requests communication skills, you should have at least one anecdote where you can showcase how good your communication skills are during an interview. A story for an interview should always achieve the PAR formula.
PAR Formula for Anecdotes
Nothing proves a point as well as a story, and storytelling is the entire premise of an interview. Storytelling is a great way for you to showcase how personable you are and how well you can get along with others. Although an interview
initially looks like a series of questions where you provide answers and hope you get the job, it’s a series of questions that open the door to additional conversation. Additional conversatoin is what you want when you're in a job interview, instead of only giving yes and no answers.
Conversation and storytelling are the best way to showcase all of your soft skills and offer proof for your hard skills so don’t miss out on these opportunities. Answer questions, as often as reasonable, with the PAR formula.
- Problem — Start your story with a problem, specifically an issue that emphasizes the need for your fantastic abilities.
- Action — An action that you took in response to the problem, be sure that you choose a story where you were proactive and not reactive.
- Result — The result of your handiwork or skills. The result should of course always be the desired result or what you've accomplished, but if you don't have a story that shows outlandish success, then you should offer a tale where the result helped you learn a lesson.
When using the PAR formula, be sure to tie everything together at the end in a single sentence. Something that summarizes the scenario, your action, and the result. Remember that you're attempting to highlight how your soft skills helped you achieve success and that you could use those soft skills in your new role that you're interviewing for.
Transferable Skills for Healthcare Jobs
If you know that healthcare is the industry you want to work in, it may seem impossible to enter without some certification or degree because of how technical the healthcare industry can be for most of its' positions. However, you can start your job search now and find plenty of healthcare job opportunities with your transferable skills, and obtain an entry or mid-level position while you further your education.
Consider a position as a:
These professions usually don’t require any education, but a long list of soft skills. Many employers don't mention the need for these soft skills in their job description, but fortunately for you, you've already highlighted these aspects of your personality on your resume! The list of transferable skills for healthcare jobs is long, and nearly everyone has something to offer the industry — you just have to evaluate and identify which skills you have.
Take the opportunity during your job search to find out which of the transferable skills for healthcare jobs you have in your skillset already and which employers would be a good fit for you. Associating the transferable skills for healthcare jobs that you can use will help guide you through your job search to positions that will give you the opportunity to grow and find a position that makes you happy.
Get Personal and Be Personable
A significant opportunity in an interview is the chance to show who you are. Many job seekers misunderstand the interview as a chance to show that they're the person the company wants them to be. Rather than focusing on being someone else, embrace your quirks and personality, it's where most of your soft skills come from, and it's likely why they're so well-developed.
When you enter an interview, get personal. Introduce yourself by your first name and have a few introductory statements prepared. Don't be afraid to ask questions of your own.
Prepare for questions such as:
- Why are you interested in switching jobs?
- Do you think you're prepared for this type of position?
- What skills do you have that make you a fit for this job?
Answering these questions with confidence may ultimately be what gets you the job. When in an interview, always respond with certainty, but you're in a rare opportunity where you could mirror these questions, to show how personable you are during the interview.
Ask the interviewer what made them want to enter the field and if they have any advice on skills that they believe are highly valuable for the position. These questions can spark an exchange that shows that you're willing to learn, ready for the duties, and ready to switch jobs.
Why You Should Consider Developing Transferable Skills Throughout Your Career
Of course, education, certifications, and certain licenses are beyond value in some careers, but skills that transfer between jobs are highly valuable as well. They’re also always developing, unlike education or certifications.
Because skills that transfer are always in use, they’re likely your most developed skills and that alone is a reason to continue focusing on them as you work. These types of skills could be the difference between obtaining your dream job in the years to come.
Consider these benefits of skills that transfer:
- Opportunity to work creatively
- Opportunity to work into potential leadership roles
- Standing out as a candidate that is "different" from other applicants
- Differing in background from other applicants
Now that you know how to use a set transferable skills list to guide your job search you can get to work! Be sure to look within the healthcare industry for healthcare jobs that you can use your transferable skills in. Remember to:
- Identify Your Skills
- Rewrite Your Resume and Highlight Your Transferable Skills
- Search for a Job with Purpose and Direction
- Nail Your Interviews
These four steps can help you land a job in a new industry with new opportunities. You can successfully change jobs with the skill set that you have now, and focus on starting your career path without worrying about years spent in school because you've already got years of experience or soft skills you can take advantage of.