If you’re wondering how to change careers without having any direct experience in a new field, you’re in luck. While you may not possess the traditional professional background and education to enter a different industry, you likely have plenty of skills you can apply to your new career. These skills are called transferable skills and they can go a long way in helping you change careers and bolster your resume
Transferable skills are skills you can take with you from job to job. Typically, transferable skills can be either hard (technical) or soft skills, but the common denominator is that they can be used in many types of roles and industries.
Now that you know what transferable skills are, you might be wondering how to discover what transferable skills you possess. If you’re like most job seekers, identifying your skills and figuring out how to document them on your resume is probably an overwhelming step.
To simplify identifying your transferable skills, try breaking them down into categories. Many career experts agree that there are six categories of skills, which include:
Basic skills: These skills are essential for success in practically every role – from entry-level to senior leadership positions. To identify your basic transferable skills, think about the core functions of your current and previous jobs. Do you communicate with coworkers and customers? Do you handle transactions? Do you frequently speak in public? These may seem like mundane tasks, but they apply to many roles across industries.
People skills: As the name suggests, people skills refer to interpersonal communication, conflict resolution, collaboration, and more. To determine if you have transferable people skills, think about your day-to-day responsibilities. Do you work directly with customers? How do you navigate conflict? Has anyone ever said that you are a “people person?”
Clerical skills: Similar to basic skills, clerical skills are essential to functioning in almost any field. Examples of transferable clerical skills include sending emails, following up with customers and coworkers, scheduling meetings, and making schedules.
Management skills: Many people assume that management skills are only possessed by those in leadership positions. The truth is that most people have management skills. For example, helping train a new employee, setting a team schedule, and leading a project are all examples of transferable management skills in action.
Technical skills: In addition to any niche or role-specific technical skills you may possess, you probably have some transferable technical skills. Are you a Microsoft Excel whiz? Do you know how to create documents with Adobe Acrobat? Are your proficient in sharing files through Google Drive? While these may seem like average skills, they apply to most jobs, so they’re great transferable skills to have and to market.
Research and planning skills: As you can probably guess, these transferable skills correlate to time management, problem-solving, and multitasking. To identify what research and planning transferable skills you hold, think about how you plan out your day, how you go about researching a new topic, and how you solve problems.
As you identify your transferable skills, review each of these six categories and think about competencies you have that fall into each category. Start by creating a master list that includes examples of each skill in practice. This will help you later when you add those skills to your resume.
For those looking to switch up their career, one of the best pieces of career change advice is to identify and market your transferable skills. By using these tips, you’ll be well on your way to figuring out your transferable skills, adding them to your resume, and landing an exciting new job.
For more career change advice and job search tips for how to change careers, check out our Career Change Resources Toolkit.