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How Can Transferable Skills Help My Job Search?

Posted by Anna Marie MacDonald on August 11, 2020

What do a lawyer, catering manager and graphic designer all have in common? Although there are specific talents and abilities required for every profession, there are skills that overlap between every type of job. These are called transferable skills – a set of abilities acquired through various experiences that can be applied to a wide range of employment opportunities.

Transferable skills are especially important right now because they can give you a competitive edge when applying for jobs. These universal proficiencies can reveal an employee’s ability to be flexible, create work-flow efficiencies, handle responsibility and more. Consider our top four transferable skills:

1. Communication: advising, explaining, articulating, instructing, writing and editing
2. Organizational: follow-through, multitasking, planning, setting and attaining goals
3. Interpersonal: relating, assisting, resolving conflict, motivating, responding to concerns
4. Leadership: managing, delegating, initiating, motivating others, evaluating

The best way to leverage these skills is to highlight them through personal success stories. Try tying every story back to a keyword or phrase listed within the job description. For example:

· “Decision-Maker” implies the position requires a heavy amount of leadership experience, mixed with a dash of communication and organizational skills. Emphasize past responsibilities that involve confidently assessing opportunities, articulating the evaluation process to others, and executing plans.

· “Results Driven/Self Starter” requires organizational and leadership skills. Highlight moments where expectations were exceeded with minimal supervision. Expound on times when tasks were completed in a hyper-efficient manner. Quantify these stories with percentages or dollar amounts whenever possible.

· “Team Player” relies heavily on interpersonal and communication skills. Delve into examples that focus on strong collaboration, making opposing parties feel heard, or diffusing tense situations with others. Make sure every use of “I” ties back to a use of “we” to further showcase an ability to understand and speak to a group dynamic.

When refining your resume or preparing for an interview, reflect over what was required to successfully execute daily tasks from previous jobs. Consider every interaction, project, problem and accomplishment in preparation for next steps. A clearly defined set of transferable skills could be the key to landing your next position.

Written by Anna Marie MacDonald

Anna Marie MacDonald is the Workforce Connection Center (WCC) Manager in Lombard, which supports the Goodwill mission in DuPage County, Illinois. She has been with Goodwill for over four years, and in this role, Anna Marie manages the various on-site and off-site workshops, builds employer and community partnerships, facilitates job clubs at various libraries, assist partners with writing resumes and preparing for job interviews. She has a B.A. in Communication and M. A. in Organizational Leadership/Training and Development.

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