Transferable Skills

#TRVSTLOVES Making The Most Of Transferable Skills

Welcome to #TRVSTLOVES. We curate news, ideas, and inspiration from across the world that demonstrate how real action can accomplish a positive social impact. This time we’re looking at transferable skills and how they can help with career transitions. 

Identifying your transferable skills

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Photo by RODNAE Productions from Pexels

We thought we’d start off by looking at what skills can help you make a career transition. Generally, universities offer courses that focus on one subject, allowing one to “major” or specialize in a specific area.

Research from Rice University, and perhaps general assumption, is that graduates tend to hit higher salaries when their degrees are closely linked to their career (which limits, to an extent, the relevance of transferable skills). But transferable skills are becoming increasingly important.

Analysis by Udemy suggests that some of the most valuable soft skills now include conflict management, time management, and stress management, all of which are very relevant across a whole host of different careers. These interchangeable skills can give people the freedom to develop and shape their own professional lives based on what they are naturally good at.

Related: Soft Skills Facts and Statistics

Whether a focus on transferable skills will change the nature of educational courses and degrees in the future remains to be seen, but UCL is certainly keen to build upon these capabilities as seen in their Transferable Skills and Competency Framework, which encourages students to identify and build upon their own personal strengths. 

How possible is a radical career change?

Evidently, millions of employees plan to switch jobs post-Covid due to a number of factors, including work-life balance, employee benefits, career advancement, and desirable company culture. If you’re one of these people, then how do you go about a radical career change?

Career coach Kate Richardson leads an interesting discussion on this topic along with some real-life examples. One of our favorites was Criminologist Mark Brandi who, after a chance win on a game show, used the money to pivot his career towards criminal fiction writing. While there’s definitely a bit of luck to the story, Brandi invested in developing a new skill set, learning about all varieties of writing until he found the right fit. The idea of immersing yourself in something new, trying a variety of things to see what is most suitable, seems like some excellent advice if you’re a little unsure about what direction to take next. 

This story got us thinking about others who have pulled off great career changes and very much enjoyed going through this list. Special note to Julia Childs, who, at 50, quit advertising and media to write a cookbook (and eventually became a celebrity chef). Also, Vera Wang who was a figure skater and journalist before she entered the world of the fashion industry at age 40.

Highlighting your ability, not your experience

ability work skills
Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Another Ted Talk recommendation from TRVST! This one is a few years old now, but well worth a listen. This is just a six-minute discussion for those who prefer to keep it short, so no time commitment either.

TED Resident Jason Shen speaks about highlighting your ability, not your experience when looking for a new job and the potential we all have to make ourselves more attractive to employers. Shen says that

“the hiring systems we built in the 20th century are failing us and causing us to miss out on people with incredible potential”. 

In other words, by judging people on traditional metrics, employers are failing to notice talent. Performance shouldn’t be overlooked; Shen says that rather than looking at past experience, interviewers should inquire about candidates' opinions and insights on something relevant to the job in question, not focusing on what they did five years ago. Suppose you’re currently looking for a new role. In that case, this talk is a great reminder to perhaps think a little differently about how you sell yourself and how to showcase your current abilities rather than rely on your chronological resume.

Machine learning to help with career changes?

AI can help you decide which careers will be future-proof. Sounds good, doesn’t it? We thought this was worth a mention; machine learning analyses successful job moves, the similarity of occupations, and how important an individual skill is to a job. It estimates how similar different professions are, based on the relevant skills. Following some detailed analysis, it will gauge the probability of moving from one occupation to another.

This is certainly an interesting concept, but does it have its limitations? The example given was that “an accountant could become a financial analyst because the required skills are similar, but a speech therapist might find it harder to become a financial analyst as the skill sets are quite different.” 

So could AI actually start to limit those looking to use their transferable skills to follow an entirely different career path? Or, as transferable skills become increasingly common, will machine learning be able to pick up on this nuance and learn to link transferable skills in the wider sense, giving people the opportunity to move around more freely? Definitely some food for thought here. 

Switching to a social impact career

Social Impact
Photo by RODNAE Productions from Pexels

Ending with something a little different, what if you were looking to switch to a career in social impact? Careers in this field are seemingly thriving, which is somewhat reassuring despite the often lower salaries (compared to corporate). 

The climate crisis is very much at the forefront of everyone’s minds, and with that can come the feeling of helplessness. So a career swap into something that is a little more fulfilling is understandably very appealing. To move, for example, from a corporate role into a social one, it will be necessary to take advantage of the transferable skills you may already possess, such as problem-solving, leadership qualities, analytical reasoning, and adaptability, all of which will be highly sought after in a social impact role.

Many of these roles are still relatively new and so will be more likely to take on people with the relevant ability rather than experience (as per the Ted Talk we mentioned above!). It might also be worth upskilling or taking advantage of a number of online courses aimed to give you the key tools needed to develop a successful career in this field.

Sam is a professional writer with a particular interest in promoting sustainable practices for small businesses.
Photo by Anton Maksimov juvnsky on Unsplash
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