Wanted: Transferable Skills

I talked to two friends about their résumés this past week, and while I was discussing résumé options with each of these friends I notice they both had an interesting take on where they felt their skill sets would be valuable. They were attaching their value to the industry in which they were currently working. For example:

A tennis instructor comparing her value to the sport
An HR coordinator comparing his value to the staffing industry
An event planner comparing his value to the event industry
A sales person comparing her value to selling
A teacher comparing her value to the education system

The way they framed their skills was a good reminder to me that the talents we are blessed with are not owned by the industry or the position in which they were exposed. Most of our skills are transferable into many different industries.

From Administrative Assistant to Director

One of my favorite leadership stories is about an event planner who I had the honor of promoting to director of marketing in a two billion dollar organization.

What I love about sharing her story is that she started her career inside the corporation as an administrative assistant. However, a couple of years later she transferred her administrative and organizational skills to a position as an event marketing manager.

In her new event planning role, she developed new skill sets that involved working with and leading a team. She was great at forming relationships, she served her teammates before herself, she inspired others to perform better, and she was good at handling conflict and making the tough decisions.

She didn’t have a marketing degree, and she’d never worked as a director of marketing before, but what she did have were the transferrable skills that I needed in a leadership position. As I expected, she was very successful in the director position. Today she continues to serve as a leader with a very successful career but in a very different industry and a very different position that demands her same skills.

Another friend of mine – a tennis instructor –possesses energy, competitiveness, drive, patience to teach and mentor, the ability to form relationships and the desire to help others improve. These transferable skills are amazing and in demand by so many industries! I’d consider this person for a sales position where I need energy, competitiveness, and the ability to form relationships. On the other hand, this person would be a great teammate for a position that requires working with others.

Each of us brings a unique set of skills to our jobs that aren’t tied to our current role or industry, so take your industry and your position out of your evaluation when placing value on your skill sets. Your significance is in your acquired transferable skills. Those skills, not your current title or position, will help to fuel your professional growth.

So, what are your transferable skills? How can they be used in other positions or industries?


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